Philippine cuisine consists of the food, preparation methods and eating customs
found in the Philippines. The style of cooking and the food associated with it have
evolved over several centuries from its Austronesian origins to a mixed cuisine with
many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences adapted to indigenous
ingredients and the local palate.
Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to
the elaborate paellas and cocidos created for fiestas. Popular dishes include: lechón
(whole roasted pig), longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), torta
(omelette), adobo (chicken and/or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce, or
cooked until dry), kaldereta (meat in tomato sauce stew), mechado (larded beef in soy
and tomato sauce), puchero (beef in bananas and tomato sauce), afritada (chicken
and/or pork simmered in a tomato sauce with vegetables), kare-kare (oxtail and
vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), crispy pata (deep-fried pig's leg), hamonado
(pork sweetened in pineapple sauce), sinigang (meat or seafood in sour broth), pancit
(noodles), and lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls).
History and influences
During the pre-Hispanic era in the Philippines, the preferred Austronesian
methods for food preparation were boiling, steaming and roasting. The ingredients for
common dishes were obtained from locally raised livestock. These ranged from
kalabaw (water buffaloes), baka (cows), manok (chickens) and baboy (pigs) to various
kinds of fish and seafood. In some locales, additions to the daily diet included,
monitor lizards, snakes, and locusts. In 3200 BCE, Austronesians from the
southern China Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and Taiwan settled in the region that is now
called the Philippines. They brought with them knowledge of rice cultivation and
other farming practices which increased the number and variety of edible dish
ingredients available for cooking.
Trade with Hokkien China in the Philippines prospered prior the arrival of the
European nations, going back as early as the Song dynasty (960–1279 BC) with
porcelain, ceramics, and silk being traded for spices and trapang in Luzon. This
early cultural contact with China introduced a number of staple food into Philippine
cuisine, most notably toyo (soy sauce; Chinese: 豆油;
h-ōe-jī: tāu-yu), tokwa;
h-ōe-jī: tāu-koaⁿ), tawge (bean sprout; Chinese: 豆芽;
hōe-jī: tāu-koaⁿ), and patis (fish sauce), as well as the method of stir frying and making
savory soup bases. Many of these food items and dishes retained their original
Hokkien names, such as pancit (Chinese: 便ê食;
- - t)(Chinese:
扁食; pinyin: biǎn shí), and lumpia (Chinese: 潤餅;
h-ōe-jī: jūn-piáⁿ, lūn-piáⁿ).
The Chinese food introduced during this period were food of the workers and traders,
which became a staple of the noodle shops (panciterias), and can be seen in dishes
like arroz caldo (congee), sinangag (fried rice), chopsuey.
Spanish settlers brought with them produce from the Americas like chili
peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and the method of sautéing with garlic and onions.
Although chili peppers are nowhere as widely used in Filipino cooking compared to
much of Southeast Asia, chili leaves are frequently used as a cooking green, again
distinct from the cooking of neighbors. Spanish (and Mexican) dishes were eventually
incorporated into Philippine cuisine with the more complex dishes usually being
prepared for special occasions. Some dishes such as arroz a la valenciana remain
largely the same in the Philippine context. Some have been adapted or have come to
take on a slightly or significantly different meaning. Arroz a la cubana served in the
Philippines usually includes ground beef picadillo. Philippine longganisa despite its
name is more akin to chorizo than Spanish longaniza. Morcon is likely to refer to a
beef roulade dish not the bulbous specialty Spanish sausage.
Today, Philippine cuisine continues to evolve as new techniques, styles of
cooking, and ingredients find their way into the country. Traditional dishes both
simple and elaborate, indigenous and foreign-influenced, are seen as are more current
popular international viands and fast food fare.
Filipino cuisine is distinguished by its bold combination of sweet (tamis), sour
(asim), and salty (alat) flavors. While other Asian cuisines may be known for a more
subtle delivery and presentation, Filipino cuisine is often delivered all at once in a
Counterpoint is a feature in Philippine cuisine which normally comes in a
pairing of something sweet with something salty, and results in surprisingly pleasing
combinations. Examples include: champorado (a sweet cocoa rice porridge), being
paired with tuyo (salted, sun-dried fish); dinuguan (a savory stew made of pig's blood
and innards), paired with puto (sweet, steamed rice cakes); unripe fruits such as
mangoes (which are only slightly sweet but very sour), are eaten dipped in salt or
bagoong; the use of cheese (which is salty) in sweetcakes (such as bibingka and puto),
as well as an ice cream flavoring.
Vinegar is a common ingredient. Adobo is popular not solely for its simplicity
and ease of preparation, but also for its ability to be stored for days without spoiling,
and even improve in flavor with a day or two of storage. Tinapa is a smoke-cured fish
while tuyo, daing, and dangit are corned, sun-dried fish popular because they can last
for weeks without spoiling, even without refrigeration.
Cooking and eating in the Philippines has traditionally been an informal and
communal affair centered around the family kitchen. Filipinos traditionally eat three
main meals a day: agahan or almusal (breakfast), tanghalían (lunch), and hapunan
(dinner) plus an afternoon snack called meriénda (also called minandál or minindál).
Snacking is normal. Dinner, while still the main meal, is smaller than other countries.
