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My favourite Filipino dishes

I’m asked very often by locals about my favourite Filipino dishes — dishes that I’ve tasted over the past 9 months here in the Philippines. From all the food I’ve tasted, some clearly stood out as winners.

It’s no coincidence that some of the first Bisayan phrases I learned include “Lami kaayo!” (meaning “Very yummy!”). So here I present to you my personal “Lami kaayo” list:

Cassava Cake

Easily my number one favourite of them all. What a sweet delight this cake is. It’s made from cassava root and coconut milk. The strange combination of sweet pie and sprinkled cheese on top works perfectly for some reason. So when asked what’s my favourite Filipino food, I always answer Cassava Cake.

Cassava Cake

Pancit

These fried noodles come in the most different of varieties. You can get them with pork and liver or with seafood. Since I like to have an alternative to rice sometimes, I like to eat pancit whenever it’s available.

Pancit Bihon

Sweet mangoes

Cebu Island is famous for its mangoes and exports them all over the world. The ripe, yellow mangoes are very sweet and taste heavenly. Back in Finland, when I thought of the Philippines from prior vacations, I associated the country always with the sweet smell of the ripe mangoes. We love to eat the fruits, as much as drink mango shakes, eat dried mangoes, and the best of all, eat mango crepes.

Sweet Cebu Mangoes

Kinilaw

Kinilaw is raw fish meat “cooked” in vinegar with salsa. Since we have easy access to fresh fish, we have Kinilaw often. It can be served spicy, but I prefer the mild version.

Kinilaw

Peche-Peche

It’s no wonder that this dessert is among my “lami kaayo” list. It consists of two of my favourite ingredients: cassava and coconut. You can’t really go wrong with this. So sweet.

Peche-peche

Chicken Pandan

People and travellers from Thailand will be familiar with this dish. It’s deep fried chicken covered in Pandan leaves. The flavour is rich, but not overpowering.

Chicken Pandan

Breaded shrimps

There are so many dishes here in the Philippines that are being deep fried. My favourite are these breaded shrimps dipped in mayonnaise.

Breaded Shrimp

Jackfruit

Before you even get to taste it, you’ll get overwhelmed by the sweet and wonderful smell of the jackfruit. Jackfruit are the biggest tree-born fruit in the world and can reach above 40kg in weight. It’s like eating candies, just the healthier option.

Nangka (Jackfruit)

Sikad-sikad

The choice of fresh seafood here is endless. Shrimps, shells, oysters, fish, crabs, sea urchins and many more. No wonder Arthur has been missing them so much while living in Finland. We eat a lot of sea food here. My favourite are these small sikad-sikad.

Sikad-sikad

Singkamas Salad

This is the closest I’ve come so far to fresh salads here. It’s a refreshing mix of singkamas (jicama), red onion, pepper, and vinegar.

Singkamas Salad

Barbecue

I know, I know. I’m fully aware that there is plenty of barbecue in Europe. So this isn’t necessarily typical Pinoy. Still, I listed it in my favourite Filipino food list because the barbecued meat here has a totally different taste than those in Europe. I love it, especially the barbecued chicken. The flavour and the seasoning are so different. It has an “outdoorsy” taste, as in it has smoky flavour that permeates to its bones and skin. It has to be eaten with the hands.

Chicken Barbecue

Caramelised peanuts and caramelised cashew nuts

These caramelised peanuts have become a bad afternoon snack habit of ours. These “piñatos” are covered in a thick layer of caramelised brown sugar. We vowed to stop eating them in the afternoons but we just couldn’t, they’re just too good.

Caramelized Cashew Nuts

Yellow watermelons

I’ve always been a watermelon fanatic. But it was only here that I was introduced to the yellow watermelons. In my opinion, they’re even more sweet and even more refreshing. I wonder why we don’t have them in Finland.

