What is Filipino Food?



Filipino food is not Chinese food. If it is, our Adobo (marinated meat) would be steamed chicken with soy sauce. It is neither Spanish food. If it is, we wouldn’t be eating rice like breathing air. Filipino food is not American food. If it is, Jollibee would have  bigger servings. True? If you don’t agree with me, next time you’re in NY try convincing the hotdog vendor that his dogs are not american hotdogs… in fact it is German because that’s where all the sausages come from. Then brace yourself.

Filipino food is filipino food. Adobo was just named adobo by the Spaniards because they can’t name the beast. Kinilaw (raw fish in vinegar and spices) has been with us for thousands of years that when the Japanese witnessed it wiggling on our native bamboo table they attacked Pearl Harbor just to get to us… a pretty smart move I tell you. And Sinigang (fish soup) is definitely a Filipino original because if you ask from what region this fish soup originated, you are definitely promoting a royal rumble, you should have brought a ring with you.

But then what is Filipino food really? I’ll give two points in the meantime.

Firstly, it is food for the crazy. You can’t just eat the salty-sour Dinuguan (blood and guts stew) by itself, you have to eat it with the majestic – Puto (rice cake). There you go, you became beauty and the beast at the same time. You can’t just cook Kare-Kare (tripes and ox tail in peanut sauce) with enough salt to taste, you have to cook it bland and then eat it with the salty Bagoong (shrimp paste) as a condiment. You crazy, woman?

Secondly, it is food for the lazy. Filipino food is made for Juan Tamad… and has a tendency to just put in any ingredient that is conveniently available. Would you believe me? No? I’ll prove my point. Adobo is a dish where you don’t do any cooking at all. You just throw them all together in a pot, put it on the fire, wait for the fruit to fall on the ground and- Voila! It’s cooked! Did you do any cooking? No. Except for putting vinegar in before the whole blob dries up. Ladies and Gents, Juan tamad can now eat Adobo. If you are telling yourself that it is just me exaggerating, stop right now thank you very much, here’s another dish. Bulalo (beef shanks and marrow soup) is a dumper’s food like Adobo. Dump all the meat and bones in the pot and after 3 hours, dump the rest of the vegetables, cook for a little bit and Bob’s your uncle. You dumpster.

Crazy and Lazy could have been your cat and dog’s names but when it comes to cooking, those words mean cutting edge while painless. It’s crazy because it’s bursting with flavors. It’s lazy because it is chill out food. That’s me saying I want to live.

Anthony Bourdain on his recent trip to the Philippines was asking the question, ‘What is Filipino food?’ again and again and I felt so bad that no one can describe to him what we are eating! Somehow in the end, it turned out that we have a food identity crisis. And I wouldn’t even start talking about the Filipino identity. I’ll die of hunger before I can stop talking and start shoving food in my mouth. Don’t you just hate it when you’re supposed to eat and you can’t stop talking?

I’ll stop talking now. Let’s get to work and make adobo. *wink wink*

Start your journey on the History of Filipino food here



Author: Ziggy

Ziggy grew up in the "dirty kitchen" of his grandmother. Literally. He would spend his pre-school days watching her cook crazy Filipino food. His love for food set him up in a journey through the kitchens of the Philippines to chef-swearing laden restaurants of Melbourne where he has worked mainly as a dishwasher, stockist, searcher of missing ingredients, deep frier of everything, arranger of antipasti on a supposed to be chopping board, kitchen cart surfer, emergency pastry chef, take-the-pans-we're-on-a-ciggy-break, chefs' cook of take home food, salad scientist and quite a number of mundane everyday things in the kitchen. Are you still reading this? He has quit that 1pm to 3am job now that he has learned to write. thus this site came to existence.

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  1. Opening comment – humourous, yet shouts truth!
    I love the obvious use of filipino terms/names/places and then the quite unique australation – “Bob’s your uncle” nice blend of culture, like the food.
    I think you should mention something about the ammount of food eaten and the frequency that it is eaten (quite a shock for the unsuspecting tourist). How filipinos stay so slim is boggling to me.

  2. Yes! That too! Filipinos eat at least 5 times a day with in-between naps of course. Island life all the way. I think somebody should make a Filipino diet regime because we eat a lot of food all around the clock and still we emerge looking perfectly toned. Hmmm… sounds like a plan.

  3. Love the site!

    Keep it up man!

  4. Thanks for the head’s up on your new site. You’re already off to a great start! I love the look, love the photos and definitely the witty but authoritative writing.

