No list of Filipino food would be complete without adobo.
A ubiquitous dish in every household in the Philippines, it's Mexican in origin, but Filipinos found that cooking meat (often chicken and pork) in vinegar, salt, garlic, pepper, soy sauce and other spices, was a practical way to preserve meat without refrigeration.
This cooking style can be applied to different meats or even seafood. Sample it in a Filipino home or the garlicky version of the lamb adobo at Abe.
The lechon is the most invited party guest in the Philippines. The entire pig is spit-roasted over coals, with the crisp, golden-brown skin served with liver sauce, the most coveted part.
In Cebu, the stomach of the pig is stuffed with star anise, pepper, spring onions, laurel leaves and lemongrass resulting in an extremely tasty lechon, which needs no sauce.
In Manila, get your piggy from Elar's Lechon, while in Cebu, the best is CnT Lechon.
Nothing goes to waste in the Filipino kitchen. In the culinary capital of Pampanga, they turn the pork’s cheeks, head and liver into a sizzling dish called Sisig.
The crunchy and chewy texture of this appetizer is a perfect match for an cold beer. Serve with hot sauce and Knorr seasoning to suit the preference of you and your buddies.
Credit goes to Aling Lucing who invented this dish at a humble stall along the train railways in Angeles City, Pampanga. While Sisig can be found in many restaurants, try the original version at Aling Lucing Sisig.
4. Crispy pata
Not for the easily spooked, this pork knuckle is simmered, drained and deep fried until crisp. The meat is tender and juicy inside, with a crisp, crackling exterior.
Served with vinegar, soy sauce and chili. If you have a craving for this at any time, Aristocrat is open 24 hours.
5. Chicken inasal
Yes, it's grilled chicken. But in Bacolod, this is no ordinary grilled chicken.
The meat is marinated in lemongrass, calamansi, salt, pepper and garlic and brushed with achuete (annatto seeds) oil.
Every part of the chicken is grilled here from the paa (drumstick), pecho (breast), baticulon (gizzard), atay (liver), pakpak (wings) and corazon (heart). It must be eaten with a generous serving of garlic rice, with some of the orange oil used to marinade the chicken poured over the rice.
Go chicken crazy at Manukan Country where there is a row of authentic Inasal restaurants.
6. Taba ng talangka
The fat of a small variety of crabs are pressed and sautéed in garlic. This cholesterol-laden dish is often used as a sauce for prawns or eaten with fried fish and rice.
The best taba ng talangka comes from the provinces of Pampanga, Tarlac and Bulacan. Buy a bottle or two from the markets there, or pasalubong shops like Bulacan Sweets.
7. Pancit Palabok
When Filipinos have guests, they don't skimp. The pancit palabok served on most birthday parties is oozing with flavor and textures.
The noodle dish is layered with rice noodles, a rich orange sauce made from shrimp broth, pork, hard boiled eggs, shrimps, chicharon (pork rinds) and sometimes oysters and squid. Enjoy the rich sauce of Perfect Loaf Bakery and Café.
Despite the perennial heat, Filipinos often enjoy sipping piping hot bulalo soup made with from freshly slaughtered Batangas beef.
The broth is rich with flavors seeped from the beef after boiling for hours. The bones are big, meaning more bone marrow to enjoy.
In Santo Tomas, Batangas, there's a row of restaurants along the highway serving bulalo. But the best one stands out further away in nearby Tagaytay city, called Diner Café.
9. Arroz Caldo
While chicken soup soothes sick Westerners, Filipinos turn to arroz caldo, a thick chicken rice porridge.
Cooked with ginger and sometimes garnished with a hard-boiled egg, toasted garlic and green onions, this comfort food is sold in street-side stalls.
If dining al fresco doesn’t suit you, try it at the Via Mare outlets around Manila.
10. Fish tinola
The freshness of Cebu's rich marine life can be tasted in its fish tinola, a simple sour broth flavored with onions, tomatoes and sambag (tamarind) and cooked over coco-lumber firewood for hours.
Cebuanos know to go to A-One, a small hole in the wall known, cooking up to 200 kilos of fish daily.
This stew of oxtail has the most delicious sauce made from ground toasted rice and crushed peanuts. Banana blossom, eggplants and string beans add more interesting textures, to make it a complete meal on its own.
It's eaten with steamed rice and bagoong (shrimp paste). While mom’s kare-kare is always best, the version at Café Juanita is authentic.
Serious gourmands know the best cooks come from Pampanga. So do kamaro, these mole crickets they cook into a delicious appetizer.
What makes this delicacy special? Well if catching these bugs is tough, so is cooking them. Legs and wings must be removed, then the body is boiled in vinegar and garlic. It's then sautéed in oil, onion and chopped tomatoes until chocolate brown.
These bite-size appetizers are crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. Sample Kamaru at Everybody’s Café, an authentic Pampango dining institution for many decades now.
13. Ilocos empanada
Yes, its name reveals its Spanish origins. But its ingredients are all local.
Grated unripe papaya or bean sprouts, egg and loganiza (pork sausage) are stuffed in the empanada and deep fried, accompanied with a spicy vinegar sauce.
Get it from stalls beside the cathedrals in Vigan and Laoag.
