If you’re planning your first foray into the magical Philippines, you might be wondering what the local people like to eat. Local travel guide Reema Marquez has the goods on the best local foods to try during your visit.
You probably noticed this, trends are not just for clothes or accessories; there are seasonal food dishes as well. For instance, right now the Ramen crave is on its way to being replaced with something else. But do you remember when almost everyone you know craved for the broth-based noodle soup? And almost all the restaurants that had popped up were Ramen house. However, if we’re looking for the next food obsession, look no further than Filipino cuisine.
There are more than 7,000 islands in the Philippine archipelago, and each region offers flavourful dishes and a unique way of preparing them. Before you try out international cuisine from Zucchini’s restaurant menu or any other popular food destinations in the Philippines, consider trying out the local cuisine first. Here we will list down some of the Filipino food favourites that you will definitely enjoy devouring.
What better way to start this list than by naming one of the most ubiquitous dishes in the Philippines. The adobo is prepared with meat, usually chicken or pork, and cooked slowly in a marinade of soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. The way it is cooked can be considered a technique of preserving the dish without refrigerating it.
One thing you will observe about Filipino food is that no animal part goes to waste. You will see this in their street food like chicken feet, helmet (chicken head), and betamax (chicken blood). But the best one of all would be a dish called sisig, usually made from pork cheeks, liver, and head. It is a sizzling dishes that goes well with egg on top, and then sprinkled with calamansi juice. This is a happy hour favourite, so if you find yourself in a bar in the Philippines, this is a must try dish.
You would think that for a tropical country, the Philippines would not have a lot of hot soup dishes. But Filipinos enjoy their broth, one of which is the Bulalo soup. It takes hours to prepare this dish because the beef shanks and marrow needs to be boiled until the fat has melted and the meat is tender. Vegetables like cabbages and potatoes are added, and then spiced with salt, pepper, and a dash of fish sauce. This is the perfect dish on cold, rainy nights in the Philippines, or if you just want a delicious bone marrow and soup to dig into.
Kare-Kare has got to be a Filipino’s lunch favourite, just the viand alone fills the stomach. It is a stew of oxtail cooked in peanut sauce, onions, and garlic. The dish also includes eggplant, cabbage, banana blossom, and string beans. They use annatto seeds to give the stew its rich, brown colour; while the toasted ground rice gives the dies its thickness. Kare-Kare is best eaten with steaming rice and bagoong (shrimp paste).
Another one of the Filipino staple foods is the Sinigang. Just like the Bulalo, it is perfect for gloomy days when you just want to curl up on the sofa and sip on declicious and flavourful soup. The sinigang is a stew of either pork, beef, or fish. It uses tamarind or kamias to give the dish its unique sour taste. Added to it are vegetables such as kangkong, gabi, and string beans. You can eat it with rice or all on its own.
By now you know that just like other Asian countries, Filipinos love their rice. And breakfast is definitely when rice is served and eaten more in any Filipino household. A famous beef dish called the tapa is a go-to breakfast food, and it usually comes with garlic rice (sinangag) and fried egg (itlog) (in which the dish will now be called “tap-si-log)”. Tapa is thinly sliced beef marinated in sauce with a base of soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper. Lots of people experiment on their marinade, offering sweet and spicy versions. But nothing really beats the classic tapa dish.
These are just some of the dishes Filipinos love preparing in their homes. On your next visit, make sure to try out any of these local dishes and see why Filipinos just cannot get enough of them.