Philippine Food in Context

Filipino cuisine is the food and cookery of the Philippines a land of close to 100 million people located in Southeast Asia, a region of multifaceted cooking. Although geographically Asian and ethnically mainly Malayo-Polynesian, due to its history, Spanish and American influences are very evident.


The Filipino palate prefers food with a distinct flavor (lasa)—blandness (subtlety if you prefer) is generally not popular—but the cuisine is less spicy and lacks some of the complexity in the use of spices and herbs found in that of its neighbors.  Salty and sour flavors are generally more dominant for the main course but sweetness is well-represented in Spanish influenced tomato sauce-based recipes, breads, pastries, and desserts.


The Philippines' tropical climate provides the country a bountiful array of local ingredients.  The simplicity of some dishes rely simply on the freshness of ingredients.  Some of the ingredients that contribute to the distinctiveness of Philippine cuisine include kalamansi, saba, patis, and bagoong.  In years past replicating authentic Filipino dishes has been complicated by the unavailability of certain ingredients overseas but that has changed.  Many Filipino dishes described as soups tend to be very hearty with large chunks of meat and vegetables and may actually be closer to stews.  Like most of Asia rice is the staple grain and an important food all on its own.  As an archipelago, seafood is abundant and has usually been the main source of protein in the Filipino diet.  Traditionally meat had been less commonly available and prepared for special occasions.  Pork is popular in non-Muslim areas.  One food critic lists Philippine cuisine tops in his hierarchy of pork.  Pork fat is found in many dishes and has led to the criticism that many end up too rich and fattening, but it also contributes to the homey feel of the cuisine that has led it to be described as the soul food of Southeast Asia.