A Taste of Filipino Recipe at Christmas time in the Philippines

Philippine food and culture have distinct mixes of the East and the West.

You are in the Philippines because you want to see its beauty, experience culture and tradition of the local people and have a taste of the best Filipino dishes.

Philippine cuisine was greatly influenced by the American especially the names of the dish. Asian countries like China, India and other Southeast Asian countries has contributed to how the Philippine food is prepared and evolved throughout time.

Like some Asian countries, rice is the Philippines' staple food. It is always part of the meal whether it is homemade, or dining in a feast or holiday season. In any occasion, meals are generally served with rice.

Filipinos typically accompany their meals with complementing sauces, spices and condiments. It is common for each diner to put his preferred sauce, spice, or condiment in his own plate. Popular ones used in a meal include: Patis (fermented fish sauce) or soy sauce (usually blended with calamansi, a green Philippine citrus fruit similar to lemon); native vinegar; and alamang (cream-style shrimp paste).

I identified some of the Filipino dishes that you must try while in the Philippines at Christmas time, festivals or important events. I guarantee the following are the best and can be found in most local dining table.

Adobo (Chicken or Pork)
The signature Filipino dish adobo used pork or chicken cooked in oil, vinegar, pepper, bay leaf and soy sauce. In some cases, dried banana blossoms is added for a distinct aroma and sweetness. It is one of the most popular Filipino dishes commonly prepared in both Philippine homes and restaurants.

Menudo (Pork)
Menudo is  Filipino meat stew. It is made of sliced pork, calves' liver, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables that are cooked in tomato sauce. Aside from its usual presence in Filipino restaurant menus, menudo is also a popular dish served during celebrations such as fiesta, birthday parties and Christmas season.

Lechon (Pork)
Lechon is a famous treat during local Philippine celebrations and gatherings. Its presence provides grandness to the occasion. This charcoal-roasted suckling pig has a pale and tender meat. It is traditionally cooked whole until its skin forms a hard brown crust. The skin is crispy and can be used for making pork rinds.

Sinigang (Pork or Beef or Shrimp)

Filipinos show distinct preferences for sour and salty flavours especially with soups. The must-try soup sinigang is characterized by its endearingly sour flavour. It is made of lightly broiled sour stock made out of tamarind, guava or calamansi. The meat used for sinigang can be pork, fish and shrimp. The vegetables such as gabi (taro corms), kangkong (water spinach), labanos (radish), sitaw (string beans), eggplant, onion, chili and tomatoes added to the stock and the mix is appropriately brought to a boil.

Lumpia (Beef or Chicken or Pork or Shrimp)
The Filipino lumpia is similar to a spring roll. Each piece is filled with succulent garlic-slathered pork, chicken, beef, shrimp or a combination of them, along with finely-cut vegetable fillings wrapped in a small roll of lumpia paper. It is either steamed or fried, then dipped in a citrus or sweet and sour sauce before eating.

Bistek (Beef)
Derived from the English words 'beef steak', bistek uses onions, strips of sirloin beef, soy sauce and calamansi to create a saucy and slow-cooked Filipino-style beef steak.

Lechong Manok (Roast Barbeque Chicken)
Lechong Manok is prepared by mixing onion, garlic, calamansi juice, fish sauce, salt, black pepper and brown sugar to marinate overnight. It is then roasted in a home kitchen or over a fire.

Kare Kare (Pork or Beef)
Kare Kare is a Philippine slow-cooked stew complemented with a thick savoury peanut sauce. It is usually made from a variation base of stewed oxtail, pork hocks, beef stew meat and occasionally offal or tripe. Kare kare can also be prepared with seafood or vegetables and served with shrimp paste to enhance its taste.

Dinuguan (Pork)
A Filipino stew made of pork meat cooked in pig's blood, vinegar and spices. Offal parts are traditionally used in this rich and spicy dish. Dinuguan is best served with steamed rice or puto.

Bulalo (Beef)
A beef dish or commonly known as beef shank soup, is famous in Southern Luzon region, particularly in Batangas. It is prepared by cooking shanks and marrow bones until it melted into the clear broth. It is usually cooked with corn and pechay.

The popularity of these Filipino dishes made it known all over the world and are widely offered in most Filipino community gatherings and events. Ask your non-Filipino friend abroad which of the Philippine dishes they have tasted and liked. Without a second thought, they will name our #1 dish Adobo, for sure.

From the desk of: 
Freddie Miranda
A blogger and a Canada-based freelance writer. He shares the value of his travel experiences and discoveries with his friends and fellow travellers. Share your passion, join and visit him. Send a message @ fromatravellersdesk(at)gmail(dot)com.

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