Sunday, October 30, 2011

Binagoongang Baboy (Pork in Shrimp Paste)

Binagoongang Baboy is a traditional Filipino food recipe which is cooked with pork and shrimp paste. Bagoong alamang (salted shrimp paste)  is a condiment that is served as appetizer or side dish when served with dishes like kare kare (beef and vegetable stew with peanut sauce and oxtail) and pinakbet (mixed vegetables in shrimp paste.) It is also served as sawsawan or dipping for green mango and grilled or fried fried fish. Bagoong could be a viand (entree) itself if cooked with pork and this dish is called binagoongang baboy. Other variation of the dish is the binagoongang baboy sa gata (pork in shrimp paste and coconut milk.)  Bagoong alamang is made from minute shrimp or krill (alamang.)

Since I live in the USA now and I can't make my bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) from scratch, I used the ready-to-eat shrimp paste from the Asian store.  To make it less salty, I put the shrimp paste in a strainer and rinse it with hot water.  This removes the excess salt.  I provided the procedure for making your own bagoong alamang at home below the recipe for binagoongang baboy.


  • 1 pound pork liempo (pork belly)
  • 1 cup water (for boiling pork)
  • 1/4 cup shrimp bagoong
  • 4 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 small onion; chopped
  • 1 medium tomato; sliced in 8
  • 1 teaspoon Philippine bird's eye pepper (siling labuyo)
  • 3 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 eggplant; cut in slices (optional)
  • 8 pieces small okra, cut in half (optional)
  1. Boil pork in a pan until tender and until the all water has evaporated and meat starts to cook on its own fat. Cut into cubes. Set aside.
  2. Sauté garlic, onion, and tomato in a pan over medium heat. Add pork and shrimp bagoong. Stir fry for few minutes until pork starts to render fat and edges turn to brown.
  3. Add vinegar and chili peppers. Simmer for 5 minutes. Season with sugar and drop the eggplant and okra. Continue cooking in low fire until the vegetables are done.
  4. Serve hot over steamed rice. 
  • Enrich your binagoongang baboy by adding vegetables to it like okra and eggplant.
  • If you want to make it sweeter than saltier, increase the amount of sugar added to it.
  • If you want it creamier, you can add coconut milk after adding the pork and shrimp paste and simmer to develop the flavor.
  • If you want it more tangy, add more vinegar to it.
  • To give it a more diverse flavor, add ginger and drop a bayleaf or two towards the end of cooking.
Here's how to make your home-made shrimp paste:

  1. In a bowl wash alamang  (minute shrimp or krill) and drain using strainer. Shake the strainer to remove the water.
  2. Add 3-4 tablespoons of salt for every kilo of alamang then mix using ladle then pour it in clean bottle, cover air tight and put under the sun for 4-6 days or until the shrimp ferments.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Maja Blanca (Coconut Pudding)

Maja Blanca is a Filipino dessert made from coconut milk, cornstarch, and sugar. This luscious dish is also called Coconut Pudding.  The original Maja Blanca does not include corn, coconut meat and milk. In this recipe, I added whole sweet kernel corn, young coconut meat and milk just like how my mom preapares her maja blanca. 

Growing up as a kid in my maternal grandparents' house, I have had a lot of maja blanca during Christmas, fiesta and even on ordinary days when my grandma's cravings for sweet and native delicacies attack.  I admit, just like my mom and my grandma, I have a sweet tooth.  My maja blanca does not come topped with toasted mature coconut meat because I don't eat it. Latik is another topping used when serving maja blanca.  Latik refers to the coconut milk residue left when coconut milk is cooked until it turns to oil. 

  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 15 ounces whole sweet kernel corn (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated young coconut meat / buko (optional)
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup fresh milk or water
  • 5 tbsp toasted grated mature coconut meat or latik (if available)

  1. Heat the coconut milk in a pot and bring to a boil.  Add the sugar, whole sweet kernel corn and young coconut meat then stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.  Simmer for 8 minutes.
  2. Combine the fresh milk / water and cornstarch then whisk until the cornstarch is diluted.  Slowly pour the mixture in the cooking pot and stir thoroughly. Allow to cook while stirring until the mixture reaches desired thickness. (about 3-5 minutes)
  3. Pour the mixture in a greased serving tray then arrange and flatten the top using greased spatula.  Allow to cool at room temperature.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  4. Garnish with toasted grated coconut (or latik if available.)  Serve chilled.

Here's how to make toasted grated mature coconut meat:
  1. Squeeze the coconut milk from the coconut meat. 
  2. Heat pan and pour in the grated mature coconut meat over medium heat. 
  3. Stir the coconut meat until most of the liquid evaporate. Continue stirring until it becomes toasted.  The color should become light brown and the texture crisp.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Achara / Atsara (Pickled Green Papaya)

Achara, or atsara, is a condiment made from pickled unripe papaya. This dish is often served as a side dish for fried or grilled fish or meat.  There are many versions of achara.  Aside from green papaya, other vegetables like white radish (labanos), onion, cucumber and bamboo shoots are also made as achara.  Carrots, ginger, onions and bell peppers are added to the papaya to make achara. The pickling solution, which is a mixture of vinegar, sugar and salt preserves the papaya and the vegetables. In air-tight and sterilized jars, achara will keep even without refrigeration. After the jar has been opened, it is best to refrigerate achara between uses.