Usually, either breakfast or lunch is the largest meal. Food tends to be served all at
once and not in courses. Unlike many of their Asian counterparts Filipinos do not eat
with chopsticks. Due to Western influence, food is often eaten using flatware—forks,
knives, spoons—but the primary pairing of utensils used at a Filipino dining table is
that of spoon and fork not knife and fork. The traditional way of eating is with the
hands, especially dry dishes such as inihaw or prito. The diner will take a bite of the
main dish, then eat rice pressed together with his fingers. This practice, known as
kamayan, is rarely seen in urbanized areas. However, Filipinos tend to feel the spirit
of kamayan when eating amidst nature during out of town trips, beach vacations, and
As with most Asian countries, the staple food in the Philippines is rice. It is
most often steamed and served during meals. Leftover rice is often fried with garlic to
make sinangag, which is usually served at breakfast together with a fried egg and
cured meat or sausages. Rice is often enjoyed with the sauce or broth from the main
dishes. In some regions, rice is mixed with salt, condensed milk, cocoa, or coffee.
Rice flour is used in making sweets, cakes and other pastries. While rice is the main
staple food, bread is also a common staple.
A variety of fruits and vegetables are often used in cooking. Bananas (the saba
variety in particular), Calamondin (kalamansi), guavas (bayabas), mangoes, papayas,
and pineapples lend a distinctly tropical flair in many dishes, but mainstay green leafy
vegetables like water spinach (kangkong), Chinese cabbage (petsay), Napa cabbage
(petsay wombok), cabbage (repolyo) and other vegetables like eggplants (talong) and
yard-long beans (sitaw) are just as commonly used. Coconuts are ubiquitous. Coconut
meat is often used in desserts, coconut milk (kakang gata) in sauces, and coconut oil
for frying. Abundant harvests of root crops like potatoes, carrots, taro (gabi), cassava
(kamoteng kahoy), purple yam (ube), and sweet potato (kamote) make them readily
available. The combination of tomatoes (kamatis), garlic (bawang), and onions
(sibuyas) is found in many dishes.
Meat staples include chicken, pork, beef, and fish. Seafood is popular as a
result of the bodies of water surrounding the archipelago. Popular catches include
tilapia, catfish (hito), milkfish (bangus), grouper (lapu-lapu), shrimp (hipon), prawns
(sugpo), mackerel (galunggong, hasa-hasa), swordfish, oysters (talaba), mussels
(tahong), clams (halaan and tulya), large and small crabs (alimango and alimasag
respectively), game fish, sablefish, tuna, cod, blue marlin, and squid/cuttlefish (both
called pusit). Also popular are seaweeds, abalone, and eel.
The most common way of having fish is to have it salted, pan-fried or deepfried, and then eaten as a simple meal with rice and vegetables. It may also be cooked
in a sour broth of tomatoes or tamarind as in pangat, prepared with vegetables and a
souring agent to make sinigang, simmered in vinegar and peppers to make paksiw, or
roasted over hot charcoal or wood (inihaw). Other preparations include escabeche
(sweet and sour) or relleno (deboned and stuffed). Fish can be preserved by being
smoked (tinapa) or sun-dried (tuyo or daing).
Food is often served with various dipping sauces. Fried food is often dipped in
vinegar, soy sauce, juice squeezed from kalamansi (Philippine lime, calamondin, or
calamansi), or a combination of two or all. Patis (fish sauce) may be mixed with
kalamansi as dipping sauce for most seafood. Fish sauce, fish paste (bagoong), shrimp
paste (bagoong alamang) and crushed ginger root (luya) are condiments that are often
added to dishes during the cooking process or when served.
A traditional Filipino breakfast might include pandesal (small bread rolls),
kesong puti (white cheese), champorado (chocolate rice porridge), sinangag (garlic
fried rice), and meat—such as tapa, longganisa, tocino, karne norte (corned beef), or
fish such as daing na bangus (salted and dried milkfish)—or itlog na pula (salted duck
eggs). Coffee is also commonly served particularly kapeng barako, a variety of coffee
produced in the mountains of Batangas noted for having a strong flavor.
Certain portmanteaus in Filipino have come into use to describe popular
combinations of items in a Filipino breakfast. An example of such a combination
order is kankamtuy: an order of kanin (rice), kamatis (tomatoes) and tuyo (dried fish).
Another is tapsi: an order of tapa and sinangág. Other examples include variations
using a silog suffix, usually some kind of meat served with sinangág and itlog (egg).
The three most commonly seen silogs are tapsilog (having tapa as the meat portion),
tocilog (having tocino as the meat portion), and longsilog (having longganisa as the
meat portion). Other silogs include hotsilog (with a hot dog), bangsilog (with bangus
(milkfish)), dangsilog (with danggit (rabbitfish)), spamsilog (with spam), adosilog
(with adobo), chosilog (with chorizo), chiksilog (with chicken), cornsilog (with
corned beef), and litsilog (with lechon/litson). Pankaplog is a slang term referring to a
breakfast consisting of pandesal, kape (coffee), and itlog (egg). An establishment
that specializes in such meals is called a tapsihan or "tapsilugan".
Merienda is taken from the Spanish, and is a light meal or snack especially in
the afternoon, similar to the concept of afternoon tea. If the meal is taken close to
dinner, it is called merienda cena, and may be served instead of dinner.