Yellow Watermelon

Crocodile Adobo

While crocodile might not be the usual Filipino lunch meal, it can be found in some fancy restaurants and bars in some parts of the archipelago, especially in Palawan. I love everything “adobo”: chicken adobo, pork adobo, and all the other adobos. I hope to still get the chance to try snake adobo.

Crocodile Adobo

Rambutan

This tropical fruit has gotta be among my top 3 when it comes to sweet fruits. We eat them nearly daily and buy them at our local “suki” (favourite fruit vendor) at the public market. They’re sweet and taste similar to lychees. I also love it that they’re so easy to eat, you don’t need any knife or other tools to open them. That’s why they make the perfect snack on the road.

Rambutan

I’ve tried many different exotic food so far, but one challenge still stands, I still haven’t tasted balut yet.

And now dear readers, maybe you can still suggest me some typical delicious Filipino food you think I should still taste in my left time here in the Philippines. Any suggestions?

11 comments

  1. Is lami ka-ayo a Cebuano phrase? I’m pretty sure they say it as ‘nami ka-ayo’ in Ilonggo. As for cassava cake, if you want a softer version, you have to make the batter liquidy. If you’re still in Visayas, you really have to try original puto Manapla from Manapla, Negros Occidental… It’s really the best version of puto in the whole country, beware of copycats.. And if you ever go to Iloilo, La Paz Batchoy is the best there.

    1. Thanks for your tips. I haven’t tried to do Cassava cake yet myself and that is because cassava is difficult (and expensive!) to find here in Finland.

      But as for Adobo, it has become a dish that we make very often here at home (Chicken Adobo, not Crocodile Adobo though).

      I had no idea lami ka-ayo is used as nami ka-ayo in other parts of the Philippines. They almost sound the same, although I haven’t heard anybody using that in the Cebu area.

  2. Try sinigang na corned beef from the restaurant Centro (or is it Sentro?). Also Bicol Express or Kinunot (who can go wrong with coconut milk dishes). My favorite Pinoy restaurants are those of the Florabel Group of restaurants and Kanin Club. Try to seek those out. Have you tried dinuguan too (pork blood stew)? Or monggo with lechon kawali? It’s my favorite pinoy food pairing!

  3. If somebody in your neighborhood catches a monitor lizard, you have to try it too…Again, it tastes like chicken but more chewy. I guess, this belongs to exotic food category. Roasted bats is a nice addition too… 🙂

    But hey, I have to agree with cassava cake.. Cassava cake and bibingka’ng pinalutaw are my two fave sweets.

    1. I would love to taste those. I’m pretty much open for any kind of exotic food tasting. With the exception of rats.

      Many years ago Arthur used to hunt bats with his uncles in Bohol. He’s eaten both, bats and monitor lizards.

  4. Great list Brian! I’ve tried everything from that list. The last time I had Sinigang was with Shayne a few weeks ago.

    Arthur had been craving so much for Corned Beef while still in Finland. And he’s been eating Corned Beef for breakfast for a couple of months. Luckily he got sick and tired of it. 🙂

  5. Here are my favorites
    * Adobo
    * Pancit
    * Longaniza
    * Any Magnolia Ice Cream
    * Any kind of Sabaw with vegetables
    * Puto
    * Pinoy Spaghetti
    * Sinigang
    * Lechon
    * Leche Flan
    * Monggo
    * Pinoy Corned Beef
    * Afritada

    Guess I like the whole cuisine except Ginamus!!! xD

  6. oh my I can’t imagine crocodile adobo, never even heard about it before.. and for the Balut challege I can totally relate 🙂 try blindfolded or in the dark haha..

    1. I’ll choose blindfolded. I’ll keep you updated when the day finally comes…(Arthur won’t let me leave the Philippines before having tasted Balut).

      PS: Crocodile Adobo was super delicious. But to be honest, if I wouldn’t have been told it’s crocodile, I would have just assumed it’s chicken, but with a harder texture. 😀

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