The recipe for achara that I will be sharing today is from my mom who learned making the side dish from my grandma.  My mom and my grandma are achara lovers.  I remember my grandma making dozens of jars of achara when I was a kid and giving it to people when they came to visit. 
Yesterday, I was craving for something tangy to go with the fried flounder for dinner,  so I prepared achara.  Usually, you have to let it sit for a week before using it.  Nonetheless, my husband and I enjoyed the fried flounder with it along with stir fried veggies composed of cabbage, sweet potatoes, green beans and carrots - another vegetable side dish I learned from my mom. The recipe for that will follow.

  • 4 cups grated fresh green papaya
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into long strips
  • 1 (2 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 2 green chili peppers, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup white vinegar 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Toss the grated papaya with 1/4 cup salt in a large bowl; allow to sit for 1 hour. Drain the liquid from the papaya and rinse thoroughly. Place the papaya in the middle of a large piece of cheesecloth and squeeze to drain as much liquid from the papaya as possible.
  2. Stir the vinegar, water, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan; bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Add the papaya and all the vegetables to the solution.  Stir and simmer for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour the achara into sterilized jars, making sure the vegetables are completely submerged in liquid.
  4. Allow the vegetables to marinate in the liquid at least 1 day before using.  For a stronger taste, one week is suggested.
  5. Store in refrigerator between uses.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Filipinos and Their Food

Photo credit to Dungug Kinaray-A.
In the Philippines there are five meals in a day:  almusal (breakfast), segundo almuerzo (second breakfast or morning snack), pananghalian (lunch), merienda (afternoon snack), and hapunan (dinner.) A traditional breakfast usually includes pandesal (salt bread), kesong puti (white cheese), champorado (chocolate rice porridge), sinangag (garlic fried rice), and meat—such as tapa (jerky), longganisa (sweet sausage), tocino (cured meat)karne norte (corned beef), or fish such as tinapa (smoked fish), tuyo (dried fish) or daing na bangus (salted and dried milkfish)—or itlog na pula (salted egg.) Morning and afternoon snacks usually include kakanin like puto (steamed rice cake) or pansit (noodle dish.)  A full lunch and dinner typically includes an appetizer or soup, main course and dessert.  Rice is almost always present in every meal. Regular mealtimes are strictly observed in the Philippines.  Filipinos do not let their food "sit on the table" for a long time.   
During a meal, food is not served in courses.  Filipinos prefer to have the complete meal laid out before them so that they can eat the entrees simultaneously from soup, vegetables and meat.  Condiments, flavorings, and dipping sauces are normally present on the table so diners can season their own food at their own discretion. Food is eaten with a fork in one hand and a spoon in the other, knives are seldom used. Until now, certain families (usually the ones in rural areas) still eat with their hands.

Filipinos love to eat and food is considered to be the basis of social life. The people are naturally hospitable and gregarious.  Whenever you visit a friend or family in the Philippines, be prepared to eat because aside from gestures, the Filipino hospitality is mainly shown through their food.
It is mandatory for families who are eating to invite a person who is passing by to "come and eat."  The polite response is to say you've already eaten.  But during fiesta and other special occasions like weddings and birthdays where there's an abundance of food, participation is highly welcomed. Culturally speaking, it is impolite to jump at the first invitation.  A polite excuse is to point out how inconvenient it would be for the host then wait to see if you're pressed further.  It's another aspect of Filipino culture of politeness and sincerity... it's a way to enable the visitor to gauge whether an invitation is genuine or not. 

Guests are usually offered to eat. It is polite to wait to be urged to sit at the table or begin eating. If you don't like the food, eat a little and make an excuse rather than reject it outright.  After eating, it is good to leave a little food on the plate to indicate that you are satisfied.

Meat is usually expensive in the Philippines.  Poor families usually have rice, fish and vegetables for their meals and go heavy on starch for their snack.  Regardless of the economic status, all Filipino families try to splurge during special celebrations such as fiestas, Christmas, New Year, weddings and birthdays.  Multiple dishes are elaborately prepared during these special occasions.  Lechon (whole pig roasted on a fire pit) is usually present along with other special rice and noodle dishes and kakanin (sweet delicacies.)
I grew up with my maternal grandparents and I remember them inviting neighbors and even tradesmen to the dining table. Oh, there was never a shortage of food at that house! It might be from them that I built the idea in my head as a child and grown-up that food and eating are both enjoyable experience when shared with other people. I love eating good food and personally, I don't enjoy eating alone. It's always nice to eat with families and friends! 

Aranas, J.M., Briggs, B., & Lande, M. (2006).  The Filipino-American Kitchen:  Traditional Recipes, Contemporary Flavors.
Bartell, Karen H. (2009). Fine Filipino Food.
Alejandro, Reynaldo G. (1985).  The Philippine Cookbook.