Filipinos have a number of options to take with their traditional kape (coffee):
breads and pastries like pandesal, ensaymada (buttery sweet rolls covered with
cheese), hopia (pastries similar to mooncakes filled with sweet bean paste) and
empanada (savory pastries stuffed with meat). There's also the option of cakes made
with sticky rice (kakanin) like kutsinta, sapin-sapin, palitaw, biko, suman, bibingka,
Savory dishes often eaten during merienda include pancit canton (stir-fried
noodles), palabok (rice noodles with a shrimp-based sauce), tokwa't baboy (fried tofu
with boiled pork ears in a garlic-flavored soy sauce and vinegar sauce), and dinuguan
(a spicy stew made with pork blood) which is often served with puto (steamed rice
Dim sum and dumplings, brought over by the Fujianese people, have been
given a Filipino touch and are often eaten for merienda. Street food, most of which are
skewered on bamboo sticks, such as squid balls, fish balls and others, are common
Pulutan (from the Filipino word pulutin which literally means "something that
is picked up") is a term roughly analogous to the English term "finger food".
Originally, it was a snack accompanied with liquor or beer but has found its way into
Philippine cuisine as appetizers or, in some cases, main dishes, as in the case of sisig.
Deep fried pulutan include chicharrón (also spelled tsitsaron), pork rinds that
have been salted, dried, then fried; chicharong bituka, pig intestines that have been
deep fried to a crisp; chicharong bulaklak, similar to chicharong bituka it is made
from mesenteries of pig intestines and has a bulaklak or flower appearance; and
chicharong manok, chicken skin that has been deep fried until crisp.
Some grilled food include barbecue isaw, chicken or pig intestines marinated
and skewered; barbecue tenga, pig ears that have been marinated and skewered; pork
barbecue which is skewered pork marinated in a usually sweet blend; betamax, salted
solidified pork or chicken blood which is skewered; adidas which is grilled or sautéed
chicken feet. And there is sisig a popular pulutan made from the pig's cheek skin, ears
and liver that is initially boiled, then grilled over charcoal and afterwards minced and
cooked with chopped onions, chillies, and spices.
Smaller snacks such as mani (peanuts) are often sold boiled in the shell, salted,
spiced or flavored with garlic by street vendors in the Philippines. Another snack is
kropeck, which is fish crackers.
Fried tokwa't baboy is tofu fried with boiled pork then dipped in a garlicflavored soy sauce or vinegar dip that is also served as a side dish to pancit luglog or
Breads and pastries
In a typical Filipino bakery, pandesal, monay and ensaymada are often sold.
Pandesal comes from the Spanish pan de sal (literally, bread of salt), and is a
ubiquitous breakfast fare, normally eaten with (and sometimes even dipped in) coffee.
It typically takes the form of a bread roll, and is usually baked covered in bread
crumbs. Contrary to what its name implies, pandesal is not particularly salty as very
little salt is used in baking it. Monay is a firmer slightly denser heavier bread.
Ensaymada, from the Spanish ensaimada, is a pastry made using butter and often
topped with sugar and shredded cheese that is especially popular during Christmas. It
is sometimes made with fillings such as ube (purple yam) and macapuno (a variety of
coconut the meat of which is often cut into strings, sweetened, preserved, and served
in desserts). Also commonly sold in Filipino bakeries is pan de coco, a sweet bread
roll filled with shredded coconut mixed with molasses. Putok, which literally means
"explode", refers to a small, hard bread roll whose cratered surface is glazed with
sugar. Kababayan is a small, sweet gong-shaped muffin that has a moist consistency.
Spanish bread refers to a rolled pastry which looks like a croissant prior to being given
a crescent shape, and has a filling consisting of sugar and butter.
There are also rolls like pianono, which is a chiffon roll flavored with different
fillings. Brazo de mercedes, a rolled cake or jelly roll, is made from a sheet of
meringue rolled around a custard filling. Similar to the previous dessert, it takes on a
layered presentation instead of being rolled and typically features caramelized sugar
and nuts for sans rival. Silvañas are large, oval-shaped, cookie-sized desserts, with a
thin meringue on either side of a buttercream filling and dusted with crumbed cookies.
Not overly sweet, they are rich, crisp, chewy, and buttery all at the same time.
Barquillos use sweet thin crunchy wafers rolled into tubes that can be sold hollow or
filled with polvoron (sweetened and toasted flour mixed with ground nuts). Meringues
are also present in the Philippines, due to the Spanish influence, but they are called
merengue – with all the vowels pronounced. Leche flan is a type of caramel custard
made with eggs and milk similar to the French creme caramel.
The egg pie with a very rich egg custard filling is a mainstay in local bakeries.
It is typically baked so that the exposed custard on top is browned. Buko pie is made
with a filling made from young coconut meat and dairy. Mini pastries like turrones de
casuy are made up of cashew marzipan wrapped with a wafer made to resemble a
candy wrapper but take on a miniature look of a pie in a size of about a quarter. There
is also napoleones – again with all the vowels pronounced – a mille-feuille pastry
stuffed with a sweet milk-based filling.
There are hard pastries like biskotso a crunchy, sweet, twice-baked bread.
Another baked goody is sinipit which is a sweet pastry covered in a crunchy sugar
glaze, made to resemble a length of rope. Similar to sinipit is a snack eaten on
roadsides colloquially called shingaling. It is hollow but crunchy with a salty flavor.
For a softer treat there is mamon a chiffon-type cake sprinkled with sugar, its
name derived from a slang Spanish term for breast. There's also crema de fruta, which
is an elaborate sponge cake topped in succeeding layers of cream, custard, candied
fruit, and gelatine. Similar to a sponge cake is mamoncillo which generally refers to
slices taken from a large mamon cake, but it is unrelated to the fruit of the same name.
