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15 Delicious Filipino Dishes To Eat

Learn about Filipino cuisine with these traditional dishes.

You might be wary of trying new foods, but experiencing new flavors and ingredients is a great way to learn about different cultures.

Pork Adobo or Adobong Baboy is filipino cuisine dish with braised pork belly

Challenging your palate can open you up to new worlds and new experiences. Not to mention finding new foods to love is an excellent motivator for future trips and travels!

I am not saying you’ll love every new dish you try, but at least you made an effort, which is more than most people can say!

I’ve made a list of the most popular Filipino foods I have tried and feel great about recommending them to others.

I believe that the unique food preparation found in the Philippines will delight your taste buds, and you will be able to savor ingredients you have never tried before.

Popular Filipino Foods

Try some of these Filipino dishes and experience a great new culture. Here is a quick look at each of these dishes.


Kare Kare

Kare Kare is a traditional Filipino stew served at several festivals. This delicious stew is known for its tender meat, peanut sauce, and vegetables.

Kare Kare is traditionally prepared with oxtail, but you can also make it with beef tripe, pork hocks, calves feet, pig’s feet, ox trotters, and beef stew meat.

Once you have made your base by boiling the meat, add vegetables such as eggplant, Chinese cabbage, daikon, green beans, okra, or asparagus beans.

You flavor this tasty stew with peanuts, peanut butter, onions, and garlic. Thicken it with toasted or plain brown rice.


Lechon

One of the tastiest dishes in the Philippines is Lechon. The name is derived from the Spanish word that means suckling pig.

A pig is stuffed with lemongrass, tamarind, garlic, onion, and chives and then slow-roasted on a bamboo spit over an open fire. Lechon is served whole on a platter at large celebrations such as festivals and weddings.

People usually savor every part of the tender pork, and the crispy skin is especially favored. Lechon is served with a liver sauce made from sugar, fresh herbs, and vinegar.

And the leftovers don’t go to waste! Anything not eaten makes another tasty treat called Lechon slaw.


Sinigang

Another famous Filipino stew is sinigang. This hearty stew is renowned for its sour yet delicious taste.

They often use tamarind as a souring agent, with other sour fruits and leaves coming in second. Sinigang is meat or seafood stewed with tamarind, tomatoes, garlic, and onions.

You can add okra, taro corms, white radish, water spinach, yardlong beans, and eggplant.

Traditional Filipino sinigang is made with long green peppers to spice up the stew. Filipinos love this stew and prepare it as a regular daily meal or for celebrating holidays and festivals.

Filipinos offer Sinigang to visitors as a traditional welcome meal.


Adobo

The word adobo refers to a marinade or a seasoning. Filipino adobo is a cooking process unique to the Philippines, where Filipinos stew their meat with vinegar.

Filipino adobo uses ingredients native to Southeast Asia, like vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, black peppercorns, and bay leaves.

Adobo is usually cooked with pork or chicken, and vegetables such as water-spinach and long green beans come into the mix for extra flavor.

Filipino adobo tastes very salty but sour at the same time. This adobo has some similarities to the Spanish adobo, but it has an entirely different preparation and cooking method.


Halo Halo

Halo-halo is one of the most popular cold desserts in the Philippines and comes in delicious layers.

The bottom layer consists of fruit, beans, or other sweets. Various fruits are chosen for this layer of the dessert, such as sugar palm fruit, coconut sport, saba plantains, agar jellies, sweet potato, etc.

It is covered with shaved ice, and the shaved ice is topped with mashed purple yam or ice cream.

Evaporated or coconut milk is poured over the mixture when served, and the dessert is meant to be mixed before eating.

You can find various local varieties throughout the country, depending on the types of fruit used.


Kinilaw

Kinilaw is the method of preparing a raw seafood dish native to the Philippines.

The cooking process uses vinegar and fruit juices to prepare the ingredients, and this method is also used to saute meat and vegetables.

Kinilaw dishes often serve as appetizers or finger foods that accompany alcoholic drinks.

The most popular kinilaw dish is prepared with raw fish cubes mixed with vinegar and a souring agent such as tamarind or mangoes.

Salt, pepper, ginger, onions, and chili peppers add flavor. Kinilaw is an excellent healthy option because a regular serving contains only 147 calories!


Balut

Balut is a Filipino delicacy that might take courage to sample. Balut is a developing egg embryo boiled and eaten from the shell.

The length of the incubation depends on preference but usually lasts between 14 and 21 days, and duck eggs are the most popular. The eggs are incubated in the sun or buried in the sand.

The partially developed embryo bones are soft enough to chew and swallow. Balut is typical street food but also sold in stores and malls.

In the Philippines, Balut is considered haute cuisine, and it is popular because of its unique combination of texture and flavor.


Turon

Turon is one of the most popular snack foods in the Philippines. It is made with sliced bananas sprinkled with brown sugar and rolled in a spring roll wrapper.

The turon is fried until the wrapper is lightly crisp. Turon is also made with jackfruit, mango, sweet potato, and cheddar cheese.