Toasted Latik (Toasted Coconut Curd)

Latík refers to two different ingredients in the Philippine cuisine. In the north it refers to toasted or roasted latik -- solid coconut curds left when coconut milk is cooked until it turns to oil. It is used as garnishing for a variety of desserts like biko, suman, kalamay, maja blanca and many more.  In the Visayas (Central Philippines) it refers to coconut caramel, a thick syrupy caramelized coconut cream  used as a dessert condiment.

Latik is characterized by its sweet nutty aroma and its soft oily texture perfect for garnishing desserts in the Philippines that are mainly rice or glutinous rice-based.

Toasted Latik

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 1/2 cup


2 (24 oz.) cans coconut milk 
or 4 cups kakang gata (pure coconut milk extracted from grated meat of a mature coconut)


  1. Heat saucepan and pour in the coconut milk. 
  2. Bring the coconut milk to a boil.
  3. Stir the coconut milk until most of the liquid evaporate. This will take about 12 to 15 minutes per cup of coconut milk.
  4. When the texture turns gelatinous, lower the heat and continue stirring. Oil should be separating from the milk at this stage.
  5. Continue stitrring until brownish residues are formed. 
  6. Turn off the heat. Separate the toasted curds from the oil by using a strainer. Save the oil. Place the latik in a separate container.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kinilaw (Raw Fish Salad / Filipino Ceviche)

Kinilaw or kilawin or raw fish salad is an appetizer dish.  Most of the time, it is usually served with beer as "pulutan." The fish is not cooked on fire but the acetic acid in vinegar and citric acid from lime or lemon slowly the fish meat when soaked for a few hours.  The traditional kinilaw is fish meat marinated in vinegar with ginger, onion, black pepper and chili peppers. 

My husband was the only person who was able to make me eat kinilaw.  I remember the first time I tried it when we had lunch at John's Fish House in Zamboanga City in 2008.  I didn't realize what I was missing until I tried kinilaw.  It was so deliciously tangy and refreshing.  Its spicy and acidic taste heightens your appetite making you eat more!

My kinilaw recipe is both inspired by John Fish House's kinilaw and my husband's love for veggies.  I'd say it is a cross between the authentic Filipino Kinilaw and the Mexican Ceviche. 


  • 1 lb tuna; skinned, deboned, and cubed
  • 1/2 lb cooked shrimp, sliced
  • 3/4 cup vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup green bell peppers, diced
  • 1 piece cucumber, peeled and diced (optional)
  • 1 piece medium carrot, julienne (optional)
  • 1 piece green mango, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lime or calamansi juice
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red chilies, chopped

  1. Place the cubed tuna meat in a large bowl then pour-in half the amount of vinegar.
  2. Let stand for 2 minutes then gently squeeze the tuna by applying a little pressure.
  3. Gently wash the tuna meat with vinegar. Drain all the vinegar once done.
  4. Add the remaining amount of vinegar,and the rest of the ingredients then mix well.
  5. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  6. Garnish with a slice of lemon or lime. Serve chilled.


  • Add shrimp to give your kinilaw more texture and flavor
  • Anchovies can also be used in place of tuna
  • Enrich your kinilaw by adding other vegetables such as bell pepper, cucumber, and carrots.
  • Give your kinilaw a fruity kick by adding green mangoes.
  • To make your kinilaw more spicy, double the amount of ginger.

Tinolang Manok (Chicken in Ginger Broth)

Traditional Tinolang Manok
Tinola is a ginger-based soup dish served as an appetizer or main course.  Traditionally, it is cooked with chicken, wedges of green papaya and chili pepper leaves or Bird's eye chili pepper leaves in broth flavored with ginger, onion and fish sauce. Chicken, pork, fish and shellfish such as mussels and clams are commonly prepared using tinola as the cooking method. Other substitutes for the ingredients are chayote, potato, cabbage and moringa or malunggay leaves. The dish was invented in the late 19th century. It was also referenced in José Rizal's first novel, Noli Me Tangere.

I consider chicken tinola as a comfort food.  Even as a grown-up, I remember my mom cooking tinola for me when I'm not feeling well.  Last week, my husband and I got some green papaya from an Asian store in Orlando and so I cooked my beloved Chicken Tinola. 

Ingredients :
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into serving pieces (or any choice cuts: thighs, drumsticks, wings)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • salt to taste
  • 4-5 cups water (substitute: rice water from second rinse) 
  • 1 medium-sized green papaya, cut into 1-inch thickwedges (substitutes: chayote, potatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
  • 1 cup chili leaves (substitutes: spinach, malunggay leaves, cabbage)
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté ginger until fragrant. Add onions, stir-fry until softened and translucent.
  2. Add chicken cuts. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until chicken colors slightly. Season with fish sauce and salt.
  3. Pour in water (or rice water, if using). Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until chicken is half-done. Add in papaya (or chayote or potatoes, if using). Continue simmering until chicken and vegetable are tender. Add peppercorns.  Season to taste. Add chili leaves (or malunggay or substitute.) Stir and remove from heat.
  4. Let stand for a few minutes to let the green vegetables cook. Serve hot.

  • Enrich your tinola by adding potatoes, chayote, green beans, carrots and cabbage to the basic vegetables used. My husband loves it when it is packed with vegetables.
  • If chili leaves are not available, use spinach leaves or moringa or malunggay leaves.