Sinigang is a stew of fish, prawns, pork or beef soured by fruits like tamarind, kamias or tomatoes. Often accompanied by vegetables like kangkong, string beans and taro, this stew is eaten with rice.
A modern, but delicious spin on Sinigang is Sentro 1771’s version called Sinigang Corned Beef.
Filipinos are huge rice eaters, and breakfast is no exception.
A tap-si-log consists of thin slices of dried marinated beef served with fried egg and garlic rice.
While it is breakfast fare, it's also a quick, satisfying meal you can eat anytime and available in most places. Making it accessible all the time and even available for deliveries, Tapa King serves it in the classic, sweetish and spicy versions.
16. Dinuguan at puto
While it may not look appetizing, this black dish of pork and pig innards stewed in fresh pig blood seasoned with garlic, onion and oregano and eaten with a white puto (rice cake) or steamed rice, is a comforting dish for many Filipinos.
The French may have turned frogs' legs into a delicacy, but Filipinos take it to the next level. They get a frog, stuff it with minced pork and deep-fry it.
While betute isn't for everyone, the adventurous can try it at Everybody's Cafe, an authentic Pampango dining institution for many decades now.
This dish of taro leaves cooked in rich coconut milk is an everyday staple in Bicol. Morsels of meat and chili are added to give punch to the Laing.
It's eaten with steamed rice. The authentic versions from kitchens in Naga and Albay are most delicious. In Manila, try it at Dencio’s.
Up north in Ilocos, the vegetable dish of okra, eggplant, bitter gourd, squash, tomatoes and bagoong (shrimp or fish paste) called pinakbet is a favorite.
And now, this healthy, cheap, and easy to cook dish has made its way around the archipelago. It is cooked in most households and local restaurants.
Cooking with coconut milk is common in the province of Quezon, south of Manila. Freshwater tilapia fish is grilled then simmered in coconut milk and chili.
It's definitely freshest when eaten close to the fishponds as they do in Kamayan Sa Palaisdaan.
While the lechon kawali, the deep fried pork, is a popular dish all over the country, bagnet, from the northern province of Ilocos, is coveted for its irresistible crunchy skin dipped in the sweet-sour vinegar sukang Iloko.
Buy it from the markets of Ilocos, or try it at Café Juanita.
22. Pancit habhab
Trust Filipino ingenuity to adapt noodles to their lifestyle. In Lucban, Quezon, pancit habhab is served on a banana leaf and slurped. Garnished with carrots, chayote, and a few pieces of meat, this cheap noodle dish is most often eaten by students and jeepney drivers on the go.
For an extra special version, try Old Center Panciteria who has been making the noodles since 1937. They add lechon, generous serving of vegetables, and even hand you a fork.
23. Pork barbecue
In a country where almost everything is marinated, skewered and grilled in the street corners, everyone has their favorite barbecue meat. Pork is the most popular.
Cebu is known for barbecue stalls along Larsian Street just off Fuente Osmena Circle.
Manila residents are addicted to that from Ineng's, which has many outlets in Metro Manila, for its big, chunky pieces of pork with a perfect, salty-sweet marinad
Every province has their version of the pork sausage called longaniza. It varies from sweet to garlicky to spicy.
Usually eaten for breakfast with garlic rice, fried egg and a dipping sauce of vinegar.
25. Lumpiang ubod
The fruit, leaves and even the pith of the coconut tree is used in Filipino cuisine. The pith makes a sweet and tender filling for the fresh lumpia, our version of the spring roll.
A delicate egg wrapper contains a savory filling of ubod (the pith of the coconut tree), shrimps, pork, onions and a garlicky sweet sauce.
Bacolod city is known for its petite version of this spring roll.
26. Bicol express
A fitting tribute to people who love coconut and spicy food is bicol express, a fiery chili, pork and coconut milk stew. Try it at the hole-in-the-wall eatery called Top Haus in Makati.
27. Relyenong alimango
Filipino cooks are never fazed by fuzzy food preparations like relyenong alimango. The crab is delicately peeled then sautéed with onions, tomatoes, herbs and stuffed back into the crab shell, then deep fried.
Chicken or bangus (milkfish) are also cooked relyeno. Often cooked in homes for fiestas, but enterprising housewives sell them at the Sunday market in Quezon City (Centris Mall, Edsa, Quezon City) or the Saturday market in Makati (Salcedo Village, Makati)
No trip to the Philippines would be complete without sampling its famous balut. Vendors peddling these eggs on the street chant “Baluuuuut!” to entice buyers.
This 17-day-old duck embryo is boiled, served with rock salt or spicy vinegar and is often consumed with beer.
29. Inihaw na panga ng tuna
General Santos and Davao City are known for their numerous ways with tuna. The panga or jaw is often grilled over coals and dipped in sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, chili and calamansi (local lemon).
30. Fish kinilaw
The day’s fresh catch is dressed in palm coconut vinegar, ginger, chili and spices. Each province has its own way of preparing kinilaw.
Most wet markets will prepare this for you. Most popular in Cebu is to eat it in Su-tu-kil, the row of seafood eateries (Lapu-LapuCity, Mactan,Cebu).