    I will add you to my blogroll, and yes, I would be honored if you link to my food blog as well. Most of my Filipino recipes are bastardized, I’m ashamed to say, but it works for us :) and yeah, if you want to use any of them, you’re welcome to use them. Just link back.

    See you around!

  5. Thanks Jean! Yup. I’m still having troubles fixing the links though. Hopefully it will be up by the end of the weekend. And don’t you worry about your bastardized recipes, 80% of Filipino dishes are anyway.

    *starts counting in Spanish*


  7. @Yaravatch something tells me that someone’s paying you up. nevertheless, i am flattered in and out. thank you :)

  8. hahaha! basky, this is so funny yet full of groundbreaking facts! uhm, what is filipino food really? whew! noticing me wiping sweat from my forehead because I myself, while reading this, can’t answer the question directly! all I know is masarap kumain, hahaha! :p nice one! :)

  9. I stumbled upon your blog from an FB link of a friend. Love the humor and how you opted not to “sugar-coat” what Pinoy food is about. On the diet regimen, don’t forget to include that rice is also merienda with all the kakanin and whatnot. :)

  10. i’m posting your blog on my facebook if you dont mind???

  11. @rakista post everything :) the main goal of this website is to let people know about Filipino food as it is yet an under-discovered palate. too many times I’ve been to multicultural gatherings and people think we’re eating with chopsticks. They think we’re just a bunch of gooks on a strict diet of noodles and fried rice. Not.

    @nikki still working on the diet. It’ll beat Atkinson to a pulp.

    @ronnie see? What really is Filipino food?

  12. OK this is coming from a white guy who loves all types of food and lived in many counties and loves cultural foods.

    To me filipino foods is an explosion of flavors and taists. Not really chinese, not really Japanes or Korean, or Thai, or even Vietanmes or malasian. It have its own unique taist and styles. To me it depands on what part of the Philippine you go to and eat in. I have been all over the Pilippines and have eaten so many foods I can say as for as many diffrents Filipino languages there are, there are diffrent foods.

    Lets start with alot of people favorite food. Adobo. It can be chicken(Manuk)Pork(Baboy) or even some other types of meets that people would not eat becouse it is not our culture to eat thoes meats but still. Every’s adobo in every part of the Philippines is so diffrent. Eat Adobo in manila it is the most basic kind where it is has vinager and taist great but go to anouther place it is sweet and anouther it is spicy( I love spicy).

    Pancit(Everyones Favorite) I love it so much and there is even I think more then 4 to 8 types with diffrents noodles and taists. some are soupy, some are dry some are spicy again my favort type.just so many

    and the old favorite that everyone loves and 4 to 6 makes a great meal Lumpia. again depands on where you live in the Philippines and the flavors and taist different from place to place.

    I think asking what filipino food is is to hard. To many cultures and taist have been introduced and they have there own special flovores that are clearly not filipino and clearly are filipino at the same time.
    Alot of you might think I am full of it and ok I am full of it and yes it is Filipino food since i am married to a filipina..LOL

    no matter what filipino food is it is good and to enjoy all the flavore is important and fun to do.
    LOve it or hate it Filipino foods are here to stay and it is always changing for the best.

    Enjoy while you can beciouse one day your favorite filipino Dish can change again.
    God bless everyone

  13. @michael I think it is not only Filipino food that is quite hard to put a strict line on or give a distinct separation from the food of the world, specially now that infusing different cuisines are everywhere. As i have mentioned above, Yanks have the hotdogs (God bless America for it) but technically it is a sausage, and first historical recordings of sausages are from the Chinese and Greeks. But then again, Filipino food is Filipino food and you will know it is IT. Very well said sir. You are pretty fly for a white guy.

  14. Filipino food is unique and awesome!!!!

  15. Filipino food is something that is basically oriental but has a definite spanish twist added to it. And, vice versa.

  16. Filipino food is a mixture of every little bit from spanish and chinese that we invented into our own recipe that suites pur taste better, that we enjoy cooking and eating..

  17. …after reading your blog i got confused and i don’t know what to answer to that question..hehe all i know is that Spanish has a great influenced to Filipino when it comes to food..

  18. Wow Filipino foods…What can I share?

    Growing up in Hawaii, I did not like Filipino foods. As a child, I thouight Filipino foods were just different types of vegetable dishes. Dishes that contained calamungay, bitter melon, and mungo beans killed my appetite.