My enriched chicken tinola

Thursday, October 13, 2011

About Filipino Food Aficionado


Welcome to Filipino Food Aficionado!  This blogsite aims to promote Philippine cuisine all over the world. It's not only intended for Filipinos but also for all Filipino food lovers on the worldwide web. It introduces its audience to the myriad of cooking methods and exotic fare that compose this unique cuisine. It also contains everything one needs to know about the Philippine cuisine -from its history and influences, its characteristics, the cooking styles and techniques, to the ingredients used in Filipino dishes. It will also feature traditional and regional recipes from all over the Philippines.

Filipino Food Aficionado (FFA) is not just a recipe blog. It dwells more on the gastronomic culture of the Philippines. Notes are usually included at the bottom of each recipe so please take time in reading it as it may address the questions you have in mind. This blog is a work in progress and the recipes that I write depends on what I am currently working on in my kitchen. Some recipes will contain more vegetables in an effort to enrich some of the traditional Filipino dishes. 

Right now I am focusing on regional specialties and inserting some occasional menu suggestions and recipes from time to time.

I believe that cooking is one thing, but having a full grasp of the what's,  why's and how-to's of a particular dish is another thing. It gives you a better understanding and appreciation of different cuisines and culture. -And that is the very reason why this blog,  Filipino Food Aficionado was created.

On the right hand side panel you'll find the link to the list of recipes that Filipino Food Aficionado have tested and standardized. I hope you will find my blog both informative and helpful.   If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to post a comment or e-mail me at:

Join our Facebook Community and follow us on Filipino Food Aficionado Facebook Page.

Enjoy reading and have fun cooking and eating!  Maraming salamat, mga kababayan!

King Crab Clusters in Alavar Sauce

The Filipino diet is rich in seafood to include shellfish and crustaceans.  Crustaceans are commonly cooked with coconut milk.  Most of the time, they are just steamed in their own juice or with beer or carbonated drink. 

One of my favorite seafood dishes is the Crabs in Alavar Sauce. Zamboanga City, where I worked and lived for five years is famous for its dish called Curacha con Alavar Sauce.  Curacha is a deep-sea crustacean found in the waters of Zamboanga, a peninsula in Southern Philippines, where amazing seafood abound. It is likened to a cross between a crab and a lobster with its bright reddish color be it cooked or raw. It is similar to the spanner crabs and red frog crabs found in the west coast of Australia.  Alavar Sauce is another culinary highlight of Zamboanga.  It is a delicious secret blend of coconut milk and spices served and sold in Alavar Seafood Restaurant

I remember my first curacha con alavar in 2000 when I first visited Zamboanga City during my semestral break from college. The dish is so mouth-watering.  Trained to be able to dissect the ingredients of a dish, just from tasting it, I tried to write the recipe for alavar sauce that year, not knowing that five years later, a colleague at Universidad de Zamboanga who has a friend who works at Alavar Restaurant will help me refine the recipe.

In this recipe, I won't be using curacha but rather king crab clusters.

  • 2 clusters king crab legs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup ginger, crushed
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon annatto seeds (diluted in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to extract the pigment)
  • 2 large red chilies, chopped
  • 1/4 cup crab roe paste
  • 250 ml coconut milk (for making latik - coconut milk residue left when coconut milk is cooked until it turns to oil)
  • 250 ml coconut milk (for the sauce)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Saute garlic, onions and ginger until the onion becomes translucent and soft, around 10 minutes. 
  2. Add the turmeric, paprika, curry powder, oil from the annatto-oil mixture and fresh chilies.  Add the latik, crab roe paste and coconut milk.  Season to taste.  Bring to a rapid boil.  Lower heat and simmer for five minutes.
  3. Puree the sauce.  (optional)
  4. Put the pureed sauce back to the pan.  Add the king crab clusters and cook for around 10 minutes until the crab meat is cooked through.
Serving Suggestions:

-  Serve over steamed rice.
-  Serve over a bed of steamed bamboo shoots and spinach.


- Cook this dish with other vegetables such as bell peppers, carrots, spinach and bamboo shoots.  My husband loves the veggies in this dish!
- Add some shrimp if in case you can't get enough of the crab meat!

Here's how to make latik:

1. Heat saucepan and pour in the coconut milk. 
2. Bring the coconut milk to a boil.
3. Stir the coconut milk until most of the liquid evaporate. This will take about 12 to 15 minutes per cup of coconut milk.
4. When the texture turns gelatinous, lower the heat and continue stirring. Oil should be separating from the milk at this stage.
5. Continue stirring until brownish residues are formed. Turn off the heat and place the latik in a container.

Lumpiang Sariwa (Fresh Spring Roll)

Lumpiang Sariwa or Fresh Spring Roll is a vegetable dish composed of different vegetables wrapped in flour crepe or lumpia wrapper garnished with sweet sauce and fresh garlic and crushed peanuts. Other variations of this dish are lumpiang ubod (made with heart of palm) and lumpiang hubad (Unwrapped lumpiang sariwa).

This recipe is inspired by my mom's lumpiang hubad. 

