Hey, lounger! How are you today?
Having to be away from home has made me appreciate it more. It’s more than two years have passed since I was able to return home. Since the Philippines is rapidly regaining its pre-pandemic glory, it is once again a haven for festivity, enjoyment, and lots of adventures!
We have one of Southeast Asia’s most delicious foods and vibrant cultures. I can only imagine myself eating these twelve favorite Filipino dishes from home. I am thrilled to share the dishes that remind me of home and that I look forward to eating whenever I’m there. Suppose you ever find yourself in the beautiful country of the Philippines. In that case, I urge you to sample at least one of these delicacies. Your taste buds are in for a wild adventure, for sure! You’ll love it!
12 Must-Try Foods in the Philippines
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The Filipino cuisine bulalo is a top-tier example of beef soup. Beef shanks and bone marrow are simmered until the collagen and fat have melted into a clear liquid, resulting in a light soup. Leavened greens, corn on the cob, scallions, onions, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce are popular ingredients. When it’s freezing outside in the wet season, a bowl of bulalo is just the thing to warm you up and fill your belly. Bulalo is one of my favorite meals, with rice, a dipping fish sauce, red chilies, and calamansi. The top choice!
#2. Suam na Mais
Filipino corn soup, known as Suam na Mais, often includes malunggay (some greens), minced meat, and or shrimp. Originating in my home region of Pampanga, it quickly became a countrywide favorite. My dad would grate white corns for us when we cooked this dish.
Tagalog speakers will recognize it as ginisang mais (sauteed corn), and Visayan speakers call it sinabawang mais. During the wet season, you should enjoy it hot. It is best paired with deep-fried fish, known as galunggong, and a cup of rice!
#3. Ningnang Bangus
In this dish, milkfish is packed with diced tomato and onion and seasoned with salt and pepper. Since “ninang” means “grilled” in Kapampangan, that’s how we prepare the staffed milkfish. Dipping sauces made from soy sauce, lemon or calamansi, freshly sliced onions, and chilies are ideal with this mouth-watering Filipino dish. Ideally, it should be eaten with your bare hands and accompanied by a warm cup of white rice. Ningnang Bangus, or Inihaw na Bangus as they are known in Tagalog, also appear in boddle fights (kamayan).
Sinigang is similar to other soupy dishes, but its acidic, tangy, and salty flavor profile sets it apart. Meat or fish will do. Whether it’s made with beef or shrimp, Sinigang na Baka is one of my favorite Filipino dishes. In the Philippines, we utilize beef with bones, such as shanks or ribs, while preparing this dish at home. The soup foundation was tamarin, which imparted a sour flavor. Sinigang is a national treasure that takes on different forms across the Philippines. Definitely, a must-try food!
The history of this recipe is quite fascinating. A Pampangan woman has a passion for cooking. One day she accidentally burns a piece of meat while preparing it over the fire. She didn’t want to throw away the ingredients, so she devised a plan to use them differently. She continued to include other parts of the carcass, adding the cheeks. Roasted them over the coals and chopped them into little pieces. She then seasoned the minced meat with soy sauce and calamansi and sizzled them in an iron-cast cooking pan. In time, this dish evolved into the well-known sisig. Beef, chicken, or bangus sizzling sisig is my favorite choice. Undoubtedly one of the Philippines’ must-try food!
#6. Kare-Kareng Dagat
Kare-kareng Dagat is a dish that always brings back fond memories of good friends. Definitely, a must-try food in the Philippines! We always get this meal when we eat at a popular restaurant in SM Clark city. It’s a curry made of roasted peanuts, seafood (the “dagat” or “sea” in English), and vegetables. The curry is served with a spicy shrimp sauce for dipping. The kare-kareng dagat and dipping sauce together make for an extraordinary flavor experience.
#7. Pancit Palabok
A typical Filipino dish, Pancit Palabok is made up of rice noodles topped with meat and or shrimp ragu-like sauce. These noodles are called Pancit Luglug in Pampanga and Pancit Malabon in Malabon. It’s an old favorite made new with smoked fish, eggs, and chicharron. Yes, every visitor to the Philippines must try this delicious food.
Breakfast or snack time is better with authentic Filipino tamales, a Kampangan favorite. My granny loved and enjoyed this food. Every time she came home from the US, we’d definitely prepare this dish for her. Tamales feature a hearty and delicious combination of rice flour, creamy coconut milk, and peanut butter, topped with chicken and eggs, then steamed to perfection. We call them Bobotu in Pampanga. These are must-try food when in the Philippines!
Filipinos love Isaw, a grilled dish made of chicken intestines which is another type of inihaw (grilled). This tasty food is popular as street food. The chicken intestines are prepared by washing them thoroughly, turning them inside out, then rewashing them before being boiled and grilled or cooked on skewers straight away.
Brown sugar-dusted turon wrapped in a crispy spring roll wrapper and deep-fried to perfection. Typically, turon is made of banana. However, there are different variations. To make it more delicious and special, aside from banana, some add Jackfruit (langka), other may use kamote (sweet potato), mango (mangga), cheddar cheese (cheddar), and coconut (copra) are also prevalent. Yes, must-try food in the Philippines!
A popular Filipino breakfast or snack, tahô is made of fresh soft/silken tofu, arnibal, and sago pearl. Arnibal is a sweet-bitter sugar syrup. You may find tahô vendors all over the country selling this distinctive sweet that has become a national staple.
It’s been a long time, but I still recall working at a call center. Before leaving the Philippines to live in Dubai, I was a Quality Analyst there. My job schedule consists primarily of night shifts, so I buy taho from the vendor outside our office building after hours. Kuyang Magtataho means “brother who sells taho,” and that’s what we call him. When the night shift workers go out, Kuyang Magtataho is always prompt to offer his taho. After a long shift, there’s nothing better than unwinding with a warm cup of taho.
Penoy is a sibling of Balut. If you are uncomfortable trying Balut, you can try Penoy, one of my favorites! After nine to twelve days, if a duck egg has not fully grown, it is sold as penoy, which has the same appearance, aroma, and flavor as a hard-boiled egg. On occasion, they are beaten and fried in the style of scrambled eggs and served with a vinegar dip in Filipino cuisine. Even older than the more well-known Kwek Kwek and Tokneneng, Penoy is one of the oldest street food eggs in the Philippines, which is a must-try!
There you go lounger! While I was writing this blog, my appetite intensified! And happy thoughts flood my mind. If you find yourself in the Philippines, please indulge in a bit of risk-taking and give them a shot. Undoubtedly, it would be a delicious adventure for your taste buds. You could have just unlocked a new favorite!
Take care, stay healthy, and have fun always!
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This is great, thanks so much!!!
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These sound delicious! I think I’ll be trying some new foods soon…
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crossing fingers! take care and happy travels soon… 🥰