Famous Delicacies In The Philippines – This post may contain contractual hyperlinks. If you make a reservation or purchase through these links, I may earn a commission
A sprawling group of islands, the Philippines is a Southeast Asian country that shares maritime borders with nations such as Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and mainland China.
Famous Delicacies In The Philippines
Growing up in Manila meant growing up with a lot of delicious Filipino food, which I’m so thankful for because it’s one of the best cuisines in Southeast Asia, but not many people know about it.
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When I moved to Canada in 2006, I longed for it, but I noticed that Filipino cuisine is not as popular compared to other Asian cuisines such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai.
Whenever I introduce Filipino food to friends in North America, they end up loving it and noticing its strong and unique flavor.
The most popular Filipino dish and referred to as the unofficial national dish of the Philippines, Adobo is usually chicken (although pork is another popular choice) simmered in vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, soy sauce and bay leaves.
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Although an authentic Filipino delicacy, Adobo got its name from the Spanish colonizer, which means “marinade” or “sauce.”
If you want to enjoy the dish in different ways, you can also try adobo-flavored noodles, nuts and crunchy snacks that are common in the Philippines.
Bicol Express is a spicy Filipino stew containing chunks of pork with chili, coconut milk, shrimp paste, tomatoes, onions and garlic.
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This spicy yet creamy pork stew is named after a train in the Bicol region of the Philippines known for its spicy food.
A famous beef dish from the Philippines, Bulalo is usually a light soup made by boiling the leg and bone marrow until the collagen and fat dissolve in the broth.
Aside from beef, this popular Filipino soup also contains leafy greens, corn, onion, garlic, scallions, ginger, scallions, and fish sauce.
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This traditional Filipino dish is made from a whole pork leg cooked with a mixture of spices (such as salt, bay leaf, peppercorns, and garlic) until tender.
This popular pulutan or main dish is served with pickled papaya and a sauce of vinegar, soy sauce and various spices.
The taste is amazing! It has a pleasant angle on the fat part, which enhances the taste of the dish even more, and the pork is aromatic with the marinade.
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This traditional Filipino dish is served with pilaka (sauce) or a spicy vinegar known as pinakurat.
You can also enjoy it as a main course with steamed white rice or (even better) garlic rice.
Caldereta is very similar to goulash made in the Iberian Peninsula and brought to the country by the Spanish.
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It consists of meat, often one or more of beef, tripe, beef, pork leg, beef, and sometimes goat.
This main dish is often served with shrimp paste on the side to enhance the flavor of the dish and balance the rich peanut sauce.
Laing is a Filipino recipe consisting of sliced or whole taro leaves steamed in thick coconut milk with labuyo chili, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, shallots and shrimp paste.
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This traditional Filipino dish originates from the Bicol region of the Philippines, where it is popularly known as pinangat.
Laing is also known as ginataang laing because it is a form of ginataan (Filipino dishes prepared in coconut milk).
This vegetable side dish is usually served with boiled white rice as an accompaniment to meat or fish, known as ulam in Filipino.
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I like to add a lot of fat to my white rice and then mix it all up to make the white rice so flavorful.
The Philippines’ most iconic dish, Lechon, often known as “grilled pork”, is a famous Filipino dish served during celebrations and special occasions such as birthdays and weddings.
One of the many Spanish inspirations for Filipino food, this traditional Filipino dish can be prepared in two ways: “Manila or Luzon lechon” and “Visayas or Cebu lechon”.
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However, Cebu lechon is usually stuffed with various spices such as tamarind, lemongrass, tamarind, onion, garlic and chives to name a few.
I personally prefer the skin on the Luzon lechon which is smooth and thin with a crispy crunch.
Leftover lechon is usually chopped up and used to make another Filipino dish called Lechon Paksiw, in which the leftovers are cooked in vinegar, liver sauce and spices.
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If you’re in Manila, Kamayan is one of my favorite restaurants in Manila for lechon and it’s all you can eat!
Lechon is not always easy to find or make because it requires a whole pig and an open fire.