Turons are sold along the streets along with banana cue, camote cue, and maruya. These are all great snacks to eat while you are on the go, and they are sweet, crunchy, and delicious.

Fresh turon makes an excellent afternoon snack in the Philippines, and this is a simple snack you can make at home.


Kaldereta

Kaldereta is a Philippine stew made from goat meat. Some variations of kaldereta use beef, chicken, or pork.

The meat is stewed with vegetables and liver paste and often includes tomatoes, potatoes, olives, bell peppers, and hot peppers, and some variations will have tomato sauce.

Kaldereta is served during special occasions.

When using goat meat, the meat must be tenderized with vinegar, salt, and pepper for at least an hour, and the marination will eliminate the gamey flavor of the meat.

Kaldereta has a salty-sweet flavor that is uncommon in stews, and it has a thick, flavorful sauce that will have your mouth watering.


Bicol Express

Another popular Filipino dish is Bicol Express. It is a stew prepared with long chili peppers, small chili peppers, coconut milk or cream, shrimp paste, stockfish, onion, pork, ginger, and garlic.

Bicol Express serves most often with a side of rice.

This flavorful stew is made by dicing garlic, onion, and ginger. These ingredients are cooked for three minutes before adding the chunks of pork.

Once the pork has browned, the coconut cream or milk is added and simmered on low heat. Then the long chilies are added.

The Bicol express is not for the faint of heart; it is a spicy dish that will make your taste buds dance.


Lumpia

Lumpia is one of the Philippines’ most popular dishes served at celebrations.

Lumpia is a variety of spring rolls containing sweet or savory fillings prepared for a snack or an appetizer, and the paper-thin wrapper distinguishes the Filipino lumpia.

They are stuffed with meat and vegetables, and lumpia can be served fresh or fried.

Lumpia is enjoyed best in one of the traditional sweet and sour sauces, vinegar-based sauces, banana ketchup, or sweet chili sauce.

Filipino lumpia has a delicious dessert variety, turôn, which will satisfy any sweet tooth as mentioned before.


Laing

Another popular Filipino side dish is laing. This dish is prepared with meat or seafood cooked in coconut milk and flavored with taro leaves, chili, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, ginger, and shrimp paste.

Laing is served to complement meat or fish dishes, and boiled white rice comes as a side.

Laing is most commonly prepared with pork, shrimp, or fish flakes. The ingredients are wrapped in a taro leaf and then steamed in coconut milk.

Taro leaves must be cleaned because they contain calcium oxalate crystals which can cause itching and burning in the mouth. Leaves can also be dried to lessen the number of crystals.


Pancit

Pancit is a general term used to describe various traditional noodle dishes in the Philippines.

There are many different types of pancit depending on the noodles, preparation, place of origin, and the ingredients.

Pancit is known for being served with calamansi, a citrus fruit native to the Philippines.

Pancit is an everyday meal, and it can be eaten alone or paired with white rice, bread, or steamed rice cakes.

Find Pancit around tables during festivals, gatherings, and religious ceremonies, since it is pretty easy to prepare pancit in large quantities.

Pancit is prepared by sautéeing ingredients with garlic, onions, vegetables, meat, or seafood. 


Sisig

Sisig is a uniquely Filipino dish prepared from parts of a pig’s face and belly. It also includes chicken liver seasoned with calamansi, onions, and chili peppers. 

There are three steps to preparing a traditional sisig: boiling, broiling, and lastly, grilling.

The boiling process removes any hair on the pig’s head and tenderizes it. Parts of the head are cut and then grilled or boiled, and finished off with onions.

There are several variations to Sisig that include pork, ox brains, and pork cracklings. It is served as a main course or a snack, and Sisig is served on a heated plate so the pork fat will not congeal.


Pinakbet

Pinakbet is a traditional Filipino dish native to the northern regions of the Philippines.

This dish is made by sautéeing vegetables in a fish or shrimp sauce. 

Pinakbet usually includes bitter melon. Other commonly used vegetables are eggplant, tomato, okra, string beans, chili peppers, or winged beans.

Vegetables are widely grown in backyard gardens, so they are easily accessible. Pinakbet is flavored with ginger, onions, and garlic.

Pinakbet is usually cooked until it is close to being dry and shriveled. The shrimp paste complements the flavors of the vegetables.

Meats are also added for more substance, the most common being pork.


Popular Filipino Foods

  1. Kare Kare
  2. Lechon 
  3. Sinigang
  4. Adobo
  5. Halo Halo
  6. Kinilaw
  7. Balut
  8. Turon
  9. Kaldereta
  10. Bicol Express
  11. Lumpia
  12. Laing
  13. Pancit 
  14. Sisig
  15. Pinakbet

Final Thoughts

Experiencing new foods can be an adventure, and Filipino food will delight the palate and your adventurous spirit. In my opinion, these fifteen dishes are delicious and well worth trying. It is a great idea to challenge yourself to try new foods and flavors to broaden your cultural knowledge.

You probably never considered eating parts of a pig’s head, but once you try it, you might find you love it! 

Check out other types of cuisine, like Persian foods you should try or traditional Vietnamese dishes!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.