Whether you’ve been to the Philippines or not, the cuisine of this island nation is worth exploring. With a rich culture and a variety of simple, flavorful dishes, Filipino recipes can satisfy the palette of the whole family. The food combines Indian, Chinese and Spanish influences to create a traditional cuisine that is uniquely their own.
The good news is you don’t need to go to the Philippines to get a taste of these delicious dishes. There are great places, right here in the UK, that offer up quality and authentic Filipino options. Rather than jumping in blind, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the most popular dishes in the Filipino culture. You’re likely to run into these five delicious dishes when you’re dining in a Filipino restaurant.
Adobo is one of the most popular dishes in Filipino cuisine. It is traditionally made with pork, though you can find it made with chicken, seafood and even with vegetables. Adobo involves stewing the meat (or veg) in a marinade of vinegar, garlic, soy sauce and peppercorns and always come with rice. Though the name is Spanish in origin, the dish was created in the Philippines. You can find Adobo on pretty much any Filipino menu, including a fantastic version at RAPSA in Shoreditch.
One thing you’ll notice about Filipino cuisine is that they use every part of the animal in their cooking. While you may feel odd about eating snouts and ears, you shouldn’t knock it until you try it.
Sisig is traditionally made with pork, using parts of the body that are often avoided in western cooking but contain tons of flavour. The meat is minced together and marinated in citrus juices and vinegar then fried and plated with rice. Just before serving, a raw egg is cracked over the meat, allowing the heat from the dish to lightly cook it. Here in England, you can find Sisig made with other ingredients including fish, tofu and pork belly.
At first glance, Lumpia resembles a dish you’ve likely seen before in Chinese cuisine. This Filipino take on a spring roll is stuffed with minced meat, usually pork, beef or shrimp. It also has a variety of yummy vegetables including leeks, carrots, cabbage, green beans and bamboo shoots. It’s the perfect appetizer or lunch dish and great for sharing with friends. The wrapper is similar to a Chinese spring roll and when fried, creates a crunchy outer shell.
Kilawin is a dish that is similar to ceviche, though tastes quite different due to the marinade. Kilawin is raw fish that is marinated in a citrus juice and vinegar and flavoured with a variety of other ingredients like chili, onion and tomato. The acid from the citrus will cook the fish and infuse it with the sour, fresh flavour. It usually features fish like tuna or mackerel, but it can also be beef, deer, goat or water buffalo.
5. Buko Pie
You can’t forget dessert, and Buko Pie is a unique and popular sweet treat in Filipino cuisine. The pie is prepared with fresh young coconut meat, mixed with condensed milk. It smells fantastic and is like the Filipino version of an apple pie. It’s the staple dessert in all Filipino households and worth sinking your teeth into. Ask the restaurant to serve it with vanilla ice cream for a flavour experience that’s out of this world.