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Dishes To Try In The Philippines

March 5th, 2010 by

The Philippines is another destination in Asia that is quite famous among tourists.  It is known for the warm hospitality offered by the Filipinos, the lush forests, tropical climate, island getaways, and serene sights just to name a few.  Undeniably, anyone who gets to visit the Philippines must never miss trying out the local fares.  Of course, there are numerous dishes ranging from the ordinary to those that are borderline exotic.

I think it is best to start this list with the crowd favorite – SINIGANG.  This dish is popular because of its sour and tasty soup.  The meat that is included in Sinigang can be pork, beef or seafood like Shrimp or Fish.  It is prepared by boiling the meat together with chopped onions and tomatoes in a proportional amount of water until the meat becomes tender.  Tamarind powder, which is readily available in local supermarkets, is added to the soup for the flavoring plus salt depending on preference.  When this is done, chopped vegetables are added as a final touch.  This dish is best served when hot and with a cup of steaming boiled rice.  Sometimes, the locals prepare a special dip that is made of fish sauce with a little lime.

The next dish on my list is – GINATAAN.  A dish is termed ginataan if it is cooked with a lot of coconut milk.  You can say that this is a lot similar to the curry dishes but minus the curry powder.  This dish can be prepared with pork, chicken or a select variety of seafood like crabs or shellfish.  Ginataan is prepared by sautéing all the ingredients, including vegetables, over low heat. Coconut milk is added as well as seasoning.  You would just have to let this simmer until cooked.  Of course, I prefer to add fresh chili to make the dish spicy and all the more exciting to eat.

KARE-KARE is another must try dish in the Philippines.  Needless to say, it is a favorite of mine. This dish is made extra flavorful because of the peanut sauce and the crunchy vegetables that are added.  The main ingredient can be beef, tripe, or oxtail.  Sometimes, the belly part of milk fish is added to the dish.  This is prepared by cooking the meat in boiling water until tender.  One should then add ground roasted peanuts as well as peanut butter and ground roasted sticky rice.  The peanut butter and rice will make the soup thick.  Atsuete is also used to give the dish some color.  After simmering, vegetables like eggplants, string beans, Chinese cabbage, and young banana flower are added.  One has to make sure, though, that the vegetables are not overcooked.  Kare-kare is best served with sautéed shrimp paste or bagoong and steamed boiled rice.

For vegetarians or for those who prefer vegetables over meat then I highly recommend PINAKBET.  This dish is said to originate from the northern part of the Philippines specifically from the province of Ilocos Norte.  This dish is prepared by sautéing pork in a little amount of oil and setting it aside when golden brown. The next step is to sauté garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes and the previously sautéed pork.  Water is added as well as anchovy sauce or what is locally called bagoong.  Vegetables like string beans, squash, eggplants, okra and others are added next.  This is simmered for a few minutes and served hot.

This list would not be complete without including the famous local dish called ADOBO.  Adobo is a dish that is said to be passed on from generation to generation. Filipinos even claim that there is no one sure way of cooking adobo as this dish is prepared differently by the various provinces.  The one that is commonly known is the Chicken and Pork Adobo.  This is prepared by marinating choice cuts of chicken and pork in a mixture of minced garlic together with equal portions of soy sauce and vinegar.  After an hour or two, this mixture is cooked over low heat and is left to simmer until the sauce is already about to dry up and the meat is already well done.  This dish is best served with hot garlic rice and slices of fresh tomatoes.  Variations include adding some hard boiled eggs or chili for a different kick.

It is so easy to find these dishes and you need not look far.  Hotels in the Philippines like the Ascott Makati Serviced Residence Manila can serve some of these dishes or can direct you to a nearby restaurant.

Try all these dishes and I guarantee that you will be in for the gastronomic ride of your life.  You might just like one dish too much that you will learn to cook it when you get home.  Bon appétit!

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