Asia

Like a Local: 10 of the most unique foods of the Philippines

by Paul Stafford  |  Published August 20, 2018

The Philippines struggles to rival other Asian countries in terms of international renown for its cuisine. This seems unfair, as the country has one of the most unique and fun cuisines in the world. Here are some of the more unusual foods that can be found, and eaten, in the Philippines.

A kwek kwek stall at night (Photo: Brian Dys Sahagun via Flickr)

China, South Korea, Japan and Thailand are all considered eminent international cuisines. You can find restaurants selling variants of popular food from any one of these countries in practically any western city. Moreover, these restaurants are not just popular with their own diasporas, but attract customers from all over.

So it seems almost criminal that another culinary superstar of the East/Southeast Asian region seems to go overlooked. Philippine cuisine is an absolute revelation. It is one of the most playful, inventive and unusual cuisines in the world, with remarkable diversity and a whole range of regional and European influences creeping in. Also they fry a lot of things. So it might not win any awards for healthiest cuisine, but who wants that boring old accolade anyway?

There are a couple of dishes in the Philippines that could be said to define the country’s cuisine, such as lechon – and entire pig spit roast – or adobo – grilled chunks of meat in vinegar, spices and soy sauce – and these can be commonly found. But they’re not necessarily unique in that they cannot be found elsewhere in one form or another. This list however focusses on the types of dishes that are unlikely to be encountered in such a form elsewhere in the world.

It’s worth noting that adobo is not just a dish but the name for a common style of cooking in the Philippines, which is akin to grilling, and many of the foods on this list, if not fried, will be cooked adobo style.

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