Philippine Popular Foods and Favorite Desserts

Philippine cuisine is an intriguing blend of Malay, Spanish and Chinese influences. Most Filipinos eat rice three times a day. A foreign visitor may sample fried rice and longaniza (native sausage) with an egg done sunny-side up for breakfast. The meal usually includes salted and dried fish, accompanied by tomatoes and patis (fish sauce). During mealtimes and before the food is served, sauce dishes are brought to the table. Filipinos automatically reach for the vinegar bottle with hot chili, or the soy sauce, which is mixed with calamansi (small native limes, which also make a refreshing juice.) Ihaw-ihaw (grilled items) are good with crushed garlic, vinegar and chili. Meals are often prefaced by sinigang, a clear broth slightly soured with green tamarind and prepared with bangus (milkfish) or shrimp.
Some typical Philippine dishes worth trying are chicken tinola and pancit molo, dumplings of pork, chicken and mushrooms cooked in a broth. Adobo is pork or chicken in small pieces, simmered in a light vinegar with garlic and spices. Kinilaw is fish marinated in a garlic and chili vinaigrette with raw onions. Lechon, a typical fiesta dish, is suckling pig stuffed with tamarind leaves and roasted in an open pit over heated coals until the skin is crackling and the meat tender; it is generally served with liver sauce. Sinanglay, another festive dish, is fish or crab with hot pepper wrapped in chinese cabbage, and cooked in coconut milk.
Other Filipino favorites include eggroll-like lumpia, a salad of heart-of-palm, pork and shrimp wrapped in a tissue paper-thin crepe and served with garlic and soy sauce, and kare-kare, a rich mixture of oxtail, knuckles and tripe, stewed with vegetables in peanut sauce and served with bagoong, a fish-based sauce.
Dessert puddings are generally made with coconut milk. Bibingka consists of ground rice, sugar and coconut milk, baked in a clay oven and topped with fresh and salted duck egg. Guinatan is a coco-pudding served with lashings of coconut creme. Ice cream comes in a variety of exotic flavors such as nangka (jackfruit), ube, macapuno or buko (coconut), mango and even queso (cheese), in addition to vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.