All Things Asian Event Post: 04.12.2012 – Filipino Food – Main Meals

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez

All Things Asian: April 2-16

Zara’s All Things Asian Post:

Filipino Food: Main Meals

The blogs: That Hapa Chick; Live, Laugh, I Love Books; and My Words Ate Me are hosting the All Things Asian Event featuring guest posts about anything and everything about the Asian culture!

My guest post blogging interview will be featured on one of the host blogs on April 13.

But, until then, each and every day, a guest post will be featured until April 16, 2012, so be sure to drop by and visit the hosting blogs! Just click on the All Things Asian button above that links to the host blog.


As for me, I couldn’t pass up the chance to post a few articles as part of the All Things Asian Event on my own blog, alongside this important event because quite simply put: I’m Asian! And I’m especially honoured and driven to share the beauty of Asia with my readers to foster awareness, community, and inclusivity—all things that are especially important to me.


I’m a voracious eater as much as I am a voracious reader! That said, I have good reason to be since I was raised, even as a Balikbayan, to eat and enjoy Filipino food! Food in itself is a wonderful indication of the flavour of a culture.

Filipinos are a food-centred people with a hospitality that is integral to their sensibility.

When visitors come to a Filipino household, food and drink is most commonly offered as a sign of welcome and hospitality. The amount of food, variety, and care put in its preparation and presentation is important in signalling the importance of the guest(s) and the visitation.

A Filipino of family of four may sit down at a table for dinner and have a pot of rice and a main dish, along with side dishes set at the table.

If there is a gathering, food is more likely than not to be present and in the form of a buffet-style or potluck.

When attending parties, it is also correct for guests to bring a dish or a dessert as an offering. This is much like the equivalent to a guest bringing a bottle of wine to a North American style dinner party.

Though dishes differ and range from region to region, and preferences differ from dialect to dialect, these dishes of choice are on the top of my yum-yum list!


Kanin (white rice) is a staple of the Philippines and for the Filipino. It is the equivalent of bread to the North American and the tortilla to the Latino (I can say this with confidence since I’m married to a man from El Salvador!). Rice is the foundation of most Filipino foods and desserts and is commonly eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Kanin (white rice).


Pancit is the term used to refer to a Filipino noodle dish of varying types, which was introduced to the Philippines by the Chinese and adopted into Filipino cuisine. The word derives from the Hokkien pian i sit, which means something conveniently cooked fast.

Though it is a common dish in the Filipino palette, it is a significant one that is especially cooked, presented, and eaten at birthday celebrations on account that the length of the noodles represent long life and good health. This is a well-practiced custom for the Filipino family. I have yet to attend a Filipino birthday celebration without pancit!

Happy birthday to me! (January)

 Pancit Bihon consists of very thin rice noodles, soy sauce, sliced meat (chicken, pork, Chinese sausage), and chopped vegetables (cabbage, carrots). A variation of this recipe is made depending on the cook! And is always best served with an addition of a mixed sauce of lemon and patis (a fish sauce condiment) to add and emphasize flavour!

Pancit Bihon

My favourite Pancit is Pancit Palabok, a specialty made by my mom! The rice noodles are thicker than the traditional Bihon and are mixed with a gorgeous, thick shrimp sauce topped with the following ingredients: shrimp, grounded chicaron (fried pork rind), sliced hard-boiled egg, and green onion. No one beats my mom when it comes to making Palabok!

Pancit Palabok


Lumpia is similar to fried Chinese spring rolls. The word derives from the Hokkien lunpia. Like Pancit, there are varying types of lumpia. My favourite is Lumpia Shanghai, which consists of a ground pork or ground beef filling with minced onion and carrots. It is wrapped in an eggroll and sealed with egg and then deep-fried until brown. Once cooked it can be dipped in my choice sauce: white vinegar with salt and pepper. A tray of Lumpia is a usual favourite in potlucks for family gatherings and parties.

Lumpia Shanghai


An empanada is a stuffed pastry that has varying types of stuffing and is baked or fried. The name comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread. Filipino empanadas usually contain ground beef or chicken, potato, onion, and raisins. This is one of my favourites and since I don’t know how to make it yet, I pre-order them at a local Filipino store by the dozen! Nom! Nom! Nom!

Filipino empanada


Lechón is a full roasted pig, a celebratory food for the Filipino, and considered a national dish of the Philippines. The whole body of the pig is cooked on a stick above charcoal and turned in a rotisserie action, roasted on all sides until done. Lechón can be made any time during the year, but is usually made for special occasions such as a birth of a newborn baby, birthday, Christening, a despadida (a goodbye, farewell party) etc., festivals, or holidays. Pieces are cut and can be dipped in a lechón sauce. Do not pity this pig. It’s an honour for him! Filipinos love lechón!



Adobo is a main dish and common favourite cooked with vinegar.

Adobong Baboy is adobo in which pork and Bagaoong Alamang (a pink, shrimp sauce) is used. My Auntie Lila makes a killer Adobong Baboy with bagaoong alamang!

Adobo Baboy (with bagoong alamang)

Adobong Manok is adobo in which chicken and soy sauce is used. My Latino husband knows how to make this and it tastes great! With his Adobo dish, he’s been able to become fully initiated into the Filipino family and culture! Galing naman!

Adobo manok.

There is also the Adobong Pusit, a squid based dish which uses the squids ink as the broth together with vinegar. This is also a great appetizer usually eaten amongst baracada (group of friends) when drinking.

Adobo pusit



This is a Filipino soup stew with meat (fish, pork, shrimp, or beef) and cooked with tamarind, tomato, onions, okra, kangkong (water spinach), sitaw (long green beans), and talong (eggplant) and one of my favourite dishes since I was a child.


Pinakbet or Pakbet

Pinakbet or pakbet is a popular Ilocano dish and one that I thoroughly enjoy because of my father’s family roots. It includes bagoong (pronounced “ba-go-ong”), native bitter melon, eggplant, tomato, okra, string beans, chilli peppers, and spiced with  ginger, onions, and garlic.

“The Pinakbet is more than a regional cuisine, but an enduring symbol of the Ilocano palate and a display of the Ilocanos’ history of struggle with the physical and social environment. The recipe weaves intimations of the cultural productions of the Ilokanos’ transaction to their arid and less productive land.” (Caday, 2009)



Longanisa is a Filipino sausage usually made of pork that differs depending on its region. Lucban is known for derecado, a garlicky longanisa; Guagua for its salty, almost sour longanisa. And Longganisang hamonado known for its sweet taste. Longanisa is a breakfast favourite usually eaten with rice and fried egg (which is what my family and I enjoy on weekends!).



Tuyo is a salted dried herring fish that is also known as stockfish in other countries. It’s a wonderful side dish to add to a cup of hot rice with fried egg and longanisa. This, too, is also a breakfast favourite at the Filipino table—especially mine!


This is probably one of the most difficult posts for me to write considering it’s made me very hungry! Hope you drop by again for the next post on Filipino desserts and snacks… my mouth is already salivating just thinking about it.


What Filipino foods do you think you’d most likely try and enjoy? What kind of food do you enjoy from your own culture?


For previously posted features by The Bibliotaphe’s Closet for the All Things Asian Event, visit the Event Page here.

Zara Alexis

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