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 4 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 tablespoon onion; minced
  • 1/4 cup shrimp; chopped
  • 1tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups carrots; shredded
  • 2 cups sweet potato; sliced thinly
  • 2 cups cabbage; shredded
  • 1 cup turnips, sliced thinly or 1 8-oz can water chestnuts, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup green beans; sliced diagonally
  • 1 cup bamboo shoots, shredded
  • 1 cup ground peanuts
  • Salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté garlic and onion. Add shrimp. Simmer until it changes color. Add soy sauce and sugar.
  2. Add vegetables and continue cooking until it is done. Add salt according to taste.
  3. Add peanuts. Simmer for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Lumpiang Sariwa Sauce

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  1. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a saucepan except the garlic.
  2. Boil in a very low fire, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. Add the garlic. Set aside.
Lumpia Wrapper
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 pieces eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups water
  • dash of salt
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  1. Mix all the wrapper ingredients and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Grease the pan with oil and cook only one side of the crepe over low heat about 2-3 minutes.
To make the roll:
  1. Put 3 tablespoons of filling in lumpia wrapper. Roll wrapper.
  2. Serve with sauce and finely chopped peanuts.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Lechon Paksiw (Pork Roast stewed in Vinegar and Sugar)

Lechon is usually a whole pig roasted over live coals.  Piglets (lechonillo,) suckling pig (lechon de leche) or cattle calves (lechong baka) can also be prepared in place to the adult pig. It is typically served with lechon sauce - a mixture of pork liver, water, vinegar, sugar, bread crumbs and spices.  Lechon can be considered as the national fiesta food in the Philippines.

Paksiw is the generic name for stews made with vinegar.  Lechon Paksiw is a Filipino pork dish made from leftover roast pig or lechon.  Lechon kawali (chopped pieces of pork fried in a pan or wok) can also be used if lechon is not available.

In the Philippines, the most popular way of serving leftover lechon is to serve it as stew.  The meat is slow-cooked in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, peppercorns, bay leaves, sugar, salt and lechon sauce or liver sauce.  One can use home-made lechon sauce, commercial or bottled lechon sauce or liver spread diluted in broth. 

Personally, I prefer lechon paksiw over lechon because the flavors are more pronounced after the lechon has been stewed in vinegar.  It is actually one of my favorite Filipino dishes.  I learned cooking lechon paksiw from my paternal grandparents who are natives of Samar in Central Philippines.    They cook their lechon paksiw the traditional way.  They just mix all the ingredients together, bring to a boil, simmer and presto!  Lechon paksiw is ready to serve.  I got the habit of adding pineapple chunks to my lechon paksiw from my mom who learned doing so from her father who is a native of Laguna in Northern Philippines.

My husband and I recently bought some lechon from an Asian store in Orlando. He wanted it in his broccoli slaw and spinach salad for lunch. Actually, the salad tasted good with bits of lechon in it.  We had leftover lechon and so I made lechon paksiw.  I prefer my lechon paksiw with its sauce reduced.  I actually got the habit of doing so from my dad who almost always reduces every sauce that he makes.  At the same time, I want my lechon paksiw to be fruity so I add pineapple chunks to it.  So, here's my recipe:

  • 1 pound lechon (with skin), sliced 1-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (for marinating)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed  (for marinating)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed  (for sauteing)
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (for stewing)
  • 1 cup lemon lime soda (or water)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorn
  • 4 pieces bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel (or 2 pieces of star anise)
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lechon sauce (or liver sauce)
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (optional)
  • salt to taste
  1. Mix vinegar and garlic in a non-reactive bowl.  Do not use aluminum.  Marinate the lechon in the mixture for 30 minutes.
  2. In a pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Saute garlic and onion.  Add the lechon with the marinade.  Add vinegar, water or lime soda, soy sauce and spices.  Simmer for 10 minutes without stirring.
  3. Stir in sugar, lechon sauce and pineapple chunks (optional.)  Season with salt. Cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved.
Here's a recipe for making lechon sauce from scratch:

Lechon Sauce

  • 1/2 kg pork liver
  • 2 cups water or more
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup onions, minced
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup  bread crumbs (toasted and crumbled)
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup  brown sugar
  •  1 tsp ground black pepper
  •  salt to taste
  1. Broil the pork liver until half done.  Ground using a food processor. Add water and squeeze the extract through a cheesecloth. 
  2. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Saute garlic, onions until golden brown.  Add the liver extract. Add powdered crumbs, vinegar, sugar and salt. 
  3. Simmer until thick.  Make sure the liver is thoroughly cooked. Add the ground pepper last.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Adobo (Chicken Stewed in Vinegar, Garlic and Soy Sauce)

Pinoy Adobo
Adobo, arguably the best-known Filipino dish, is a by-product of both Chinese and Spanish influence. In Spanish cuisine, adobo refers to a pickling sauce made from olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, paprika, thyme, bay leaf and salt.  The Filipinos embraced their favorite flavors (vinegar, garlic and bay leaf), included peppercorns and nodding to the Chinese influence, added soy sauce.  They adapted it to be a stewing sauce for chicken and pork, but maintained its Spanish moniker - an affirmation of the unique Filipino palate.

Adobo traditionally consists of chicken and / or pork chunks simmered in soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, garlic and whole peppercorns until the meats are tender.  As a cooking method, adobo can be used for fowl, meat, shellfish or vegetables.

