Food Trends: Filipino Cuisine
When you think of Asian cuisine, the mind conjures up images of fragrant Asian flavours from Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Pho, noodles, nasi goreng, and summer rolls… they’re all part and parcel when it comes to Asian food favourites.
Our minds are so pre-occupied with what’s considered to be mainstream Asian food that we often overlook Asia’s smaller nations. The popularity of Asian food isn’t waning, and today even the small players are making their mark.
One emerging 2017 food trend hails from the Philippines. Filipino food, with its intense bold flavours and punchy colours, is slowly infiltrating Asian food supermarkets and restaurants around the world.
An Explosion of Tastes
Imagine Malaysian, Chinese, Spanish and Indonesian food fused into one. With distinctive signature tastes of spicy, sweet and sour, Filipino food is set to overtake the Asian food market. 2017 is going to be huge for lesser-known Asian food cuisines with Filipino food at the forefront.
The Culture behind the Trend
The Philippines – An Untapped Food Paradise
Best known for its scenic coastlines and world-class sandy beaches, this Southeast Asian archipelago attracts thousands of tourists every year. With more than 7,100 islands and 120 different languages, the Philippines boast an extraordinary cuisine that blends the East with the New World.
Flavours and colours are prominent in authentic Filipino food with pork, garlic, ginger and flavour-infused vinegar all featuring heavily. Unlike her neighbouring sister countries, the Philippines also has an array of mouth-watering desserts.
Perhaps what is more powerful than anything else is the rawness and authenticity of everything related to Filipino cuisine; you can’t help fall in love with the islands’ quirky dishes with attitude.
Food From the Philippines in a Nutshell
One might wonder why it’s only now that Filipino food has begun to trend. Many would argue that the reasons why are deeply rooted in the country’s history. With a long history of colonization over and over again, Filipinos lacked confidence in their cuisine’s culture and beauty.
Today, many traditional Filipino cooking methods are still widely used. To say the Filipino palate is unique is an understatement. Bold sweet and sour tastes, which were born out of the necessity of fermentation, stand out and not one animal part is spared. Curious and somewhat intimidating, the rest of the world has only now begun to explore and really appreciate the culinary delights of the Philippines.
Even in the country’s capital, Manila, Western food has been traditionally served to please the burgeoning expat community and tourist influxes. 2017 also marks the year for local international hotels, such as the 5-star Raffles Makati Hotel, introducing traditional Filipino menus to their repertoire.
A Go-To Filipino Menu
Unsure what to choose when it comes to food in the Philippines? Here’s a low-down on some of the must-try go to Filipino signature dishes.
Adobo is one of the most popular Filipino dishes, and given the country’s vastness spanning over thousands of islands, it’s no surprise that Adobo can be created in at least a 100 different ways. The answer to the Philippines idea of comfort food, this hearty braised chicken stew tastes better with age.
Kare Kare is yet another Filipino culinary gem. Oxtail, ox tripe, peanuts, string beans, and a plethora of leafy greens make up this winter warming stew that’s a Filipino family favourite after Sunday Mass.
Lechon is sure to feature greatly on Filipino menus outside of the Philippines. It’s a must! Hailing from the province of Cebu, you’ll never try any other suckling pig as delicious as this – the contrast of the crunchy crackling and the tender meat makes for an amazing alternative Asian fast food.
Crispy Pata is the ultimate sinful dish. This is deep-fried pork at its best. With an obvious garlicky taste, other notes include star anise, bay leaves and pepper.
Lumpia are the Philippines answer to the ubiquitous Spring Roll. With a clear Chinese influence, the minced combo of pork or chicken meat, vegetables and fragrant spices make these deep-fried treats worth trying.
Pancit is another classic Filipino dish with roots that lie in China. A fast and simple noodle dish, which is traditionally eaten on birthdays, represents long life and health.
Ube is a yam variation with mild flavours. Expect to see this bright purple tuber feature as a side dish or mixed into the cuisine’s pastries or desserts. Maharilika restaurant in NYC is perhaps one of the world’s most famous Filipino restaurants outside the Philippines. With a love of fusing Eastern and Western ingredients, you’ll be treated to an array of exciting Ube infused foods such as deep-fried chicken and waffles.
Chicharon is the ultimate beer snack. Deep-fried pork rinds can be found in almost every Filipino mini-market. Make sure you look out for it in your local Asian supermarket. Top tip – dip your Chicharon in spicy vinegar to enjoy this wicked snack like the locals.
Filipino Food – The Weird and Wonderful
Filipino food can be intimidating, especially since the locals like to maximize every animal part. However, if you look past its contents, you’ll soon discover that those so-called ‘weird’ Filipino dishes are indeed something out of this world.
Sizzling Sisig is a meaty meal packed with rich flavours. This pork-heavy dish, created from pigs’ jowls, snouts and ears, is doused heavily in vinegar and chilies and makes for the ideal fried dish to complement beer and good times.
Halo Halo is most certainly one of the world’s strangest desserts, and translates as mix-mix in Tagalog. Found all over the Philippines, this sweet dish includes almost everything bar the kitchen sink. A concoction of shaved ice and evaporated milk is typically topped off with an assortment of fresh local fruit, tapioca, chickpeas, coconut, and at times even sweet potato. It sounds strange, but somehow Halo Halo just works.
Dinuguan, otherwise known as ‘chocolate meat’, is another warming stew made out of the blood of the pig. Pork jowls and ears are tenderised, diced and quickly sautéed with fresh garlic, ginger, spring onion and vinegar, which are then slowly stewed in pig’s blood.
Balut isn’t for the faint hearted. This classic cold-treating Philippines dish is traditionally used for medicinal purposes. There’s no other way to describe it other than a fertilized duck egg, which is cracked open and slurped up to ward off flu symptoms.
Where to Experience Filipino Food Outside of the Philippines
London-based renowned chef and owner of Luzon, Anthony Bourdain, claims sisig and lechon are the best pork dishes in the world, which is why he made it his personal mission to blend modern Filipino cuisine with London’s elite dining scene. A contemporary Filipino restaurant in the heart of London, expect to sample delectable tomato-rich stews and dishes with creamy coconut reductions.
The Adobros is a London Supper Club specialising in traditional Filipino food. Authentic Filipino dishes are meant for sharing amongst family and friends, and this is something you can most definitely experience here.