Asia is highly regarded as one of the most innovative and rich areas when it comes to cuisine with global appeal but while countries such as Japan and Thailand are often singled out as specific examples worth note, the Philippines is often forgotten from the list. Though Filipinos themselves take pride in their national dishes, most are yet to be exposed to a wider audience but if the chefs of the country get their way, people around the world will soon be marvelling in the cuisine they so adore. If all goes to plan, we could soon enjoy the following dishes.
- Adobo: A staple dish in almost every household in the Philippines, adobo is typically made using either pork or chicken and is cooked in vinegar, oil, garlic, soy sauce and black peppercorns until the edges are beautifully crisp.
- Chicken inasal: To prepare this popular dish, chicken is marinated in lemongrass, garlic, salt, pepper and calamansi before being grilled. Delicious even on its own, it is most often served with orange infused garlic rice.
- Lechon: A frequent centrepiece at celebrations and special occasions, lechon is made by cooking an entire pig over charcoal until golden and crisp.
- Arroz caldo: This warming chicken dish is flavoured with ginger, garlic and green onion. It is a favourite at marker stalls on the busy streets of the likes of Manila.
- Fish tanola: A sour fish broth made with tomatoes, onions and tamarind; this really makes the most of the fresh seafood at hand in the Philippines.
- Pancit habhab: This dish is comprised of noodles and carrots and sometimes small strips of meat served in the leaf of a banana plant. This tasty, bite size creation makes a great appetizer to kick off a meal or a fast snack when you are on the go.
- Kare-Kare: Oxtail stew with eggplant and string beans, topped with a sauce made from crushed peanuts and ground, toasted rice; the textures and rich flavours make this simple yet effective dish a meal of its own.
- Laing: Taro leaves cooked in coconut milk with chili often added to give it a bit of a kick; this dish is very popular among the locals.
- Lumpiang ubod: For this, the pith of a coconut is used to make a sweet filling for the Filipino version of a spring roll. A savoury version contains the pith along with shrimp, pork and onions in a garlic sauce.
- Bicol express: The meeting ground for lovers of spice and refreshment, this pork stew is made using both chili and coconut milk.
- Suman at mango: Rice is steamed in the leaves of banana or coconut and served with fresh, juicy mango for this refreshing, light delicacy, hugely popular at market stalls.
Filipino food has not quite made the journey across the waters just yet and so in the meantime, the best way to enjoy the national food of the Philippines is of course to travel there and experience it or yourself. With cheap flights readily available to the capital city, Manila – where you can expect to find true examples of the above dishes at their very best – you could get there with plenty of money left over to indulge in what is shaping up to be the next big cuisine to take the world by storm.