foods 111315 top-5-filipino-dishes

The food of the Philippines is quite the oddity in the culinary world. Filipino cuisine does not seem to want to follow the same rules as any other Southeast Asian country yet it seems to capture all of the essence of Asia's culinary traditions.

To the untrained eye Filipino food may seem a bit strange altogether, it’s strange even for me and I grew up eating the stuff. I was born and raised on these Islands, but I was fortunate enough to have been educated in Culinary Arts from Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas and have experienced a humungous spectrum of flavors from nearly every continent. Yet even though I've had the privilege to dine in restaurants that have won the highest Michelin awards, it is still the flavors and aromas from my homeland that excite my taste buds the most. Having said all this, it doesn't take a genius to figure out what my favorite food may be – you guessed it! Filipino! In this article I would like to present my top 5 favorite Filipino dishes.

Before I begin let’s talk a little bit about what Filipino food is. Philippine cuisine is a mixture of countless foreign and local influences. Our style of cooking, whether we like to admit it or not, is fusion. We chefs dread the word fusion because of its lack of authenticity. Our country has been slammed by wave after wave of foods and cultures ranging from early Malay settlers, Arabian and Chinese traders, not to mention American cuisine. But the strongest culinary influence would have to be given to Spain who colonized the Philippines for almost 400 years. It was the Spanish colonizers who introduced the savory items like Garlic, Onion, and Tomatoes to the Filipino palate. This trifecta is one of the reasons our food is so unique from the rest of Asia and the world.

It really is quite a challenge to compose a list of only 5 favorite dishes when the selection is so huge. I enjoy eating an array of local delicacies from the more daring foods such as Dinuguan, and Balut to light and sweet Filipino desserts like Biko and Bibinka. With this in mind I will cautiously list my top 5:

 5. Kare Kare

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A stew composed of peanut sauce, variety of vegetables like eggplant, string beans, pechay/bok choy, ox tail, and tripe (stomach lining from a cow). This comfort food is normally served alongside some bagoong or shrimp paste and is a favorite all over the country.

 4. Crispy Pata

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Pata or Pig knuckles would surely make anyone’s top 5 list. This scrumptious dish is made by simmering the hoof whole for several hours until it is absolutely tender. It is then deep fried and served very crispy. It is usually accompanied with a very simple yet flavorful ‘sawsawan’ or dipping sauce. The sauce usually only consists of soy sauce, vinegar, onion and a chili pepper or two.

 3. Lumpia

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Lumpia is the perfect finger food appetizers for any occasion. This is our version of spring rolls. This dish clearly expresses its Chinese influence but we love lumpia so much that we have invented so many different versions such as Lumpia Shanghai, Ubod, Sariwa etc..

 2. Adobo

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It was a toss-up choosing between my second favorite dish and my all-time favorite dish. I picked Adobo as second, even though many people might consider this to be their number 1. Adobo is a dish inspired by Spain. Adobo literally means sauce or dressing in the Spanish language. The method is simple - soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaf, garlic, peppercorns and your choice of pork or chicken (or both). Let that simmer for a couple of hours or until the meat is tender and you’ve got what some folks would consider the national dish of the Philippines.

 1. Lechon

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I picked Lechon as my number 1 for several reasons. Amongst the variety of culinary treats the Philippines has to offer, nothing stands out quite like a pig roasted slowly over an open fire. Every region has their own style of cooking a lechon but all methods seem to identically captivate its audience of eaters. With its perfectly cooked golden brown, almost red-ish tint, this beautifully prepared delicacy is popular and can be seen at nearly every occasion, banquet, event, or fiesta that happens in the country.

So there we have it, my Top 5 Favorite Filipino Dishes. I hope you have as much fun reading as I have had sharing - yet it does no justice when you consider our archipelago consists of over 7,000 individual Islands, most of which have their own unique foods, styles, and flavors. It would be impossible to list all my favorite dishes in one short article, but if I forgot to mention your favorite Filipino dish please feel free to share in the comment box below.

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