Filipino food has been slowly gaining traction and popularity lately, and people are starting to realize that there’s more to Pinoy cuisine than just lumpia and pancit. Still, there’s quite a bit of food still left for everyone else to uncover, but in the meantime, let’s slow it down and think back to the time when you would crave any Filipino dish and your Lola would make it right away. It was hard to narrow down just 25 Filipino dishes, but these are the ones that will make you miss home-cooked Filipino food for sure.
25. Casava Cake
The coconut milk and cassava mixture may be heavenly, but the real winner here is the golden-brown top, which is caramelized to give the entire cake a dark, rich flavor.
24. Kare Kare
You’ve tried it from your local Filipino restaurants, but nobody can make it quite as good as your Lola can. How she gets the oxtails so soft and tender in the nutty sauce will forever be a mystery to us all.
This dessert stew has pretty much everything that halo-halo has, except it’s mixed into coconut milk (which is where the term ginataan comes from). Don’t pretend like you don’t save the doughy balls for last.
These donut holes are probably some of the best donut holes you’ll ever have in your lifetime. With crunchy sugar on the outside and chewy dough on the inside, you get the best of both worlds. For your convenience, they’re served on a wooden skewer, so it’s practically a mess-free affair.
If you aren’t lucky enough to live next to a Red Ribbon or Goldilocks, having freshly baked mamon was perhaps one of the most sacred events ever. Craving the spongey, chiffon-like cakes? Make some at home.
Even though you’re tired of lumpia because it’s at every Filipino gathering you’ve ever been to, deep down inside, we all have a secret liking for these iconic eggrolls. When they’re dipped in that sweet chili sauce, it’s quite impossible to eat an entire tray in one sitting.
This quintessential Filipino stew can be made with pretty much any meat, though the most common are chicken and pork. Marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, garlic, and vinegar, the final dish is tangy and slightly spicy.
This dish is traditionally made with chicken and cooked in a ginger-based broth, with either green papayas or chayote squash added in. Have a few bowls the next time you have a fever or cold – it works just as well as a serving of chicken noodle soup.
The good thing about Filipino soups and stews is that they’re pretty much an entire meal in one bowl. This one is no exception, and includes beef, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage in a bone marrow broth. It may take some time to cook, but all that waiting is so worth it.
16. Corned Beef
Unfortunately, the corned beef that’s available in your local grocery store just isn’t the same as Filipino corned beef, which is finely shredded and perfectly seasoned. Waking up to the smell of the meat, chopped onions, and minced garlic in one pan is a memorable experience in itself, but eating it with rice on the side takes the cake.
While it sounds oddly similar to “beef steak” (pronunciation mishap, maybe?), bistek is marinated in soy sauce and lemon juice for a few hours before it is fried with onion rings. The best part as a little kid was helping tenderize the meat with a kitchen hammer, hands down.
While kutsinta is often served with it’s white counterpart, puto, we all know the orange color makes this one more fun to eat. These gelatinous rice cakes are sticky and sweet – the makings of any good dessert.
Biko is yet another sticky rice dish, though this one is flavored with brown sugar and coconut milk, giving you a sugar rush that’ll last for the rest of the day. Sprinkle grated coconut on top for an extra crunch with every bite.
12. Filipino Spaghetti
If you sit and think about it, having hot dogs in your spaghetti may be the most random thing ever, but somehow it just works. Drenched in a sweet tomato sauce and topped with shredded cheese, spaghetti noodles never tasted any better.
11. Leche Flan
You know you’re Filipino when you thought it was called “Leche Plan” and not “Leche Flan.” But darned accents aside, this dish is very similar to other flans around the world, but that doesn’t take away from just how well the smooth custard and rich caramel go together.
If your family is like most Pinoy families, there’s probably a bag of these in the freezer, waiting to be microwaved for your next on-the-go meal. Similar to Chinese pork buns, Siopao is stuffed with saucy meat and steamed to produce a soft and fluffy bread. Try this variation if you want to stock some up in your freezer.
What’s better than a buttery brioche roll? A buttery brioche roll that’s topped with margarine, sugar, and cheese. This combo may be unconventional, but all qualms seem to disappear after one bite.
This soup gets its distinct sour flavor from tamarind, but calamansi (a citrus fruit) juice can also be added for extra pucker. The broth serves as a base for any meat, but the most common ones are pork and shrimp.
The Pinoy version of beef stew can either be sweet or spicy, but nothing can change how yummy the sauce is. Sometimes it’s prepared with goat meat, but if you’re not feeling that adventurous, the beef version is just as good.
6. Pancit Palabok
Plain pancit can get tiring after a while, but palabok takes things to a whole new level by having shrimp-flavored gravy. With various toppings such as crushed chicharron, scallions, and boiled eggs, there’s always something different with each spoonful.
5. Lechon Kawali
This one’s a real treat if you’re a big fan of crunchy food, since the pork skin takes some major jaw power to eat. Still, when it’s dipped in the sawsawan (dip) of your choice, it’s pretty damn good.
Think of it as dessert lumpia – these may look like eggrolls, but they’re stuffed with jackfruit and bananas and coated in melted brown sugar. Dip them in condensed milk or dulce de leche for a real decadent treat.
3. Chicken Afritada
Whether it’s pronounced apritada or afritada, the dish remains a classic either way. The tomato-based stew features a wide range of chopped vegetables, including peas, carrots, potatoes, and bell peppers.
Sisig is spicy, creamy, and crunchy, all in one incredible dish. Pork ears are charred before finely chopped, giving the crunch factor, while calamansi juice, mayo, and chili peppers are tossed in and served on a sizzling plate. And when it seems like it couldn’t get any better, an egg goes right on top, providing your daily dose of #yolkporn.
This Filipino breakfast sausage takes on a sweet flavor that’s akin to caramelized sugar, and it tastes even better when served on with garlic fried rice and a fried egg. The only downside is the iconic longanisa burp, which smells both delightful and awful.