Famous for its piquant flavor, adobo is a famous ulam or viand (dish eaten with rice) also because of its longetivity and resilience to spoilage.  The secret ingredient is the vinegar.  When the vinegar has reached its boiling point, lower the heat and allow it to simmer.  Remember not to stir while simmering because it will bring the raw vinegar taste.

I have had adobo since I was a child.  I remember my dad's spicy chicken adobo.  He simmers the adobo until it is dry (until the sauce is past its thick consistency.)  He is a native from Northern Samar in Central Philippines and calls the process pinaitos.  On the other hand, my mom who is a native from Rizal Province in Northern Philippines adds a dash of brown sugar to her adobo.  Not only in our house in Bulacan and Zamboanga have I had adobo.  I have had it in birthday parties, fiesta, Christmas and New Year.  I say almost all households in the Philippines cook adobo.

Now that I am married to an American, I have started cooking adobo with more vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onion, and sweet peppers.  Yes, that doesn't sound like the adobo that my parents used to make, but that's just how my husband who is a health buff, likes it.

For my first recipe on the web, I will feature the ever famous, Filipino Chicken Adobo recipe:

  • 3 chicken legs (drumstick) and 3 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup white cane vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 6 cloves garlic, slightly mashed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 bay  leaves
  • 2- 3 twists of freshly cracked black pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot.  Marinate for 30 minutes. 
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the meat is tender.  Add water if necessary.  
  3. When chicken is tender, remove from the pot and set aside. Keep simmering sauce until reduced to your desired consistency.
  4. Meanwhile, heat a skillet with oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, saute half of the garlic until golden brown.  Add the chicken and fry to brown.
  5. Add the chicken back to the pot.  Toss gently and remove from heat.
  6. Serve over steamed white rice.
  • Some like their adobo sauce reduced, so don't add more water while it is simmering.
  • Some like their adobo spicy so add some crushed ginger and chili peppers to the mix.
  • Some like their adobo saucy and sweet, so feel free to put a dash of sugar before simmering it.  
  • Pop one star anise into the pot to give it an anhanced aroma and flavor.
  • Add a peeled hardboiled egg towards the end of cooking.
  • Add spring onions or shallots to the mix.
  • Add pineapple chunks to your adobo to give it a fresh fruity kick.
  • Enrich it with vegetables like potatoes, carrots and sweet peppers...  My husband loves it!

    My enriched adobo :)

Philippine Regional Specialties

Filipino dishes are known to be delicious, savory and mouth-watering. There are many choices of Filipino dishes from all over the Philippine archipelago. Each region or province has its unique varieties of foods.

Northern Philippines

In Ilocos region, most of their specialties are seasoned with fermented anchovies. Ilocos is famous for its Pinakbet- a mixture of several vegetables such as squash, okra, eggplant, bitter gourd and string beans cooked with bagoong or fermented fish paste. Another authentic Ilocano dish is Dinengdeng- horseradish leaves boiled in watery soup, seasoned with bagoong and topped with grilled fish.

Pampanga and Bulacan are highly recognized for its sweetened delicacies and well prepared courses. In Pampanga, specialties include fermented crabs, fermented rice sauce, fermented frogs, milkfish in sour soup, fried mole crickets and sweetened cured pork slices known as tocino- a breakfast dish. Naturally rich in rice and sugar, Pampanga region sweetens most of its dishes particularly desserts. Its incredibly tasty turrones, marzipans and meringues are some Spanish-style creams puffs or egg yolk custards. A traditional dish called Tibok-tibok which is made out of water buffalo milk blended with corn is not far from the race. Enseymada, a buttery rolled ban ; bringhe, special rice prepared with coconut milk ; leche flan, a crème brulee cooked with water buffalo milk ; and a wide selection of rice cakes are Pampangeno dishes that made up the country’s delicious delicacies.

Bulacan created its traditional cuisine mostly from their wide agricultural lands and big rivers. Bulakeno cooking is leisurely, prepared the old-fashioned way. River fish are boiled with citrus or in palm wine, then flamed. Mudfish are fermented or packed in banana stalks and buried in live coals. They prepare seafood like shellfish, sauteed with guava and flavored with ginger broth. Considering animal-raising as their main industry, Bulakenos specialize on meat dishes. In Bulacan, they prepare chicken by having it sit in a clay pot lined with salt and cook it as is. They even claim their version of relleno and galantina (stuffed chicken rolls) ; asado or pot roast ; and estofado, pork leg ; and kare-kare, stewed beef in peanut sauce better than other regions.

The Igorots prefer roasted meats, particularly carabao meat, goat meat, and venison.

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 rice cake.

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 Philippines

In the Bicol region, most of their dishes are cooked with coconut milk and chilies. Bicol is famous for its Laing or Pinangat - a delicious native dish prepared in bundles of taro leaves, filled with shredded taro leaves, bits of meat or shrimp, lots of chillies, ginger, garlic and onion ; then cooked steadily in coconut cream. Bicol Express is also one of the famous Bicol’s specialty dishes.
It is a mixture of pork meat and shrimp paste sautéed in tomatoes and onions and lots of green chili strips simmered in coconut cream. Another specialty is the Kinunot - an unusual dish prepared with stingray meat and horseradish simmered in coconut cream and green chillies along with some slices of onion and garlic.

