Filipino cuisine is a vibrant collection of flavors deeply rooted in tradition and history.
From the bustling streets of Manila to the serene shores of Palawan, the Philippines boasts a culinary landscape that’s as diverse as its rich cultural heritage. Because of the often fresh and local produce used in the meals, most of these dishes are surprisingly healthy as well.
In this article, we will explore a selection of Filipino recipes that are nutritious, filling, but most importantly, super tasty. From comforting starters to healthy main courses and enticing side dishes, you’ll love how packed full of good stuff all of these meals are.
Be prepared to be transported to the tropical shores of the Philippines from the comfort of your own kitchen.
Whether you’re a Filipino food aficionado or a newcomer eager to explore new tastes, these recipes promise a delightful and health-conscious journey that will leave your taste buds tingling with the exotic and comforting flavors of the Philippines.
Starters And Light Bites
Our first recipe is a heartwarming Filipino chicken soup known for its comforting flavors. Made with tender chicken, ginger, green papaya, and chili leaves, it’s a soothing, aromatic dish that’s perfect for a rainy day or when you need a cozy start to your meal.
Cooking Tip: To enhance the flavor of tinola, use homemade chicken broth or stock. Simmering chicken with ginger, garlic, and onion in a flavorful broth ensures a more robust and authentic taste.
Pairing Dish: Serve tinola with a side of freshly cooked rice and pair it with some green mango salad (ensaladang mangga) for a refreshing contrast of flavors.
Chicken inasal is a Filipino grilled chicken dish packed with vibrant flavors. The marinated chicken skewers and grilled to perfection, resulting in a smoky, slightly sweet, and tangy taste. It’s a great choice for those who love a little char in their food.
Cooking Tip: Marinate the chicken for at least a few hours, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat thoroughly. Use calamansi or a mix of lime and lemon just for that authentic Filipino citrusy touch.
Pairing Dish: Chicken inasal goes perfectly with garlic fried rice (sinangag) and a side of pickled green papaya (atchara). The fragrant garlic rice and the tangy papaya balance the smoky flavors of the grilled chicken.
This delightful dish combines young coconut hearts (ubod), sweet pomelos, and succulent shrimp in a zesty, citrusy dressing. It’s a refreshing and light starter or snack, perfect for a tropical twist on your appetizers.
Cooking Tip: Make sure to peel the pomelo carefully to avoid any bitter pitch. To do this, cut the skin and carefully remove the segments while removing the membranes.
Pairing Dish: Complement this fresh and zesty dish with a bowl of steamed rice and a side of Filipino-style shrimp paste (bagoong). The combination of sweet and tangy shrimp salad with the imami-rich shrimp paste is a flavor explosion.
This next dish is a true Filipino classic that offers a harmonious blend of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices. The chicken is simmered in this savory sauce until it’s tender and incredibly flavorful. It’s a staple in Filipino households for a reason.
Cooking Tip: For a more intense flavor, sear the chicken pieces briefly before simmering in the adobo sauce. This step adds an extra layer of depth to the dish.
Pairing Dish: Serve chicken adobo with a side of garlic fried rice and a small plate of Filipino-style salted eggs (Itlog na Maalat). The richness of the salted eggs compliments the savory adobo.
If you’re looking for a quicker way to savor the flavor of chicken adobo, the instant pot version should be your go-to. This modern twist on the classic dish ensures a speedy and equally scrumptious meal.
Cooking Tip: When using the instant pot, remember that a little vinegar goes a long way, so reduce the amount slightly to avoid an overly tangy result.
Pairing Dish: Pair instant pot chicken adobo with a simple green salad and a bowl of steamed jasmine rice. The fresh greens provide a nice contrast to the richness of the adobo.
6. Pork Adobo
Pork adobo is another beloved Filipino favorite. It’s similar to chicken adobo but made with pork, delivering a rich, savory taste that’s perfect for meal lovers.
Cooking Tip: Use a combination of pork belly and pork shoulder for a balance of tender, fatty, and lean meat in your pork adobo.
Pairing dish: Accompany pork adobo with a serving of sauteed water spinach (adobong kangkong) and a heap of steamed rice. The garlicky greens add a nice crunch and freshness to the meal.
