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Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Filipino Cuisine Gems: Top 5 Dishes You Must Try On Your Philippines Trip


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The Philippines is a melting pot of multiple cultures that left their mark on its cuisine. The country located in the South China Sea has influences of Chinese, Spanish, and American cuisines.

While the Chinese introduced soy sauce, noodles, and tofu, Spanish influence includes cooking techniques like sauteing and braising. Moreover, Americans introduced the concept of convenient cooking along with hot dogs, fried chicken, and hamburgers.

The best time to visit the Philippines is in the late fall, which is November, all the way to April. During these months, The weather in the Philippines experiences a cold and dry season with temperatures ranging from 24°C-31°C.

All the beautiful islands and remote areas are open during this time, which makes it ideal to get a complete experience. Moreover, being able to access more areas means you can try more regional dishes while traveling in the Philippines.

Filipino cuisine is the ultimate fusion food that has some unique dishes. What's more interesting is that the cuisine has maintained a unique identity different from its neighboring Asian countries. If you're planning to visit the Philippines this fall, here are the top 5 Filipino dishes you must try on the trip.


Chicken Adobo

Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines and probably the most famous of all Filipino dishes. The dish is chicken braised in vinegar and then cooked with other herbs and spices. Natives also make Adobo with pork or fish, but chicken adobo is the most popular of them all.

Notably, the dish was named by Spanish, and the term comes from the Spanish word Adobar, which means to marinate. Spanish saw natives using salt and vinegar to marinate a protein, to which they added garlic and onions. Over time, the recipe evolved and is now prepared using many ingredients like vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, onion, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Adobo is traditionally cooked in a heavy-bottomed clay pot, which gives it an authentic flavor.

When on a trip to the Philippines, make sure to try the Chicken Adobo from an authentic place. You can also try other variations like Shrimp Adobo, Squid Adobo, and Yellow Adobo (pork).


Balut

Balut is probably the most polarising dish in Filipino cuisine and also a food icon. This is one dish that always raises eyebrows when you mention it to anyone. And there's a good reason behind it. This popular Filipino delicacy is prepared by incubating duck eggs for around 19 days and then served with a dash of vinegar. The street food which originated in the Philippines is also found in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.

The dish is quite popular with children in the Philippines, and natives swear by it. According to locals, this nourishing dish is just 188 calories per Balut with nutrients like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, protein, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. The egg is eaten at 18-19 days of age because, at this stage, the embryo is not fully developed to show feathers, claws, beaks, and bones.

While it may sound disgusting and yucky at first, it's worth giving it a shot to experience Filipino cuisine to its full potential.


Kare Kare

Kare Kare is another iconic Filipino dish that everyone must partake in when traveling to the Philippines. The dish is famous throughout the country and gets its name from the word curry, which is a nod to its Indian community living in the Cainta Area of Manila. It's believed that the dish comes from Indian soldiers who settled in the country during the British invasion.

In the Philippines, Kare Kare is considered comfort food eaten while growing up. The dish is super heavy and usually had for dinner. Kare Kare is a stew made from oxtail, ox tripe, vegetables, ground roasted peanuts, onion, and garlic. It's served with Bagoong (shrimp paste), Calamansi (Filipino lime), and chili.


Kinilaw

If you're a foodie, the chances are high that you may have tried ceviche or heard of it. Kinilaw is a Filipino dish, which is quite similar to the Peruvian ceviche. The name comes from the Tagalog dialect, which means to ‘eat fresh’. Kinilaw is a raw fish salad that's usually served with Filipino lime and vinegar.

Just like ceviche, the acid from the lime and vinegar cooks the protein, making it digestible. Kinilaw also contains chili, pepper, onion, ginger, and garlic, which gives it a distinct flavor. More interestingly, the vinegar in the Philippines is made by fermenting coconut water, which gives it a sour-sweet taste, adding another dimension to the salad.


Sinigang

Sinigang is yet another much-loved stew enjoyed all over the country. As is expected, this is a meaty stew but more savory and sour than Kare Kare. The stew is usually made with tamarind as the souring agent. However, natives use varied ingredients like calamansi, guavas, and tomatoes.

Sinigang is typically served as a soup with many vegetables, including aubergine, daikon, water spinach, okra, and onions. The stew is mainly prepared with pork, but locals also prepare beef, fish, and chicken-based sinigang.



These were the top five dishes that one must try when in the Philippines. However, Filipino cuisine is not limited to just these, and there is a lot more to it. Therefore, it's suggested to eat only Filipino dishes while here to get the whole experience. Some other popular dishes include turon, kamaru, lumpia, and pancit palabok, to name a few.

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