The Visayas is a gathering of big and small islands in the middle part of the archipelago where cuisine and delicacies vary according to their ancestral influences. Kinilaw is a common dish every Visayan prepare during a good catch. It refers to the marinating of freshest fish or shellfish in vinegar or any souring ingredients for eating raw.

The delicious Chinese noodle soup called Pancit molo of Iloilo are dumplings filled with minced chicken, pork and prawn cooked in a tasty soup that turns out a common dish in most Filipino restaurants. Another dish Iloilo contributed to the lush cuisine of the country is the mouth-watering lumpiang ubod- heart of palm in fresh crepes, slightly mixed with shrimp and strips of pork meat. Iloilo is also known for its famous La Paz batchoy, dinuguan, puto, biscocho and piyaya.

In Bacolod, a dish called Binakol is a specialty. It is chicken soup based not from chicken stock but on juice from young coconut. Bacolod also has Inasal or barbequed chicken marinated in kalamansi, a local citrus and atsuete or annatto, reddish seed used for food coloring.

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 Philippines

In Mindanao, most cuisines are influenced by the exotic taste bud of the Malays. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, chillies, lemon grass roasted coconut are present in most of their dishes. Being free from Hispanization, 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 Thai cuisines.
Well-known dishes from the region include Satti (satay) and ginataang manok (chicken cooked in spiced coconut milk). Since this region is predominantly Muslim, pork is rarely if ever consumed.

Rendang, a spicy 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).

Zamboanga’s cusido or commonly called pochero is a traditional Sunday platter served similarly to that of Spanish cusido, with sausages, pork ribs, salted pork, sweet potatoes corn and cooking banana or locally called saba. It is a famous dish that made Zamboanga cuisine a delightful blend of east and west.

Barreto, Glenda R. (2007). Flavors of the Philippines – A Culinary Guide to the Best of the Islands.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Philippine Cuisine Cooking Methods

The Filipino/Tagalog words for popular cooking methods and terms are listed below:

"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 bagoong.
"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.  It refers to the process of salting and fermenting seafood such as small crabs, milkfish, catfish, mudfish, eggs or vegetables.
"Daing/Dinaing/Padaing" − marinated with garlic, vinegar, and black peppers. Sometimes dried and usually fried or grilled before eating.
"Guinataan/sa Gata" − cooked with coconut milk.
"Guisa/Guisado/Ginisa" or "Gisado" − sautéed with garlic, onions and/or tomatoes.
"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 onions, ginger, and hot 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), kalabasa, talong (eggplant), ampalaya (bitter melon), and okra among others and bagoong.
"Paksiw/Pinaksiw" − cooked in vinegar.
"Pangat/Pinangat" − boiled in salted water with fruit such as tomatoes or ripe mangoes.
"Palaman/Pinalaman" − "filled" as in siopao, though "palaman" also refers to the filling in a sandwich.
"Pasingaw" - steamed.
"Pesa" - boiled sauteed fish with ginger, vegetables and fish sauce.
"Pinakuluan" – boiled.
"Pinais" - steamed food wrapped in banana or alagao leaves.
"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 calamondin.
"Sinuam" - boiled sauteed fish or shellfish with ginger and chili pepper leaves.
"Tosta/Tinosta/Tostado" – toasted.
"Torta/Tinorta/Patorta" – to cook with eggs in the manner of an omelette.

Philippine Cuisine Common Ingredients

The Philippine cuisine has a broad base.  The Philippines has a great location where it is based with abundant natural food sources: seafood, fruits, vegetables and wild game.  The sea is the principal source of food.  Hence, the Filipino diet is based on fish, crustaceans, and other seafood.  Milkfish, tilapia, catfish, grouper (lapu-lapu,) mackerel (galunggong,) swordfish, game fish, sablefish, tuna, cod, blue marlin and squid are common ingredients in Filipino dishes.  Popular shellfish include oysters (talaba,) mussels (tahong,) clams (halaan and tulya,) large and small crabs (alimango and alimasag respectively,) prawns (sugpo,) and shrimp.  Dried and smoked fish are also popular.  Also popular are seaweeds, abalone, and eel.

The most common way of having fish is to have it salted, pan-fried or deep-fried, 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).

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 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.
Coconut is also one of the popular ingredients in the Philippines.  Buko, the tender flesh of the young coconut is usually used for preparing desserts and candies, added to salad or boiled like noodles.  The more mature coconut flesh is the one that is grated and pressed to yield gata, coconut cream and milk, which is used in a number of dishes.  Food products from coconut include coconut oil, macapuno (preserved shredded coconut,) nata de coco (coconut gel,) and ubod (heart of the coconut palm,)

Many Filipino cakes and delicacies use cassava flour or sweet rice flour.  Sago or tapioca pearls and agar-agar (gelatin extracted from seaweed) are common ingredients for making desserts.