    I also thought Filipinos had weird meat dishes. I refused to eat dinuguan, kaldereta, and pinapaitan. Knowing the meat was cooked with blood, came from a goat, or cooked in bile with different guts grossed me out.

    Yet I was forced to eat or starve. As I grew up, I aquired the taste for these dishes. Now, I love all kinds of Filipino dishes. I love to cook pinakbet, my favorite vegetable dish. As for kaldereta, the goat does not have a chance.

    I feel Filipino food is Filipino food. It has a unique taste, not your typical Asian or Spanish flavors. However, some dishes like pancit and empanada are definetly influenced by the respective cultures. Eat it with a spoon and a fork…best yet, just eat with your hands!!! Mmm…Sarap!!!

  19. Hats off to you Sir Sig, for an article well-written. You named some great dishes that we proud Filipinos are uniquely known for—naming a few of my favs!!! I am an american born filipina, know what I know about the culture from my parents. While all my american friends were eating fried chicken and spaghetti, I grew up on dried fish, bagaoong and rice. I now have american-born children of my own, but they are all familiar with our filipino fare. There is nothing that says home to me more than fish sauce, oxtails and goat meat. Thank you thank you thank you for your tribute!

  20. during the “dampa” part, Filipino food (and Filipino/Philippines itself) was described as a “melting pot”.. a culmination of different dishes and taste that PWNED!! =P

    You nailed it the way Weird Al nailed Star Wars’ Episode 1 synopsis to the tune of “American Pie”. There is tightness in your salad of interesting trivia. Keep it coming!
    It makes me think though, do we smell the way we smell to other nationalities because of the dishes we dish out? A friend, who has had the chance to room in with other nationalities in the course of her academic quests,has been getting feedback that Filipinos smell “fishy”.

  22. Wow, Filipino food is still really new to me and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot about it from your BLOG. By the way, I’ve link you up!! Cheers!

  23. thanks for all the kudoses and drunkin’ comments.

    @randy one aim of this website is to put a distinctive taste to Filipino food (I don’t know if we can do that) compared to other asian cuisines

    @michele you very well should let your cultural heritage live on. it’s sad to see that there are Filipinos abroad that forsake their roots. i hate them for it. i want to throw them to cannibals.

    @grafton fishy?? you say that to a Filipina and you’ll be slapped by a huge trout. and on that note… Filipinas smell reaaaaalllyyy pretty.

    @tintin we will adopt you. the pictures in your blog are lovely. and yes please link me up :)

  24. Hi…for me is just food for my soul… a taste and flavor that makes me feel at home, a feeling of family, heritage and happinnes I can no longer enjoy very often…perhaps you don´t understand but I am a son of a filipina and a Spaniard…born and raised in South America and married to a spanish woman…never set foot on the Philippines… my mother is now old and sick…cooks very randomly… so whenever she does it is a luxury and joy to me and my brothers… (all male and bad cooks, each with his own home and wife of different background).

  25. Ahuuuu so very cleverly composed!!!

    …but how about the desserts? XD… I mean, no meal would be complete without it (or so I think).

    So yeah, Filipino Food does depend ALOT on rice.

  26. I love Filipino people as I love everyone else that comes my way. My Filipino friend make lumpias, pancit, chicken adobe and I’ve always loved it and love it. except for the fish :-)

  27. Site like this make me hungry. Nice site..

    More power!

  28. Tristan, i dont need recipes please send me ready to eat foods, gutom na ko. Best regards and keep up your good work, I miss your family take care.

  29. “Filipino food is filipino food.”


  30. steeg kakagutom amp!

    post some recipes of pulutan pare. da best yun!

    harrr \m/

  31. @carlo well you are in the right site my friend, but do you want to learn how to cook?

    @pongkoy you’re quite as clever as I am asking me about desserts. sshhh!

    @zaida except for the fish? the fish??? you crazy woman?

    @tito rolan I saw you on TV! hahahaha!

  32. hardmaks kas!

  33. Filipino food is excellent..a reflection of the people! I just returned from the Philippines to the USA..incredible people… food..great Christian churches. Amen for the Philippines, America’s best friend!

  34. I live here and the food is not good. I guess it is very required! Lol try the worlds food and then tell me the food here is good, seriously!

  35. Where do you live Douglas? And why do you have such poor cooks around you? hahaha! just kidding. Why do you say the food is not good though?

  36. Filipino food is any food made by a Filipino. As a Filipino-American, I throw in a spoonful of bagoong in my chili. Does that make chili Filipino food? Heck yeah, especially when I serve it with rice.


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