Maayong gabi-i from the Philippines!
Another month has come and gone and once again I find myself in shock at how fast time is going. The good news is that things have been starting to pick up at site, work wise. I’ve been going with our local university to do habitat assessments of our artificial and natural reefs, went to a giant clam training two weeks ago, I had my project (FINALLY) approved to do a training of trainers for science teachers, people from Rutgers University have come to do studies on clown fish (apparently they come every year) and I’m hoping to join them on some of their trips and learn some new skills. On a personal note, I’m learning fish and other creature species from the Pacific, I’m understanding more of our local language, I’m studying for the GRE and also starting to research grad schools (I know I’m jumping the gun on this but with the free time I have might as well make use of it).
I also recently bought myself a little cooking oven and I’m trying all sorts of new recipes (many including avocados). And while we’re on the subject of food, I thought I’d make this blog post about some of the traditional foods of the Philippines. I can’t say I’ve tried all of these, sorry I’m not very adventurous with food, bit I have encountered them all at one point or another.
I’ve talked about this bad boy a couple times because I’ve encountered it many times since I’ve been here. Lechon is a whole pig that is skewered with a stick and then roasted over a fire. It is served whole and people will carve it out as they eat it. All of the animal is eaten, and I mean ALL of it, ears and all. Lechon is actually originally Spanish and is served here because of the huge Spanish influence from years of colonization. This dish of course is very special and you will usually only see it at special occasions like birthdays and fiestas. I’ve tried this a couple of times but it’s not really my cup of tea, but many people like it so don’t take my word for it!
One that I am terrified of and actually have tried once. Of course, the one time I tried it I was in a very dark place so I ate it without looking at it and it wasn’t that bad. Anyways, balut is a developing bird embryo (usually duck or chicken) that is boiled and eaten from the shell (like a hard boiled egg). When you buy these, usually sold as Philippino street food, you can choose how developed you want your balut to be. Generally, they are between 14 and 21 days, that being said, when you eat more developed forms of it you run the risk, at least it’s a risk in my eyes, of encountering beaks, bones and feathers. To be fair when I tried it, it tasted like a normal hard boiled egg. I think my aversion to it comes more from my mind just feeling weird about eating a baby chick
I really like this one, and is usually my go to food at Philippine functions. Pancit are rice noodles fried with soy sauce, patis (fish sauce), some variation of sliced meat and chopped vegetables. The fish sauce and meat are optional, so when I cook I leave those out. Pancit is usually served at events like meetings, birthdays and fiestas. Pancit are actually originally a Chinese food but were introduced to the Philippines and have since been adopted as local cuisine
This food (and the next one) might possibly be my favorite. Of course they’re both sweet and include one of my favorite fruits – bananas. I know it’s lame for bananas to be my favorite fruits but I don’t care cause they’re good and you can make so many good things with them! Turron is a sliced banana rolled in sugar and then wrapped in spring roll wrapper and fried. You can also add jackfruit to it in addition to the banana. It is quite simply amazing, and sometimes because I’m so daring, I will make it with chocolate in the middle or I will dip it in Nutella if I have it handy.
5. Banana Cue
This is another of my favorites here and it also involved bananas. Banana cue is a deep fried banana coated in caramelized brown sugar. The banana cue is usually skewered on a bamboo stick and sold as street food. The skewer is just for ease of serving and eating but the actual banana cue is not cooked on the skewer.
Yet another food that is of Chinese origin. It involves a lumpia wrapper (which is a very thin crepe like pastry skin) filled with vegetables and sometimes meat or seafood and can be served either deep fried or fresh (aka unfried). Lumpias are also one of my go to foods and can often be found at social gatherings.
These are weird and have a funny name. I haven’t been adventurous enough to eat this one but my coworkers eat it pretty often. Adidas are just the feet of the chicken which are cooked and eaten. After the outer layer of skin is removed, the edible part is exposed which consists of skin and tendons. Since it’s mostly skin, and no muscle, it has a very different texture to the rest of the chicken; best described as gelatinous.
Tinola is a soup consisting of chicken, wedges of sayote (aka chayote) and malunggay (aka moringa) leaves in broth flavored with ginger, onions and fish sauce. Of course like with many other dishes, the chicken can be replaced for fish or pork.
9. Manok Adobo
I say manok (chicken) adobo because this is the most popular meat involved with this dish but other meats, seafood or vegetables can also be used instead. The meat or vegetables are marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic which is browned in oil and simmered in the marinade. This dish is really good to eat with rice because it has a nice juicy liquid that will mix very nicely with rice
I saved the best for last because rice is the most common dish you will find in the Philippines! Although it’s not really a standalone dish, you will find rice is present at every meal on every day of the year.
So as you can see the food is varied and by no means have I talked about all the foods in the Philippines but these are just some of the ones I have encountered and dared to, or not, to eat. Some western foods are also common, but not without the classic Philippino twist. For example, spaghetti with tomato sauce is common at birthdays (in fact its pretty much exclusively eaten at birthdays) BUT filippinos add sugar to it making it a sweet spaghetti.
I hope you have enjoyed and I encourage you, if you ever get the chance, to try these if you encounter them. I’m not a daring eater and I’ve tried most of these, and I’m glad I have!
Once again thanks for reading kitakits!