Noodles are also popular such as bihon (rice vermicelli,) canton (Chinese wheat noodles,) mami (Chinese egg noodle,) miki (flat egg noodle), lomi (thick egg noodle,) sotanghon (transparent bean or cellophane noodle), misua (angel hair rice noodle) and udon (wide Japanese noodle)

A variety of fruits and vegetables are often used in cooking. Tropical fruits such as jackfruit, guava, star fruit, star apple, sweetsop, chico, bananas (the saba variety in particular), Calamondin (kalamansi,) mangoes, papaya, pomelo, 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,)  jute leaves (saluyot,) and other vegetables like eggplants (talong) winter melon (upo), okra, lima beans, bitter melon, squash, and yard-long beans (sitaw,) are commonly used. 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.  Ginger is also a common spice 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. The first meat in the Philippines was wild game: deer and wild boar.  Later domesticated animals, such as the carabao (water buffalo), chicken, pig and goat made their way into the Filipino diet.  Pork is popular in the Philippines while beef is the primary source of protein in Mindanao, where the Islamic influence reduce the consumption of pork.
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 isda,) shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) and crushed ginger root (luya) are condiments that are often added to dishes during the cooking process or when served.

Distinct Characteristics of Philippine Cuisine

Philippine cuisine is distinguished by its bold combination of sweet, sour, and salty 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 single presentation.

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 danggit 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 town fiestas.  When serving meals, Filipino custom calls for placing all the dishes on the table at the same time, with diners deciding their own combination and sequence.


Fernandez, Doreen."What is Filipino Food." 2009.

Philippine Cuisine: Its Origins and Influences

The cooking style, methods and ingredients associated with Philippine cuisine have evolved from its Malayo-Polynesian origins. The Philippines is at a crossroads of shipping lanes.  As a result, many cultures have influenced its cuisine. It can be considered as a melting pot of mixed cuisines with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences adapted to indigenous ingredients and the local palate.

During the pre-Hispanic era in the Philippines foods were prepared mainly by boiling, steaming, or roasting. The foods ranged from the usual livestock such as cow, water buffalo, pig and chicken to various kinds of fish and seafood. Filipinos have been cultivating rice since 3200 BC when Austronesian ancestors from the southern China Yunnan Plateau and Taiwan settled in what is now the Philippines.

Trade with Hokkien China in the Philippines prospered prior to 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 foods into Philippine cuisine, most notably soy sauce, tofu, beans sprouts, pickled mustard greens, white radish, bamboo shoots, chinese celery, water chestnuts, lemongrass and fish sauce. Common cooking methods were also introduced such as stir frying, deep frying and making savory soup bases. Many of these food items and dishes retained their original Hokkien names, such as pancit and lumpia. Filipinos incorporated the new Chinese cooking methods but added their own indigenous ingredients.  As a result, pancit is not complete without a twist of calamansi and lumpia is served with a dipping sauce of vinegar and crushed garlic.

Malaysian spice traders brought seasonings from the Spice Islands and introduced satay.

Spanish colonization from 1521 to 1898 brought with it a new cuisine. Food historians claim that 80% of Filipino dishes are of Spanish origin. Along with the Spanish influence came Mexican flavors.  The Spanish introduced dishes from the Iberian Peninsula, as well as North, Central and South America: olive oil, wine, European seasonings, peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and the method of sautéing with garlic, onions and tomatoes.  Even today, many Filipino dishes are based on garlic, onion and tomatoes, remnants of a Spanish influence. 

Spanish (and Mexican) dishes were eventually incorporated into Philippine cuisine with the more complex dishes usually being prepared for special occasions. Since Spanish food emphasized meat and dairy products, which were considered luxury items, Spanish fare was considered upper class, fiesta cuisine, while Chinese food was considered everyday cuisine. Many Spanish-derived dishes show up on the table only at Christmas, New Year or fiesta like relleno, mechado, pochero, leche flan. 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.

The marriage of Chinese and Spanish cuisines became eminent during the rise of the panciterias in the 19th century. Pansit, congee or arroz caldo, fried rice, lumpia longganisa and chopsuey became staples of these panciterias.  Adobo is also a by-product of both Spanish and Chinese influence.  In Spanish cuisine, adobo refers to a pickling sauce made from olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, paprika, thyme, bay leaf and salt.  The Filipinos embraced their favorite flavors (vinegar, garlic and bay leaf), included peppercorns and nodding to the Chinese influence, added soy sauce.  They adapted it to be a stewing sauce for chicken and pork, but maintained its Spanish moniker.  Once again, the Filipino palate affirmed itself.

From 1898 to 1946, American influences added yet another dimension to the Filipino food culture – speed and convenience.  Within a generation, not only did Filipinos speak English, they became consumers of American products - prepackaged foods, canned goods and fast foods. 

Today the Philippine cuisine continues to evolve as new ingredients and cooking techniques, styles and methods find their way into the country. A fusion of different dishes from earlier traders, Asian immigrants and former colonizers and the Filipinos’ love for cooking resulted into a unique Philippine cuisine – a melting pot of eastern and western cuisine and a gastronomic delight that has been savored for centuries.


Fernandez, Doreen. "Culture Ingested: On the Indigenization of Philippine Food." 2010.
Fernandez, Doreen."What is Filipino Food." 2009.