Sandwich pastries like inipit are made with two thin layers of chiffon sandwiching a
filling of custard that is topped with butter and sugar. Another mamon variant is
mamon tostada, basically mamoncillo toasted to a crunchy texture.
Stuffed pastries of both Western and Eastern influence are common. One can
find empanadas, turnover-type pastry filled with a savory-sweet meat filling.
Typically made with ground meat and raisins, it can be deep fried or baked. Siopao is
the local version of Chinese baozi. Buchi is another snack probably of Chinese origin.
Bite-sized, buchi is made of deep-fried dough balls (often from rice flour) filled with a
sweet mung bean paste, and coated on the outside with sesame seeds, some variants
have ube as the filling. There are also many varieties of the mooncake-like hopia,
which come in different shapes (from a flat, circular stuffed form, to cubes), and have
different textures (predominantly using flaky pastry, but sometimes like the ones in
mooncakes) and fillings.
For festive occasions, Filipino women band together and prepare more
sophisticated dishes. Tables are often laden with expensive and labor-intensive treats
requiring hours of preparation. In Filipino celebrations, lechón (also litson) serves as
the centerpiece of the dinner table. It is usually a whole roasted suckling pig, but
piglets (lechonillo, or lechon de leche) or cattle calves (lechong baka) can also be
prepared in place to the popular adult pig. It is typically served with lechon sauce.
Other dishes include hamonado (honey-cured beef, pork or chicken), relleno (stuffed
chicken or milkfish), mechado, afritada, caldereta, puchero, paella, menudo, morcon,
embutido (referring to a meatloaf dish, not a sausage as understood elsewhere), suman
(a savory rice and coconut milk concoction steamed in leaves such as banana), and
pancit canton. The table may also be have various sweets and pastries such as leche
flan, ube, sapin-sapin, sorbetes (ice creams), totong (a rice, coconut milk and mongo
bean pudding), ginataan (a coconut milk pudding with various root vegetables and
tapioca pearls), and gulaman (an agar jello-like ingredient or dessert).
Christmas Eve, known as Noche Buena, is the most important feast. During this
evening, the star of the table is the Christmas ham and Edam cheese (queso de bola).
Supermarkets are laden with these treats during the Christmas season and are popular
giveaways by Filipino companies in addition to red wine, brandy, groceries, or
pastries. Available mostly during the Christmas season and sold in front of churches
along with bibingka, puto bumbong is a purple yam-flavored puto.
More common at celebrations than in everyday home meals, lumpiang sariwa,
sometimes referred to as fresh lumpia, is a fresh spring roll that consists of a soft crepe
wrapped around a filling that can include strips of kamote (sweet potato), singkamas
(jicama), bean sprouts, green beans, cabbage, carrots and meat (often pork). It can be
served warm or cold and typically with a sweet peanut and garlic sauce. Ukoy is
shredded papaya combined with small shrimp (and occasionally bean sprouts) and
fried to make shrimp patties. It is often eaten with vinegar seasoned with garlic, salt
and pepper. Both lumpiang sariwa and ukoy are often accompanied together in
Filipino parties. Lumpiang sariwa has Chinese origins, having been derived from
The Philippine islands are home to various ethnic groups resulting in varied
Northern Philippine cuisine
Ilocanos, from the rugged Ilocos region, boast of a diet heavy in boiled or
steamed vegetables and freshwater fish, but they are particularly fond of dishes
flavored with bagoong, fermented fish that is often used instead of salt. Ilocanos often
season boiled vegetables with bagoong monamon (fermented anchovy paste) to
produce pinakbet. Local specialties include the soft white larvae of ants and "jumping
salad" of tiny live shrimp.
The Igorots prefer roasted meats, particularly carabao meat, goat meat, and
Due to its mild, sub-tropical climate, Baguio, along with the outlying
mountainous regions, is renowned for its produce. Temperate-zone fruits and
vegetables (strawberries being a notable example) which would otherwise wilt in
lower regions are grown there. It is also known for a snack called sundot-kulangot
which literally means "poke the booger." It's actually a sticky kind of sweet made
from milled glutinous rice flour mixed with molasses, and served inside pitogo shells,
and with a stick to "poke" its sticky substance with.
The town of Calasiao in Pangasinan is known for its puto, a type of steamed
Pampanga is the culinary center of the Philippines. Kapampangan cuisine
makes use of all the produce in the region available to the native cook. Among the
treats produced in Pampanga are longganisa (original sweet and spicy sausages),
calderetang kambing (savory goat stew), and tocino (sweetened cured pork).
Combining pork cheeks and offal, Kapampangans make sisig. Kare-kare is also
thought to have been originated from Pampanga.
Bulacan is popular for chicharon (pork rinds) and steamed rice and tuber cakes
like puto. It is a center for panghimagas or desserts, like brown rice cake or kutsinta,
sapin-sapin, suman, cassava cake, halaya ube and the king of sweets, in San Miguel,
Bulacan, the famous carabao milk candy pastillas de leche, with its pabalat
Cainta, in Rizal province east of Manila, is known for its Filipino rice cakes
and puddings. These are usually topped with latik, a mixture of coconut milk and
brown sugar, reduced to a dry crumbly texture. A more modern, and time saving
alternative to latik are coconut flakes toasted in a frying pan.
Antipolo, straddled mid-level in the mountainous regions of the Philippine
Sierra Madre, is a town known for its suman and cashew products.
Laguna is known for buko pie (coconut pie) and panutsa (peanut brittle).
