Food spotlight: The Philippines


At the crossroads between China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and India, with heavy influences from Spain and the United States, and consisting of 135 distinct ethno-linguistic tribes within the Philippines, it's no surprise that Filipino cuisine is so varied and rich.

Most Filipino dishes consist of a combination of sweet, sour and salty, with dishes from the Cordilleras region and those enjoyed by Muslim Filipinos adding in a good deal of spice. Here are 9 of the ones we love most:

  • Adobo: Although it's originally Mexican, Filipinos have made this mouthwateringly delicious dish their own. Adobo consists of chicken, pork, lamb or seafood cooked in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and spices, and thanks to its preparation it can be stored for days without spoiling.
  • Tinapa: Usually blackfin scad or milkfish that's preserved in brine and then smoked, tinapa is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, usually with a garlic and vinegar dipping sauce.
  • Lechon: A pig, spit-roasted over coals until its skin becomes crisp and golden brown, this delicacy is served with lechon kawali – or liver sauce – made from onions, garlic, breadcrumbs and liver spread.
  • Bulalo: A popular hot beef broth native to the Southern Luzon region of the country, bulalo is made from cooking beef shanks and includes rich bone marrow.
  • Arroz Caldo: Literally “rice soup", this soothing street food consists of a thick chicken rice porridge, cooked with ginger and garnished with egg, garlic and onions.
  • Balut: Not for the faint of heart, balut is a popular Filipino dish consisting of a 17-day-old duck embryo floating in a mixture of hot sauce and vinegar.
  • Suman at manga: This delectable sticky rice snack is steamed in banana or coconut leaves and includes sweet ripe mango.
  • Pastillas de leche: Another sweet dessert, this confection consists of thickened milk and sugar – nomnomnom.
  • Merienda: Not really a specific dish, merienda is essentially a morning or early evening snack that includes rice and a cool or hot drink. It can include bread, pastries, noodles or even balut.

Have you visited the Philippines or had an opportunity to try Filipino food? Tell us what you love most in the Shop Talk blog community forum.

Did you know: What's with SPAM?

It's no secret – Filipinos love SPAM, the American cooked canned meat. Introduced to it during World War II, a fast food chain in the country offers a menu based entirely on the processed meat – including SPAM burgers, SPAM spaghetti, SPAM poppers and more.   (Source)

33 thoughts on “Food spotlight: The Philippines

  1. Although the food dishes look interesting, I don’t think I would like any of them. I guess I am someone who doesn’t like to try new foods.

  2. My father (Romualdo Duque) was born in the philippines – Markina Province and died may 25, 1985, he was 92 years old. Adobo was my favorite dishe he made. Besides being a chef he was a master chessman.

  3. I have never had any of these Philippine foods. It was interesting reading and I may just give one or two of them a try, if I can find it!

  4. I found this very interesting. While in college my roommates were from the Philippines so I tried lots of vegetarian dishes,because I only ate seafood.

  5. Nice overview. I live in the Philippines part of the year, I have grown accustomed to their dishes. It is true, they love adobo, they also love calderetta, another hispanic stew. I’ve tried almost every thing on your list except balut, I’m not into eggs embryo or not. One thing you forgot to mention is pandesal. Pinoy eat these rolls for breakfast almost every day. They are cheap and go with all sorts of toppings, they are like English Muffins or toasted white bread to gringos. Tinapia is something mostly lower class people eat, as it is cheap and doesnt spoil easily as it is dried. I also love Lechon, pinoy love barbeque and one can find many street vendors that sell bruchettas, sticks of bbq meat. I also like manok which is bbq chicken. One of the most popular chain restaurants in the Philippines is Mang Inasal, they specialize in bbq chicken.

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