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