7. Pancit Bihon
Pancit bihon is a Filipino stir-fried noodle dish that’s full of flavor. It features thin rice noodles, sauteed vegetables, and a choice of meat or seafood. It’s a comforting and hearty meal, often enjoyed on a special occasion.
Cooking Tip: Stir-fry the ingredients in batches to maintain the texture and prevent overcrowding the wok. This ensures that each element is cooked to perfection.
Pairing Dish: Pair pancit bihon with lumpia (Filipino spring rolls) for a complete Filipino meal. A sweet chili dipping sauce complements the flavors of both dishes.
For those who are following a plant-based diet but still want to get in on the Filipino goodness, this vegan pancit bihon offers a delightful alternative. It replaces the meat with tofu or other vegan protein sources while maintaining the delicious taste of the traditional dish.
Cooking Tip: For extra flavor in your vegan pancit bihon, add a dash of soy sauce or liquid aminos along with the vegetables for a savory twist.
Pairing Dish: Serve vegan pancit bihon with a side of fresh vegetables spring rolls and a peanut dipping sauce. It creates a harmonious balance of textures and flavors.
Sinigang poke combines the freshness of poke with the tangy goodness of Filipino sinigang. This inventive dish features marinated raw fish or seafood with a sinigang-inspired twist, showcasing the unique blend of flavors from the Philippines.
Cooking Tip: Choose the freshest seafood or fish for your sinigang poke to ensure the best taste. Don’t skimp on quality.
Pairing Dish: Pair this meal with a bowl of garlic fried rice and a side of green mango salad.
10. Bisket Tagalog
Bisket Tagalog is a delightful Filipino biscuit or cookie. It’s often enjoyed as a sweet treat, perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth, or as an accompaniment to coffee or tea.
Cooking Tip: When making this dish, ensure your oven is preheated to the correct temp in order to get golden biskets.
Pairing Dish: Enjoy this with a cup of traditional Filipino coffee, known as “barako.”
11. Lumpiang Sariwa
Lumpiang sariwa is a type of fresh spring roll filled with vegetables, shrimp, and a garlic-peanut sauce. It’s a healthy and appetizing side dish that’s enjoyed for its crisp freshness.
Cooking Tip: Use fresh and crisp lettuce leaves as wrappers for your lumpiang sariwa.
Pairing Dish: Serve lumpiang sariwa with a classic Filipino dipping sauce made from a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, sugar, and crushed peanuts.
12. Ensaladang Lato
Ensaladang Lato is a simple yet delightful seaweed salad. It features sea grapes (lato) tossed in a tangy vinaigrette. It’s a unique and refreshing side dish that adds a touch of the Pacific Ocean to your dinner table.
Cooking Tip: To keep this dish crisp and fresh, it’s important to rinse the sea grapes thoroughly.
Pairing Dish: Pair ensaladang lato with grilled seafood, such as grilled squid or grilled fish.
In the world of culinary exploration, Filipino cuisine stands out as a gem waiting to be discovered.
The recipes we’ve uncovered in this journey, from the aromatic comforts of Tinola to the zesty allure of sinigang poke, have given us a taste of the rich cornucopia of flavors that make up Filipino cooking.
Through each dish, we’ve not only savored delicious meals but also recognized the heart and soul of Filipino culture.
The importance of gathering around the table, the warmth of hospitality, and the artistry of blending sweet, savory, and tangy flavors have all left their mark on culinary traditions around the world.
Let’s continue to carry the spirit of exploration and celebration that Filipino cooking embodies. May your kitchen continue to be a place where cultures meet and where every meal is an opportunity to create and share stories with the people you hold dear.
Here’s to the flavors, traditions, and culinary delights of the Philippines!
Looking for more inspiration? Try these vegetarian dishes.
If you’re looking to eat a heart-healthy diet of Filipino food, try to avoid fried foods, and consider serving yourself half portions of rice. There are some traditional dishes like bulanglang and monggo guisado that are particularly healthy for your heart whilst still being super tasty.
There are a lot of very popular vegetables that can be found in a large selection of Filipino dishes. For example, Sitaw, kangkong, sayote, and okra are staples in the majority of Filipino meals.
The 12 Most Healthy Filipino RecipesCourse: Other Recipes
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