Batangas is home to Taal Lake, a body of water that surrounds Taal Volcano.
The lake is home to 75 species of freshwater fish. Among these, the maliputo and
tawilis are two not commonly found elsewhere. These fish are delicious native
delicacies. Batangas is also known for its special coffee, kapeng barako.
Central Philippine cuisine
Bicol is known for its very spicy Bicol express. The region is also the wellknown home of natong also known as laing or pinangat (a pork or fish stew in taro
Bacolod is known for chicken "inasal" which is a kind of roast chicken served
Iloilo is known for La Paz batchoy, pancit molo, dinuguan, puto, biscocho and
Cebu is known for its lechón. Lechon prepared "Cebu style" is characterized by
a crisp outer skin and a moist juicy meat with a unique taste given by a blend of
spices. Cebu is also known for sweets like dried mangoes and caramel tarts.
Southern Philippine cuisine
In Mindanao, the southern part of Palawan island, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, dishes
are richly flavored with the spices common to Southeast Asia: turmeric, coriander,
lemon grass, cumin, and chillies — ingredients not commonly used in the rest of
Filipino cooking. Being free from Hispanicization, the cuisine of the indigenous Moro
and Lumad peoples of Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago has much in common with
the rich and spicy Malay cuisines of Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Indonesian and
Well-known dishes from the region include Satti (satay) and ginataang manok
(chicken cooked in spiced coconut milk). Certain parts of Mindanao is predominantly
Muslim, where pork is rarely consumed.
Rendang, a ofspicy beef curry with its origins among the Minangkabau people
of Sumatra; biryani and kiyoning (pilaf), dishes originally from the Middle East, are
given a Mindanaoan touch and served at special occasions.
Pyanggang is a Tausug dish made from barbecued chicken marinaded in
spices, and is served with coconut milk infused with toasted coconut meat.
Popular crops such as cassava root, sweet potatoes, and yams are grown.
Sambal, a spicy sauce made with belacan, tamarind, aromatic spices and
chillies, is a popular base to many dishes in the region.
Another popular dish from this region is tiyula itum, a dark broth of beef or
chicken lightly flavored with ginger, chili, turmeric, and toasted coconut flesh (which
gives it its dark color).
Adobo is one of the most popular Filipino dishes and is considered unofficially
by many as the national dish. It usually consists of pork or chicken, sometimes both,
stewed or braised in a sauce usually made from vinegar, cooking oil, garlic, bay leaf,
peppercorns, and soy sauce. It can also be prepared "dry" by cooking out the liquid
and concentrating the flavor. Bistek, also known as "Filipino beef steak," consists of
thinly sliced beef marinated in soy sauce and calamansi and then fried in a skillet that
is typically served with onions.
Some well-known stews are kare-kare and dinuguan. In kare-kare, also known
as "peanut stew", the oxtail or ox tripe is the main ingredient and is cooked with
vegetables in a peanut-based preparation. It is typically served with bagoong
(fermented shrimp paste). In dinuguan, a pig's blood, entrails, and meat are cooked
with vinegar and seasoned with chili peppers, usually siling mahaba.
Paksiw refers to different vinegar-based stews that differ greatly from one
another based on the type of meat used. Paksiw na isda uses fish and usually includes
the addition of ginger, fish sauce, and maybe siling mahaba and vegetables. Paksiw na
baboy is a paksiw using pork, usually pork hocks, and often sees the addition of sugar,
banana blossoms, and water so that the meat is stewed in a sweet sauce. A similar
Visayan dish called humba adds fermented black beans. Both dishes are probably
related to pata tim which is of Chinese origin. Paksiw na lechon is made from lechon
meat and features the addition of ground liver or liver spread. This adds flavor and
thickens the sauce so that it starts to caramelize around the meat by the time dish is
finished cooking. Although some versions of paksiw dishes are made using the same
basic ingredients as adobo, they are prepared differently, with other ingredients added
and the proportions of ingredients and water being different.
In crispy pata, pork knuckles (the pata) are marinated in garlic-flavored
vinegar then deep fried until crisp and golden brown, with other parts of the pork leg
prepared in the same way. Lechon manok is the Filipino take on rotisserie chicken.
Available in many hole-in-the-wall stands or restaurant chains (e.g. Andok's, Baliwag,
Toto's, Sr. Pedro's, G.S. Pagtakhan's), it is typically a specially seasoned chicken
roasted over a charcoal flame served with "sarsa" or lechon sauce made from mashed
pork liver, starch, sugar, and spices.
Mechado, kaldereta, and afritada are Spanish influenced tomato sauce-based
dishes that are somewhat similar to one another. In these dishes meat is cooked in
tomato sauce, minced garlic, and onions. Mechado gets its name from the pork fat that
is inserted in a slab of beef making it look like a wick (mitsa) coming out of a beef
"candle". The larded meat is then cooked in a seasoned tomato sauce and later sliced
and served with the sauce it was cooked in. Kaldereta can be beef but is also
associated with goat. Chunks of meat are cooked in tomato sauce, minced garlic,
chopped onions, peas, carrots, bell peppers and potatoes to make a stew with some
recipes calling for the addition of soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, chilies, ground liver
or some combination thereof. Afritada tends to be the name given to the dish when
chicken and pork is used. Another similar dish said to originate from the Rizal area is
waknatoy. Pork or beef sirloin is combined with potatoes and cut sausages and cooked
in a tomato-based sauce sweetened with pickles. Puchero is derived from the Spanish
cocido; it is a sweeter stew that has beef and banana or plantain slices simmered in
Filipinos also eat tocino and longganisa. Tocino is a sweetened cured meat
made with either chicken or pork and is marinated and cured for a number of days
before being fried. Longganisa is a sweet or spicy sausage, typically made from pork
though other meats can also be used, and are often colored red traditionally through
the use of the anatto seed but also artificial food coloring.
