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Culture Guide

Discover Filipino cuisine

08 December 2023

Filipino cuisine

A tropical treasure trove for adventurous food lovers.

A tropical treasure trove for adventurous food lovers

Over 7,641 islands make up the Philippines archipelago and around 2000 of these are inhabited, so it’s no surprise the local food is so rich and diverse. The cuisine is as colourful as the festivals that paint the many islands. And each recipe tells a unique story of Filipino culture, passed down through generations. So let’s delve into the rich history, regional variations, and iconic dishes that make Filipino food so special.

Unique flavours and influences

Centuries of cultural fusion have given Filipino cuisine its unique identity. The Spanish introduced tomatoes, potatoes, and chilli peppers. Chinese traders brought soy sauce and noodles. While the Americans brought canned goods and fast food culture. Now, the vibrant mix of sweet (tamis), sour (asim), and salty (alat) flavours, combined with a mastery of spices and fresh ingredients, ensure that every bite tells a captivating story of cultural cross-pollination.


Why it’s all about the rice

Rice has been ingrained in Filipino tradition for thousands of years and is a staple of countless dishes. From fragrant jasmine rice to glutinous sticky rice, each brings its own unique texture and flavour to the table. More than just a side dish, it is the star of delicacies like bibingka (rice cake) and suman (sweet, sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves). And leftover rice is often fried and served for breakfast with egg and cured meat.



Regional delicacies

The diverse culinary landscape  means there’s no shortage of flavours and experiences to discover. In the North, Ilocos is renowned for its spicy Longganisa (sausage) and Bagnet (crispy pork belly). In the Central Visayas, Cebu is famous for its Chicken Inasal (char-grilled chicken) and  Lechon (roast pig), hailed as some of the best in the world. Further south, in the Bicol region, you’ll find spicy dishes such as Laing (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk) and the iconic Bicol Express (pork stewed in spicy coconut gravy).

Three iconic Filipino dishes you have to try

  1. Adobo has been called the unofficial Filipino national dish. Pork, chicken or fish is marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and spices, producing tender meat with a delightful balance of tanginess, saltiness and savoury goodness.
  2. Sinigang is a comforting soup that showcases the souring agents of tamarind or other native fruits. Tender meat is blended with fresh vegetables and a tangy broth, bursting with flavours that will warm your soul.
  3. Halo-Halo means ‘mixed together’, which perfectly describes this eclectic dessert. A medley of sweet beans, jellies, fruits, cream and shaved ice that bursts with contrasting textures and flavours.