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Roasted Pig

Food, Traditions, & Culture

Philippine cuisine style of cooking evolved over many centuries from their Austronesian origins to a mixed culture of Malay, Indonesian, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, American and many other waves of influence that has enriched the cultures of the archipelago.  Filipino food ranges from the simple meal of rice and fried salted fish to the complex Paellas (Spanish origin created for fiestas).  Popular dishes include Lechon (whole roasted pig).


The Longganisa

The Longganisa (Filipino sausage), Tapa (cured beef), Torta (omelet), Adobo-chicken and or pork braised in garlic, onions, vinegar, oil and soy sauce or cooked until dry, Kaldereta (meat in tomato sauce stew), Putchero (beef in Saba bananas and tomato sauce),  Afritada (chicken and/or pork simmered in tomato sauce with vegetables),  Kare-Kare (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), Pinakbet (pumpkin squash, eggplant, string beans and okra flavored with Bagoong (salted fish sauce, or shrimp paste), crispy pata (deep fried pig’s  legs, sinigang soup (meat or seafood in sour broth), pancit (fried noodles),  lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls),  and tinola soup (chicken with green papaya). 

Today, Philippine cuisine continues to evolve as new techniques, styles of cooking and ingredients find their way into the country.  But mostly, it’s cuisine centers around the combination of sweet (tamis), sour (asim) and salty (alat) and in the Bicol region, the Cordilleras and among the Muslim Filipinos, spicy (anghang) is a base of cooking flavor.  Vinegar and soy sauce are common ingredients.  An example is the Adobo dish, popular not solely for its good taste but also for its ability to be stored for days without spoiling and even improves in flavor with a day or two of storage.

The Longganisa

Tinapa

Coconuts

Tinapa

Also popular are Tinapa, a smoked-cured fish.  Tuyo, Daing and Dangit are sun-dried fish; all can last weeks without spoiling, and no need for refrigeration!  Cooking and eating in the Philippines has traditionally been an informal and communal centered around the family kitchen.  Filipinos eat traditionally three meals a day and rice is always served.  Breakfast (almusal), lunch (tanghalian) and dinner (hapunan). Snacks (merienda) is also common and served in the afternoon. 

Dinner is the main meal but served in smaller portion compared to other countries.  Because of Western influence, Filipinos eat food using flat wares: forks, spoons and knives.  But the primary pairs of utensils used at a Filipino dining table is spoon and fork, not knife and fork.  The traditional way of eating is with the hands especially dry dishes such as inihaw (grilled or roasted) or prito (fried).  This practice is known as KAMAYAN (eating with the hands).  Filipinos tend to feel the spirit of KAMAYAN when eating amidst nature during out-of-town trips, beach vacations and town fiestas.

Filipinos love to eat rice, the staple food in the Philippines.  Rice is mostly steamed and is served with meat, fish, and vegetable dishes.  Leftover rice is fried with garlic to make Sinangag which is usually served at breakfast together with a fried egg and sausage or Tapa.  Rice is most often enjoyed with broth or sauce from the main dishes.  Sticky rice with cocoa clawed Champorado is also a common breakfast dish served with Tuyo or dried herring.  

A variety of fruit and vegetables are often used in Filipino cooking.   Bananas (the Saba variety in particular),  Kalamansi, guavas (bayabas), mangoes, papayas and pineapples make a distinctly tropical flair in many dishes.  Also, commonly used are leafy vegetables like water spinach (jangling).  Chinese cabbage (petsay), cabbage (repolyo), eggplant (talong) and foot long beans (sitaw).  And of course, Filipinos love coconuts: it’s ubiquitous!

Great for a refreshing energy drink in the morning is the fresh coconut juice.  Coconut wine (Tuba) is an evening alcoholic drink.  Coconut meat is also often used in making desserts, coconut milk (Gata) in  sauces and coconut oil for frying.


The Merienda

Meat staples include pork, chicken, beef and fish.  Seafood is most popular because the archipelago is surrounded by large bodies of water.  Popular catches include Tilapia, milk fish (Bangus), catfish (Hito), grouper (Lapu-Lapu), shrimp (Hipon), prawns (Sugpo), mackerel (Galungggong), swordfish (Ispada), oysters (Talaba), mussels (Tahong), clams (Halaan and Tulya), large river crabs (Alimango), blue sea crabs (Alimasag), game fish, tuna, blue marlins, squid (Pusit) and varieties of other fish caught in the open seas.

The usual way of having fish is to pan-fry and eaten as a simple meal with rice and vegetables.  It is also commonly cooked in a sour broth or tamarind prepared vegetables and souring agent to make Sinigang.  Paksiw is made by simmering fish in vinegar, garlic, ginger, onions and pepper.  Fish can also be roasted over hot charcoal or wood (inihaw).  Other preparations include Kinilaw, similar to ceviche, marinated in vinegar, hot pepper and kalamansi, or fish prepared by smoke (Tinapa) or sun-dried (Tuyo or Daing).

The (snacks) served in the afternoon is a common thing among Filipinos.  Most popular snacks served are the island treat Halo-Halo (mixed-mixed, see picture below), fried bananas, fried sweet potatoes and the sweet ginataan! 

There’s so much greater Filipino foods for your eating experience when you visit the country!  Come, explore and enjoy!

Merienda