While the Philippines certainly aren’t known for their food, below are 7 Pinoy dishes that stand out from my month in the country, and one that I absolutely would not try (it’s a duck fetus – scroll the bottom to see Bourdain eat it).
1. Halo-halo! – it’s #1 not for the taste but for the joy people get just saying the name. It might be impossible to pronounce it properly without smiling. I’m serious – I heard it spoken dozens of times in my month in the Philippines, and each time I’d see a wider smile than the last. I really wanted to like it! Despite the welcomed enthusiasm, I found it to be disappointingly not that tasty.
What’s in halo-halo? The name translates in english to “mix-mix” and it’s fitting. It’s always made of shaved ice, evaporated milk, and sugar, and then it appears to be whatever they have to throw in. Red beans, coconut gel, jackfruit, tapioca, corn flakes, jelly beans, yams, plantains caramelized in sugar…yeah throw it in!
You may remember Halo-halo! from Top Chef:
Halo-halo was featured as a Quickfire Challenge dish in the seventh episode of the fourth season of reality television series Top Chef. The halo-halo, which featured avocado, mango, kiwi and nuts, was prepared by Filipino-American contestant Dale Talde and named as one of the top three Quickfire Challenge dishes by guest judge Johnny Iuzzini of Jean-Georges. [wikipedia]
2. Kare-Kare - classic Pinoy dish featuring oxtail and vegetables cooked in a thick peanut sauce. Yum!
3. Chicken Adobo / Pork Adobo - a simple yet reliably delicious Filipino staple. It’s chicken or pork (or both!) braised in garlic, vinegar, oil, soy sauce. Tastes better than it looks!
The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook blog says that every Filipino family has their own adobo recipe, and fortunately they share a few variations.
4. Puchero, which translates to stew pot, is a dish with beef in bananas and tomato sauce:
photo credit and Recipe here
5. Longganisa – Filipino sausage, similar to chorizo:
6. Hamonado - pork sweetened in pineapple sauce:
7. Beef Kaldereta - another simple dish – it’s beef (often goat shoulders!) in a tomato sauce stew:
And one that I most certainly did NOT eat -
Balut are duck eggs that have been incubated until the fetus is all feathery and beaky, and then boiled. I’m told you can taste the feathers. That’s right – it’s a duck fetus! ewwwh! Check out my full post on Balut, where I explain what it is, how it’s prepared, and show videos of people enjoying it for the first time.
You may remember Anthony Bourdain trying Balut:
Bonus – this is mostly unrelated to the 7 dish list above, but…
Which is your favorite Filipino dish?