Similar to Crispy Pat, the pork belly is first cooked with a bit of a spice mix, then air-dried with salt and then wok-fried until crispy as the skin turns to a crumbly texture.
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But another popular sauce for Lechon Kawali is pork liver sauce like Mang Tomas, which I personally prefer over soy vinegar sauce.
Perhaps the most traditional Filipino breakfast dish Longganisa (Longaniza) is the favorite sausage of Filipinos and my favorite Filipino breakfast.
There are local varieties in Longganisa, the most popular being Pampanga (sweeter) and Vigan (saltier).
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Considered the king of the Filipino breakfast, it is paired with garlic fried rice and a fried egg, called longsilog on the menu.
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One of the most popular Filipino appetizers, Lumpia (or Lumpiang Shanghai) is inspired by Chinese egg rolls and is basically a fried roll.
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This traditional Filipino snack or side dish is filled with a combination of chopped vegetables and ground meat, topped with just the right sauces to make the perfect lunch appetizer.
Fried Lumpia is a spring roll taken to the next level and is an important part of Filipino food culture.
Pancit Palabok is a popular variety specially made with shrimp sauce and topped with boiled shrimp, crushed chicharon, boiled pork, tinapa flakes, fried tofu, onions, smoked fish and friendly garlic.
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It is one of the most popular dishes during celebrations, especially birthdays, as pancit palabok is associated with long life and sound health.
Philippine fast food chain Jollibee is well known for its Palabok Fiesta, which you can get in party size for those special occasions.
Venture off the streets of the Philippines and you’re bound to find BBQ Pork, one of the most popular Filipino street foods.
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Popular for pulutan, this traditional Filipino dish is marinated skewered pork slices grilled over charcoal.
What makes it different from other BBQ pork is the marinade, as the Filipino version has a mix of sweet, salty and sometimes slightly spicy, while others tend to be just salty and/or spicy.
Aside from bulalo, Sinigang is one of the best Filipino dishes to try if you’re looking for something to warm you up during the monsoon season.
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This traditional Filipino dish is a meat or seafood based Filipino stew or soup where the sour broth is made with tamarind (sambalok) for a sour and salty taste.
Water spinach (kangkong), okra, radishes, taro, eggplant, and beans are commonly used in traditional Filipino sinigang.
In addition to tamarind, spices such as citrus fruits, gooseberry (called karmay in Ilocano) and others are used to increase acidity.
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Parts of the pig’s head, such as ears, cheeks, and rinds, are usually chopped, boiled, and then sautéed or grilled or fried before being dressed with chicken liver, calamansi, chili peppers, onions, salt, vinegar, and pepper.
Now it’s common to find chicken sisig (I love it at Casa Manila in Toronto), bangus sisig (for pescatarians), and tofu sisig (for vegetarians).
Sisig is popular as a pulutan beer dish because it is delicious along with the sizzle and crunch.
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If you are in the Philippines, I found Manam Cafe to be one of the best restaurants in Manila (if not the best!) for sisig.
Tapa is made from smoked or pickled beef, mutton, venison or horse meat, but it can also be made from other meat or even fish.
Unless otherwise noted, tapa usually refers to beef tapa in the Philippines. It’s like the Filipino version of “beef”.
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This traditional Filipino breakfast dish is made by cutting thin strips of beef and preserving them with salt and spices.
In Filipino restaurants, you’ll usually find it called Tapsilog, which is a combination of the Tagalog terms tapa (beef), sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (fried egg).
We hope this list of traditional Filipino dishes will help you decide what are the best Filipino dishes to eat when you visit the Philippines or at any Filipino restaurant in the world!
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Have a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter and share your thoughts! The food culture in the Philippines is sometimes overshadowed by its northwestern neighbors – Thailand and Vietnam. However, the Philippines easily holds its own on the global culinary scene and even came in second in a 2015 CNN poll that asked readers which country was their favorite foodie destination.
From the ubiquitous adobo to the cringe-worthy balut, Filipino cuisine is diverse and delicious (though not always particularly healthy). In fact, Anthony Bourdain claimed that the best pork he ate was in the Philippines.
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