If you’re a tourist traveling to another country, hungry while going around getting to know different places, food is thought more often than someone important left in your home country.
But are you going to eat similar foods with familiar tastes you used to eat back home?
Travelling is exploring, the sights fulfill your vision curiosity, the different language spikes your auditory curiosity, the new temperature is slowly adapted by your dermal curiosity, but what about your olfactory or smell and taste curiosity?
If you’re a Filipino and have been out of the country for quite a while, surely this list of home-cooked dishes will make you want to come back.
Whether you’re a tourist or out-of-the-country Filipino national, here are famous home-made Filipino dishes to fulfill your memories and senses:
10. Ginisang Munggo / Ginataang Munggo
If beans is not one of the food you need to cross out for health issues, then this is a must-try. Though many say it’s not so good in taste and never gained popularity even like the balut, maybe because the taste is not so rich which is almost bland. The Ginataan version is recommended because the coconut milk adds more texture to the bland flavor. This munggo recipe is commonly served in households but rarely sold even in Filipino restaurants. It’s not only cheap, it’s a great food for the growing ones in the family too.
Main ingredients: Munggo beans and some cubes or strips of meat
9. Adobong Pusit (Adobo Squid)
When cooking a squid, the ink sac is always removed by skillful chefs. However, our mothers may have been not this skilled when they prepared once abundant fresh squids. Because of this untrained way of cooking the squid, the Adobong pusit was made. But that’s not a fact, just made it up. Still, thanks to our mothers for giving us this weird but fun to look at dish, not to mention the good taste!
To a foreign eye, it looks horrible because of the black liquid, but it sure is appetizing to us.
Main ingredients: Fresh squid
Pinakbet is from the word “pinakebbet” in Ilocano which means “shrunk” or “shriveled”. If the Chinese have their chop suey, Filipinos have their Pinakbet.
These are mainly made from native vegetables that were once grown in almost anybody’s backyard that is why, this may not be as prestigious as the lechon, but it’s a humble and healthy recipe for the entire family.
Many native restaurants are serving this dish and they have different versions, the local fave is one with bagoong (shrimp paste) and peanut butter.
Main ingredients: eggplant, bitter melon, string beans, pumpkin and other optional vegetables
Whether fish, pork, shrimp, or chicken, this sour broth is a popular dinner dish. It’s good to eat during dinner because the hot and savory soup feels good to sip on a cool night. Especially coming home on a rainy evening for dinner after work, this soup relieves all the tensions and will make you forget about unfinished paperwork and the bad weather for a moment. Aside from its sour taste due to the tamarind or iba/kamias (bilimbi) as an ingredient, the hot soup has a tinge of spiciness that adds joy and warmth in a family dinner.
It may sound like an exaggeration, but I bet many office workers would agree.
Main ingredients: Meat, tamarind/bilimbi/sinigang powder, tomato, chili finger
6. Dinuguan (pork blood and offal stew)
If the word “offal” will make other nationalities’ stomachs churn, not to people living in places where food is regarded as blessings. In the Philippines, eating time is always thanksgiving time, so no matter what meat parts the food came from, Filipinos will always be thankful for having something to eat. That was an important lesson taught by grandparents and parents to children who were so picky with food. This is because our grandparents have lived a tough time with food during the war, thus, the value has been passed from generations.
So, if you have the guts to read further about the dinuguan now, let me add that it’s not only made from different internal pork organs, but the whole dish is drenched in pig’s blood that gives the stew it’s thick texture and unforgettable flavor.
Main ingredients: pig blood, pork internal organs – lungs, kidneys, intestines, ears, heart and snout
5. Tinolang Manok
There is no English term for “Tinola”, though the dish is obviously a chicken soup, the broth has a simpler look compared to other nation’s. But just like other chicken soups, this is sometimes a comfort food to many Filipinos. The simple look also gives a simple taste. Maybe this simple taste makes it a comfort food because it eliminates all the other complex tastes we’ve had. Just like drinking too many types of juices or sodas, we often miss the simple cold water.
But what makes this simple dish special, is because it has lemon grass for aroma, malunggay (moringa) or kangkong (water spinach) and chunks of chayote for nutrients. Aside from the missing carbs, this simple dish is more than enough to compensate for the protein and nutrition needs, thus often served to those having the flu.
4. Bulalo (Beef Soup)
Another option for tinolang manok is nilagang baka. It’s more complex though because it has to be cooked in a slow fire for hours. What’s not so good about it is the grease content from the beef fat, but is a good meal for family and friends to share with. Nevertheless, Filipinos love this dish, see the noodle racks in the supermarkets, you will see that almost all Philippine noodle brands have this flavor.
Main ingredients: beef shank, chinese cabbage