Filipino soups tend to be very hearty and stew-like containing large chunks of
meat and vegetables or noodles. They are usually intended to be filling and not meant
to be a light preparatory introduction for the main course. They tend to be served with
the rest of the meal and eaten with rice when they are not meals unto themselves.
They are often referred to on local menus under the heading sabaw (broth). Sinigang
is a popular dish in this category distinguished by its sourness that often vies with
adobo for consideration as the national dish. It is typically made with either pork,
beef, chicken or seafood and made sour with tamarind or other suitable souring
ingredients. Some seafood variants for example can be made sour by the use of guava
fruit or miso. Another dish is tinola. It has large chicken pieces and green papaya
slices cooked with chili, spinach, and moringa leaves in a ginger-flavored broth.
Nilagang baka is a beef stew made with cabbages and other vegetables. Binacol is a
warm chicken soup cooked with coconut water and served with strips of coconut
meat. La Paz batchoy is a noodle soup garnished with pork innards, crushed pork
cracklings, chopped vegetables, and topped with a raw egg. Another dish with the
same name uses misua, beef heart, kidneys and intestines, but does not contain eggs or
vegetables. Mami is a noodle soup made from chicken, beef, pork, wonton dumplings,
or intestines (called laman-loob). Ma Mon Luk was known for it. Another chicken
noodle soup is sotanghon, consisting of cellophane noodles (also called sotanghon and
from whence the name of the dish is derived), chicken, and sometimes mushrooms.
Noodle dishes are generally called pancit. Pancit recipes primarily consist of
noodles, vegetables, and slices of meat or shrimp with variations often distinguished
by the type of noodles used. Some pancit, such as mami and La Paz-styled batchoy,
are noodle soups while the "dry" varieties are comparable to chow mein in
preparation. Then there is spaghetti or ispageti in the local parlance that is a modified
version of spaghetti bolognese. It is sometimes made with banana ketchup instead of
tomato sauce, sweetened with sugar and topped with hot dog slices.
There are several rice porridges that are popular in the Philippines. One is arroz
caldo which is a rice porridge cooked with chicken, ginger and sometimes saffron,
garnished with spring onions (chives), toasted garlic, and coconut milk to make a type
of gruel. Another variant is goto which is an arroz caldo made with ox tripe. There is
also another much different rice porridge called champorado which is sweet and
flavored with chocolate and often served at breakfast paired with tuyo or daing.
Another rice-based dish is arroz a la valenciana, a Spanish paella named after
the Spanish region Valencia that has been incorporated into the local cuisine. Bringhe
is a local rice dish with some similarities to paella but using glutinous rice, coconut
milk, and turmeric. Kiampong a type of fried rice topped with pork pieces, chives and
peanuts. It can be found in Chinese restaurants in Binondo and Manila.
For vegetarians, there is dinengdeng, a dish consisting of moringa leaves
(malunggay) and slices of bittermelon. There is also pinakbet, stewed vegetables
heavily flavored with bagoong. A type of seafood salad known as kinilaw is made up
of raw seafood such as fish or shrimp cooked only by steeping in local vinegar,
sometimes with coconut milk, onions, spices and other local ingredients. It is
comparable to the Peruvian ceviche.
Side dishes and complements
Itlog na pula (red eggs) are duck eggs that have been cured in brine or a
mixture of clay-and-salt for a few weeks, making them salty. They are later hard
boiled and dyed with red food coloring, hence its name, to distinguish them from
chicken eggs before they are sold over the shelves. They are often served mixed in
with diced tomatoes. Atchara is a side dish of pickled papaya strips similar to
sauerkraut. It's a frequent accompaniment to fried dishes like tapa or daing.
Nata de coco is a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food product produced by the
fermentation of coconut water can be served with pandesal. Kesong puti is a soft
white cheese made from carabao milk (although cow milk is also used in most
commercial variants). Grated mature coconut (niyog), is normally served with sweet
As a tropical oriental country it should come as no surprise there are many
treats made from rice and coconuts. One often seen dessert is bibingka, a hot rice cake
optionally topped with a pat of butter, slices of kesong puti (white cheese), itlog na
maalat (salted duck eggs), and sometimes grated coconut. There is also glutinous rice
sweets called biko made with sugar, butter, and coconut milk. Another brown rice
cake is kutsinta. Puto is another well known example of sweet steamed rice cakes
prepared in many different sizes and colors. Sapin-sapin are three-layered, tri-colored
sweets made with rice flour, purple yam, and coconut milk with its gelatinous
appearance. Palitaw are rice patties covered with sesame seeds, sugar, and coconut;
pitsi-pitsi which are cassava patties coated with cheese or coconut; and tibok-tibok is
based on carabao milk as a de leche (similar to maja blanca). As a snack, binatog is
created with corn kernels with shredded coconut. Packaged snacks wrapped in banana
or palm leaves then steamed, suman are made from sticky rice.
