There are dishes that are inherently Filipino, apart from just adobo and sinigang. You’ll find a rich variety of Filipino recipes from the different regions, crafted based on each locality’s abundant produce: grain, fruit, vegetables, seafood, etc. But this heterogeneity goes beyond just tools and ingredients. Filipino cooking is diverse because it’s also been influenced by the cuisines of other countries. A quick look into the Filipino recipes, and you’ll find several different dishes that bear resemblance to food in Spain, China, Germany, France, and even West Africa.
All of these semblances make it easier for some foreigners to learn how to cook Filipino food because it provides a more familiar groundwork to work off from. Here are some Filipino dishes that may ring a bell to people in the international community:
Filipino Lugaw and Chinese Congee
Congee isn’t a rare sight in Asian cuisine. The thick rice porridge is a staple on rainy days across the region, with locals enjoying its heat and heartiness to ward off any sense of cold. The Philippines has several versions of local congee generally termed “lugaw,” the most famous being arroz caldo, a gingery chicken porridge. There are also other Filipino recipes for lugaw, each one similar to the basic Chinese congee, but with different toppings (the names of which depend on the topping or main ingredient).
Filipino Kare-Kare and Western African Maafe
You can’t learn how to cook Filipino food without getting to know kare-kare, a scrumptious meaty stew built on peanuts. It’s a hearty one, stuffed with vegetables, pork hocks, and tripe. It’s quite similar to maafe (maffe, mafé, etc.) of Gambia and Senegal in Western Africa. Their version, however, uses mutton or lamb, with crushed peanuts and chopped vegetables.
Filipino Kuhol and French Escargot
People often associate eating snails with the French—their famous escargot. But in the Philippines, locals have also been enjoying the dish for years in their version called kuhol. In France, snails are prepared by removing them from their shell, then placing butter, garlic, parsley, and wine in their place, before putting them back in. In the Philippines, on the other hand, Filipino cooking does it by sauteing the snails in garlic and ginger, before letting them stew in coconut milk.
For the full list of Filipino dishes that have international counterparts—and to simply learn more about Filipino cooking (i.e. how to cook Filipino food) in general—visit Pepper.ph, a cooking resource from the Philippines that helps young cooks in the kitchen. They have several guides, lists, and Filipino recipes that can teach you all about the Philippine cuisine, as well as the food in other Asian regions to help you get better in the kitchen!