Discover all the scrumptious flavors of Filipino cuisine with this list of 15 must-try dishes. From iconic classics like adobo and sinigang, to more modern fusion recipes, these traditional Filipino foods are sure to tantalize your taste buds and transport you to a delicious culinary adventure!
Whether you’re in the mood for something spicy, sweet, salty, or sour, there’s something for everyone on this list. Keep reading to find out what the top 15 must-try Filipino dishes are!
Adobo: The National Dish of the Philippines
Adobo is considered the national dish of the Philippines, a savory stew made with a blend of garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar. The dish typically consists of chicken or pork, but can also include other meats like beef or fish. The ingredients list for traditional adobo includes chicken or pork, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, black pepper, bay leaves, and sometimes brown sugar.
The meat is marinated in the mixture before being simmered until tender. It can be served with rice or as a filling for sandwiches. Adobo is a staple in Filipino households, and it’s a perfect representation of the blend of Malay, Chinese, and Spanish influences in Philippine cuisine.
Sinigang: Sour and Savory Soup
Sinigang is a popular Filipino sour and savory soup dish, characterized by its tangy tamarind broth. The dish can be made with a variety of meats such as pork, beef, shrimp, or fish, and is often served with vegetables like okra, eggplant, and tomatoes. The ingredients list for traditional Sinigang includes tamarind, meat (pork, beef, shrimp, fish), vegetables (okra, eggplant, tomatoes), onions, garlic, fish sauce, and sometimes chili pepper.
The broth is usually made by simmering tamarind paste, fish sauce, and other seasonings together before adding in the meat and vegetables. It is a perfect balance of sourness and a savory flavor, and it’s a staple in Filipino households, It is considered a comfort food, especially during cold weather.
Kare-Kare: Peanut Stew with Meat and Vegetables
Kare-Kare is a traditional Filipino stew made from meat, such as beef, oxtail, or pork, and mixed vegetables cooked in a thick peanut sauce. The dish is characterized by its rich, savory, and slightly sweet flavor. The ingredients list for traditional Kare-Kare includes meat (beef, oxtail, or pork), mixed vegetables (such as eggplant, bok choy, and string beans), ground peanuts, onions, garlic, shrimp paste, and sometimes annatto powder for color.
The meat and vegetables are simmered in the peanut sauce, made from ground peanuts, onions, garlic, and shrimp paste. It is best paired with bagoong, a fermented shrimp paste, which adds a salty and savory taste to the dish.
Lechon: Whole Roasted Pig
Lechon is a whole roasted pig dish that is popular in the Philippines, typically served at special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and festivals. The pig is first marinated in a mixture of spices and herbs, then stuffed with aromatics such as lemongrass, onions, and garlic before being roasted until the skin is crispy. The ingredients list for traditional Lechon includes whole pig, salt, pepper, lemongrass, onion, garlic, calamansi or lime juice, soy sauce, and sometimes brown sugar.
The meat is tender, juicy, and flavorful, and the crispy skin is considered the best part of the dish. Lechon is usually served with liver sauce or a soy-vinegar dip. It is considered a delicacy in the Philippines, and the process of roasting a Lechon is an art form.
Pancit: Noodles with Meat and Vegetables
Pancit is a classic Filipino noodle dish, made with stir-fried noodles, meat (such as beef, pork, or shrimp), and vegetables. The traditional ingredients for pancit are noodles (typically bihon or Canton), carrots, cabbage, onions, garlic, celery, bell peppers, chicken broth, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
For added flavor and texture, versions of the dish can also include liver spread and pork cracklings. With its savory flavors from the combination of meat and vegetables in a fragrant broth along with the hearty chewiness of the noodles – Pancit is best paired with an ice-cold glass of tropical juice!
Sisig: Crispy Pork and Chicken Liver
Sisig is a popular Filipino dish made from parts of a pig’s head and liver, it’s usually served as a pulutan (bar food) and is often paired with beer. The dish is characterized by its crispy texture and spicy and sour flavor. The ingredients list for traditional sisig includes Pork face or head, chicken liver, onions, soy sauce, calamansi or lime juice, chili pepper, and sometimes mayonnaise and egg.
The pork is first boiled until tender, then grilled or fried until crispy, before being chopped and mixed with chicken liver, onions, and seasonings. It can be served on a sizzling plate, and garnished with chili pepper, calamansi, or lime juice and sometimes topped with a raw egg. It’s a popular dish in the Philippines, and it’s considered a delicacy.
Dinuguan: Pork Blood Stew
Dinuguan is a savory Filipino stew made from pork offal and blood. The dish is characterized by its rich, dark color and its unique combination of savory and slightly sweet flavors. The ingredients list for traditional Dinuguan includes pork offal (such as pig’s ears, snout, and tongue), pig’s blood, onions, garlic, ginger, chili pepper, fish sauce, and sometimes coconut milk.
The pork offal is simmered in a mixture of the pig’s blood, with fish sauce, chili pepper, onions, garlic, and ginger. It can be served with steamed white rice and garnished with sliced green onions. Dinuguan is considered a delicacy in the Philippines, and it’s considered a comfort food.