For cold desserts there is halo-halo which can be described as a dessert made
with shaved ice, milk, and sugar with additional ingredients like coconut, halaya
(mashed purple yam), caramel custard, plantains, jackfruit, red beans, tapioca and
pinipig being typical. Other similar treats made with shaved ice include saba con yelo
which is shaved ice served with milk and minatamis na saging (ripe plantains chopped
and caramelized with brown sugar); mais con yelo which is shaved ice served with
steamed corn kernels, sugar, and milk; and buko pandan sweetened grated strips of
coconut with gulaman, milk, and the juice or extract from pandan leaves. Sorbetes (ice
cream) is popular too. A local version uses coconut milk instead of cow milk. Ice
candy made from juice or chocolate put it in a freezer to freeze is another treat. It can
be any kind of flavor depending on the maker; chocolate and buko (coconut) flavored
ice candy are two of the most popular.
Aside from pastries and desserts, there are heartier snacks for merienda that
can also serve as an appetizer or side dish for a meal.Siomai is the local version of
Chinese shaomai. Lumpia are spring rolls that can be either fresh or fried. Fresh
lumpia (lumpiang sariwa) is usually made for fiestas or special occasions as it can be
labor-intensive to prepare, while one version of fried lumpia (lumpiang prito),
lumpiang shanghai is usually filled with ground pork and a combination of
vegetables, and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce.  Other variations are
filled with minced pork and shrimp and accompanied by a vinegar-based dipping
sauce. Lumpia has been commercialized in frozen food form.
There's a distinct range of street foods available in the Philippines. Some of
these are skewered on sticks in the manner of a kebab. One such example is bananacue which is a whole banana or plantain skewered on a short thin bamboo stick, rolled
in brown sugar, and fried. Kamote-cue is a peeled sweet potato skewered on a stick,
covered in brown sugar and then fried. Fish balls or squid balls are skewered on
bamboo sticks then dipped in a sweet or savory sauce to be commonly sold frozen in
markets and peddled by street vendors.
Turon, a kind of fried lumpia consisting of an eggroll or phyllo wrapper filled
with plantain and jackfruit and sprinkled with sugar can also be found sold in streets.
Taho is a warm treat made up of soft beancurd which is the taho itself, dark
caramel syrup called arnibal, and tapioca pearls. It is often sold in neighborhoods by
street vendors who yell out "taho" in a manner like vendors in the stands at sporting
events yell out "hotdogs" or "peanuts". Sometimes taho is served chilled or flavors
have been added such as chocolate or strawberry. Taho is derived from the original
Chinese snack food known as douhua.
There is also iskrambol (from the English "to scramble"), that is a kind of icedbased treat like a sorbet combined with various flavorings and usually topped with
chocolate syrup. It is eaten by "scrambling" the contents or mixing them, then
drinking with a large straw.
Street food featuring eggs include kwek-kwek which are hard-boiled quail eggs
dipped in orange-dyed batter and then deep fried similar to tempura. Tokneneng is a
larger version of kwek-kwek using chicken or duck eggs. Another Filipino egg snack is
balut, essentially a boiled pre-hatched poultry egg, usually duck or chicken. These
fertilized eggs are allowed to develop until the embryo reaches a pre-determined size
and are then boiled. There is also another egg dish called penoy which is basically
hard-boiled unfertilized duck eggs. Like taho, balut is advertised by street hawkers
calling out their product.
Okoy also spelled as ukoy is another batter-covered, deep-fried street food in
the Philippines. Along with the batter, it normally includes bean sprouts, shredded
pumpkin and very small shrimps, shells and all. It is commonly dipped in a
combination of vinegar and chilli.
Among other street food are already mentioned pulutan like isaw, seasoned hog
or chicken intestines; betamax, roasted dried chicken blood served cut into and served
as small cubes for which it received its name in resemblance to a Betamax tape; and
proven, the proventriculus of a chicken coated in cornstarch and deep-fried. There is
also pinoy fries which are fries made from sweet potatoes.
Some exotic dishes in the Filipino diet are camaro, which are field crickets
cooked in soy sauce, salt, and vinegar as it is popular in Pampanga; papaitan which is
goat or beef innards stew flavored with bile that gives it a bitter (pait) taste; Soup No.
5 (Also spelled as "Soup #5") which is a soup made out of bull's testes, and can
be found in restaurants in Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila; asocena or dog meat popular
in the Cordillera Administrative Region; and pinikpikan na manok that involves
having a chicken beaten to death to tenderize the meat and to infuse it with blood. It is
then burned in fire to remove its feathers then boiled with salt and itag (salt/smoke
cured pork). The act of beating the chicken in preparation of the dish apparently
violates the Philippine Animal Welfare Act 1998.
The Filipino/Tagalog words for popular cooking methods and terms are listed
"Adobo/Inadobo" − cooked in vinegar, oil, garlic and soy sauce.
"Babad/Binabad/Ibinabad" − to marinate.
"Banli/Binanlian/Pabanli" − blanched.
"Bagoong/Binagoongan/ – sa Bagoong" − cooked with fermented fish paste
"Binalot" – literally "wrapped." This generally refers to dishes wrapped in
banana leaves, pandan leaves, or even aluminum foil. The wrapper is generally
inedible (in contrast to lumpia — see below).
"Buro/Binuro" − fermented.
"Daing/Dinaing/Padaing" − marinated with garlic, vinegar, and black peppers.
Sometimes dried and usually fried before eating.
"Guinataan/sa Gata" − cooked with coconut milk.
"Guisa/Guisado/Ginisa" or "Gisado" − sautéed with garlic, onions and/or
"Halabos/Hinalabos" – mostly for shellfish. Steamed in their own juices and
sometimes carbonated soda.
