Monday, January 20, 2020

10 Traditional Philippines Dishes Every US Traveler Must Try

Wazzup Pilipinas!

The Philippines remains one of the main destinations in Asia with a record number of visitors every year. In 2018, the country broke earlier records with 7.1 million foreign tourists arriving despite the closure of Boracay Island a major tourist destination. Visitors from the United States numbered over one million with many backpackers getting by doing homework for money.

There are many reasons to visit the country from the award-winning beaches, water sports, mesmerizing landscapes, to the mountainous landscape. However, as you tour all these attractions, it is hard to miss the delicious traditional Philippine dishes that are part of the country’s rich heritage.

If you want to experience the real Filipino culture, you have to sample these traditional dishes. This guide explores some of the best traditional dishes every traveler should try.

Chicken/Pork Adobo

This has to be the most Filipino dish and for many good reasons. It is a dish every tour guide will exhort you to try because it is delicious and you might find yourself eating it throughout your stay. Adobo is simply chicken marinated in a mixture of soya sauce and vinegar.

As you move around the country, you might find variations of adobo such as adobo sa gata where coconut milk is added or addition of annatto oil.

Kare Kare: oxtail stew

Kare kare is a powerful dish of ex tail, beef tripes and traditional vegetables flavored with onion, garlic and ground roasted peanuts. Mostly served with shrimp paste (bagoon”), calamansi juice and you might find it spiced with chilli. The dish has less to do with curry despite the name but more to do with satay (a mixture of meat and peanut)

Lechon: Go the Whole Hog

This dish of roast suckling pig came from the Spanish conquerors and is big in the Philippines. A suckling pig roasted over charcoal for many hours makes up the lechon which has become the national dish.

If you visit the city of Cebu, this is the most important place to get the dish in its best from. Additions might include flavoring by use of stuffing like bay leaves, garlic, and lemongrass.

Sinigang: Sour Meat Stew

If you want to experience the cuisine of any new destination, start with the soups. In the Philippines, you have to sample traditional Sinigang a popular pork soup stew. Unlike kare kare, this is sour and savory in flavor.

You will get it as a stew or soup served with vegetables such as daikon (labanos), okra, onions, aubergine (eggplants) and water spinach, (kang kong).

Sisig: Nothing Goes To Waste

While many cultures look down upon less-than-premium cuts of livestock, Filipinos make the best of these economy parts. Sisig is a traditional dish containing parts of pork cheek, liver, pork face, and other less premium parts chopped and fried using onions and served on a hot plate.

This is a popular dish in the culinary capital of Pampanga and a popular accompaniment with beer. You have to try this the crunchy and chewy delicacy when in the country.

Buko Pie

There’s no way you’ll miss buko pies in the Philippines. It is such a popular part of the cuisine in the country and if you love experimenting with foods, you will taste it before you know its name. To make this pie, fresh coconut meat is mixed with condensed milk and thrown in the oven without any additives.

Buko is a coconut and you can thus enjoy it as a dessert, snack, or even enjoy the juice inside. Not only will buko juice cool you down it also a source of potassium, sodium, magnesium and iron. When baked into a pie, it smells like a freshly baked apple pie.


Image 1: Small bibingka cupcake

You might have eaten bibingka without knowing it on the streets of Manila or other cities. What you won’t forget is the delicious taste of the spongy cake. It is a cake baked with rice flour and coconut milk. Its spongy texture makes it irresistible.

Traditionally, it was a full-sized cake but you will now find bibingka cupcakes on the streets. You will easily notice these cakes by the banana leaf wrapped around the base which is also used to bake the cake.

Inasal: Rich Roast Chicken

In the local lingo, you will find roast chicken referred to as lechon manok. However, this doesn’t change the fact that it is a dish you’ll remember long after you go back home. Chicken inasal is one of the most popular dishes in Philippines and a staple food in the city of Bacolod.

This is chicken marinated in calamansi juice, lemongrass and ginger. As it roasts over the fire, it is basted with annatto oil. Best served with rice and soy sauce and its freshness makes it a delight every time you sample some.

Tapsilog: The Ultimate Filipino Breakfast

After a night out enjoying the wild Philippine night life, you need a powerful breakfast and nothing comes close to the Tapsilog best known as the King of the Filipino breakfast. The meal consists of tapa (cured beef), “sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (fried egg). If you need a dose of energy to see you through the day, this traditional breakfast is all you need.

The preparation of each ingredient is thorough with the meat being seasoned in mix of soy sauce, calamansi juice, brown sugar, minced garlic and black pepper. A lot of garlic goes into the rice’s frying.

Kinilaw: Raw Fish Salad

Kinilaw is simply raw fish magic as it entails an art in the cooking of fish. It is a simple traditional dish which can only entail a vinegar dressing over raw fish. Vinegar (liquid fire in the Philippines) cooks the meat enough for the stomach to digest it. In the country, alcoholic fermentation of coconut water gives the vinegar used in cooking hence the sour-sweet flavor in some foods such as kinilaw.

Final Thoughts

If you have plans to visit the Philippines any time soon, you’re in for a culinary treat of a lifetime. These traditional dishes are just the tip of the iceberg. The country boasts a rich culinary heritage with inspiration from Spain, China, India and the Malay kingdoms. This makes for a diverse blend of dishes that suit every palate. Whether you are a food lover or not, you’ll love the amazing traditional Filipino culinary delights.

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