10 Favorite Filipino Food of a Non-Pinoy

‘Tis the season to be chubby fa la la la la la la…

And that’s true whenever I go home to the Philippines especially during the holidays — Christmas and new year. The Filipinos are noted to celebrate Christmas the longest and every celebration involves food, lots of food. So, it is the season to be chubby that many would try to shed the calories off after the new year sets in.

Since this prose is about food, Filipino cuisine to be specific, I asked my best buddy, Andreas, who recently came to the country for a visit, to name his ten favorite Pinoy food. And here they are, in no particular order:

1. Crispy Pata

Pork leg (pata) boiled for at least an hour, ‘dried’ overnight, and deep fried ’til crispy on the outside and tender inside. Preferred dipped in soy sauce-vinegar mixture with calamansi juice, shallots, black pepper, and chili peppers, crispy pata is a favorite during special occasions.

Crispy pata at Bubble’s, Lucena City

2. Tocino

Cured pork or chicken, on the sweet side, and yummy; often with garlic fried rice (sinangag) and sunny side up (itlog), tosilog for short.

Tocilog at Pancake House

3. Bistek Tagalog

Pinoy-style beefsteak, pan-grilled beef slices in soy sauce, onions, and black pepper. People of Quezon Province prefer it drizzled with calamansi juice.

Bistek Tagalog, Bag of Beans, Tagaytay City

4. Longganisa

Filipino sausages. My friend prefers the garlicky Lucban longganisa dipped in vinegar and the sweeter Pampanga longganisa. Also goes with garlic fried rice and fried egg, known as longsilog.

Longsilog, Makati City

5. Pansit

Stir-fried noodles. Pansit Lucban, chami of Lucena City, pansit canton, and miki bihon are some of the popular variants.

Pansit Canton, stir-fried noodles Canton-style, ChowKing

6. Halo-halo

Shaved ice dessert with bananas, jackfruit, jellies, red beans, kidney beans, nata de coco, kaong, and whatever one desires, topped with leche flan, ube halaya, pinipig, and ube ice cream, and with evaporated milk. Halo-halo (literally, mix) is a truly Filipino dessert.

Halo-halo, ChowKing

7. Ube Halaya

A Filipino dessert that is making waves globally. It’s purple yam cooked (while mixing continuously) for hours in sweetened milk to a creamy texture. Eaten as it is or used in other desserts, it’s a Pinoy favorite. And nowhere else can you find a good ube halaya than in the Philippines.

8. Ube Cheesecake

Purple yam-flavored cheesecake.

Ube cheesecake, Coffee Project, Mandaluyong City

9. Bagnet

An Ilocano fare, pork belly is boiled for 45 minutes to an hour, left to ‘dry’ for at least an hour, then deep fried until tender and crispy.

Hiro’s Kitchen’s first attempt at cooking bagnet. Hiro’s is the author’s kitchen.

10. Adobo

The unofficial national Pinoy food. The ambassador of Philippine cuisine. Pork, or chicken, or a mix of both, stewed in vinegar, soy sauce, lots of garlic, bay leaf, and peppercorns. No two adobos are the same. Every province, city, town, and kitchen have different variations of the adobo. Dry or wet. Sweet or spicy. With liver, turmeric, or coconut cream. Light or dark in color. And Andreas’ favorite adobo is my version!

Adobong baboy ramo (wild boar), Naimas, Mandaluyong City
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