"Hilaw/Sariwa" – unripe (for fruits and vegetables), raw (for meats). Also used
for uncooked food in general (as in lumpiang sariwa).
"Hinurno" – baked in an oven or roasted.
"Ihaw/Inihaw" − grilled over coals.
"Kinilaw" or "Kilawin" − marinated in vinegar or calamansi juice along with
garlic, onions, ginger, tomato, peppers.
"Laga/Nilaga/Palaga" − boiled/braised.
"Nilasing" − cooked with an alcoholic beverage like wine or beer.
"Lechon/Litson/Nilechon" − roasted on a spit.
"Lumpia" – wrapped with an edible wrapper.
"Minatamis" − sweetened.
"Pinakbet" − to cook with vegetables usually with sitaw (yardlong beans),
calabaza, talong (eggplant), and ampalaya (bitter melon) among others and
"Paksiw/Pinaksiw" − cooked in vinegar.
"Pangat/Pinangat" − boiled in salted water with fruit such as tomatoes or ripe
"Palaman/Pinalaman" − "filled" as in siopao, though "palaman" also refers to
the filling in a sandwich.
"Pinakuluan" – boiled.
"Prito/Pinirito" − fried or deep fried. From the Spanish frito.
"Relleno/Relyeno" – stuffed.
"Tapa/Tinapa" – dried and smoked. Tapa refers to meat treated in this manner,
mostly marinated and then dried and fried afterwards. Tinapa meanwhile is
almost exclusively associated with smoked fish.
"Sarza/Sarciado" – cooked with a thick sauce.
"Sinangag" – garlic fried rice.
"Sigang/Sinigang" − boiled in a sour broth usually with a tamarind base. Other
common souring agents include guava, raw mangoes, calamansi also known as
"Tosta/Tinosta/Tostado" – toasted.
"Torta/Tinorta/Patorta" – to cook with eggs in the manner of an omelette.
Drinks and cocktails
Chilled drinks and shakes
Due to the tropical climate, chilled drinks are popular. Stands selling cold fruit
drinks and fruit shakes are common. Tropical fruit drinks one encounters include
those based on dalandan (green mandarin), suha (pomelo), pinya (pineapple), banana,
and guyabano. The shakes usually contain crushed ice, evaporated or condensed milk,
and fruits like the perennially popular mango. Other fruit flavors are melon, papaya,
avocado, watermelon, strawberry, and durian, to name but a few.
Other chilled drinks include sago't gulaman a flavored iced-drink with sago
pearls and agar gelatin with banana extract sometimes added to the accompanying
syrup; fresh buko juice, the water or juice straight out of a young coconut via an
inserted straw, a less fresh variation of which is made out of bottled coconut juice,
scraped coconut flesh, sugar, and water; and calamansi juice, the juice of Philippine
limes usually sweetened with honey, syrup or sugar.
There are some commonly known variations of tea in the country. Pandan iced
tea made is made with pandan leaves and lemongrass. Salabat, sometimes called
ginger tea, is brewed from ginger root. There is also coffee. Coffee from the cool
mountains of Batangas is known as kapeng barako. Tsokolate is the Filipino take on
hot chocolate. It is traditionally made from dry powdery chocolate tablets called
There are a wide variety of alcoholic drinks in the Philippines manufactured by
local breweries and distilleries. This includes brandy, and its variations such as
brandy-iced tea powder (a popular cocktail consisting of one or more liqueurs and
iced tea powder); and brandy-grape juice powder (same as above but with grape juice
powder). Rum is often associated with Tanduay. For serbesa (beer), the
most popular choices in restaurants and bars are San Miguel Beer, Red Horse Beer
and San Miguel Light.
Several gins, both local varieties like Ginebra San Miguel (as well as GSM
Blue and GSM Premium Gin) and imported brands like Gilbey's, are commonly
found. Some people refer to gin by the shape of the bottle: bilog for a circular bottle
and kwatro kantos (literally meaning four corners) for a square or rectangular bottle.
Gin is sometimes combined with other ingredients to come up with variations. Some
have gin mixed with fruit juices like pineapple, pomelo, and guyabano
Tuba (toddy) is a type of hard liquor made from fresh drippings extracted from
a cut young stem of palm. The cutting of the palm stem usually done early in the
morning by a mananguete, a person whose profession involves climbing palm trees
and extracting the tuba to supply to customers later in the day. The morning
accumulated palm juice or drippings from a cut stem is then harvested by noon then
brought to buyers then prepared for consumption. Sometimes this is done twice a day
so that there are two harvests of tuba in a day occurring first at noon-time and later in
the late-afternoon. Normally, tuba has to be consumed right after the mananguete
brings it over or it becomes too sour to be consumed as a drink. Any remaining
unconsumed tuba is then often stored in jars for several days to become palm vinegar.
Tuba can be distilled to produce lambanog (arrack), a neutral liquor often noted for its
relatively high alcohol content.
Tapuy is a traditional Philippine alcoholic drink made from fermented
glutinous rice. It is a clear wine of luxurious alcoholic taste, moderate sweetness and
lingering finish. Its average alcohol content is 14% or 28 proof, and does not contain
any preservatives or sugar. To increase the awareness of tapuy, the Philippine Rice
Research Institute created a cookbook containing recipes and cocktails from famous
Philippine chefs and bartenders, featuring tapuy as one of the ingredients