Lumpia: Filipino Spring Rolls
Lumpia is a Filipino version of spring rolls, it’s a popular appetizer or snack, made with a thin wrapper filled with a mixture of meat and vegetables. The ingredients list for traditional lumpia includes a thin wrapper made from flour and water, ground pork, onions, carrots, garlic, and sometimes other vegetables like cabbage or green beans, and seasonings like soy sauce, pepper, and sometimes sesame oil. The filling is then wrapped in the wrapper and deep-fried until crispy.
It can be served with sweet chili sauce, or a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Lumpia is a versatile dish, it can be served as an appetizer, a snack, or as a main dish. It’s a perfect representation of the blend of Chinese and Malay influences in Philippine cuisine.
Bistek Tagalog: Thinly Sliced Beef in a Garlic and Soy Sauce
Bistek Tagalog is a traditional Filipino dish made from thinly sliced beef, marinated in a mixture of soy sauce and calamansi or lime juice, then sautéed with onions and garlic. The dish is characterized by its savory, slightly sweet, and tangy flavor. The ingredients list for traditional Bistek Tagalog includes thinly sliced beef, soy sauce, calamansi or lime juice, onions, garlic, black pepper, and sometimes brown sugar.
The beef is marinated in the mixture before being sautéed with onions and garlic. It can be served with a side of steamed white rice and garnished with onion rings. Bistek Tagalog is a popular dish in the Philippines, and it’s considered a comfort food, it’s also a perfect representation of the blend of Spanish and Chinese influences in Philippine cuisine.
Halo-Halo: Mixed-Shaved Ice and Milk Dessert
Halo-Halo is a popular Filipino dessert that translates to “mix-mix” in English, it’s a colorful and refreshing treat made from a combination of shaved ice and milk, topped with a variety of sweet beans, fruits, and other ingredients.
The ingredients list for traditional Halo-Halo includes: shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweet beans (such as red mung beans, chickpeas, and sweetened kidney beans), fruits (such as jackfruit, banana, and coconut strips), sweetened condensed milk, Leche flan, ube (purple yam) ice cream or ube halaya (purple yam jam), and sometimes topped with crushed ice cream, or crushed pinipig (toasted young green rice).
The combination of ingredients and flavors creates a unique and delicious taste, it’s a perfect dessert to beat the heat.
Leche Flan: Creamy Caramel Pudding
Leche Flan is a classic Filipino dessert that blends cream and caramel for a creamy, sweet treat. This delicious pudding requires only a few simple ingredients: condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whether served as an after-dinner delight or an early morning breakfast treat, Leche Flan is sure to tantalize your taste buds with its silky smooth texture and irresistible flavor.
Tapsilog: Marinated Beef, Fried Rice, and Egg
Tapsilog is a popular Filipino breakfast dish that combines marinated beef, fried rice, and an egg. This hearty combination packs a flavorful punch and offers the perfect way to start your day. You’ll need: thinly sliced beef steak, soy sauce, calamansi or lemon juice, garlic powder, ground pepper, cornstarch, cooking oil, cooked white rice, eggs for frying, and onions for garnish.
Enjoy this savory combination of marinated beef and fried rice with a sunny-side-up egg to complete the meal!
Camaron Rebosado: Fried Shrimp in a Light Batter
Camaron Rebosado is a traditional Filipino dish of fried shrimp in a light batter. The simple combination of ingredients creates the perfect crunchy texture on the outside and a tender, succulent flavor within.
All you need for this delectable seafood treat is large shrimp, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, water, eggs, and vegetable oil for frying. Enjoy Camaron Rebosado as an appetizer or as a main course – there’s no wrong way to savor this delicious dish!
Torta: Filipino Omelette
Torta is a classic Filipino omelet that is full of flavor and texture. This savory dish requires only a few ingredients: eggs, onion, garlic, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and whitefish. The secret is to fry the egg mixture until just cooked through but still a bit runny inside – this will give you the perfect balance between crisp and creamy.
Enjoy Torta for breakfast or as an appetizer – it’s sure to please any palate!
Balut: Boiled Fertilized Duck Egg
Balut is a fertilized duck egg that is a popular delicacy in the Philippines, it’s a street food, typically sold by street vendors, and is often consumed as a snack or an appetizer. It is a fertilized duck egg that is incubated for a period of 14 to 21 days before it is boiled and consumed.
The ingredients list for traditional Balut includes fertilized duck egg and salt. The egg is typically boiled for around 20 minutes, and then it’s served in its shell. Balut is considered a delicacy and it is often consumed with a sprinkle of salt or with a dipping sauce made of vinegar and chili pepper. It is considered a high-protein snack.
Filipino cuisine is a diverse and flavorful blend of Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and other influences. From the tangy tamarind broth of Sinigang to the savory-sweet Bistek Tagalog, there are so many delicious dishes that make up the Philippine culinary experience.
Whether you’re looking for a comforting soup such as Dinuguan or a refreshing dessert like Halo-Halo, Filipino cuisine has something for everyone to enjoy. With its unique flavor combinations and vibrant ingredients, Filipino food is sure to delight your taste buds!