What is the one Filipino dish you crave for?


After a long trip abroad and it’s your first meal back, or if you live abroad and are visiting home or you are a foreigner who once lived in the Philippines and are passing by for a visit, what single Filipino dish do you crave for or look forward to eating?

This spread up top was a recent dinner for American friends who were visiting Manila for the first time in over 50 years, and their request included lumpia and pancit. We added in the lechon, the chicken adobo, the bangus tagalog and the squash with coconut milk. There was a huge soup tureen filled with steaming shrimp sinigang and a salad on the main table, and a variety of condiments to make one’s own sawsawan or dipping sauces.

For me, when I’ve overdosed on Western food, and on that last leg of a trip back to Manila, I crave chicken sotanghon soup if my arrival is late at night and I just need a bit of comfort before hitting the sack, OR I just love the thought of tuyo or dried fish with vinegar, a side dish of chopped ripe tomatoes,scrambled or fried eggs and rice if it’s for breakfast, and could dive right into a massive bowl of sour, sour sinigang with prawns paired with a good slow-cooked pork belly adobo and rice if it’s lunchtime. We text a day ahead for special requests. :)


63 Responses

  1. It’s sinigang na hipon or bangus and twice-cooked chicken-pork adobo with chicken liver. Hits the spot ALL the time. The gulay dishes can wait until tomorrow.

  2. I guess I’m fortunate to live in a country with so many Filipino ex-pats, because I can get almost any kind of Filipino food! But when I’m in the Philippines, I crave mangoes. I know it’s not a “dish” but it’s one of the best foods the Philippines has to offer, in my opinion! (I always eat a lot of domestic fruits while there–whatever is in season, but also whatever I can get!)

  3. I can prepare or find most of the Filipino food that I crave, except for lechon. Not sure where to find good lechon in Houston. So that is probably number 1 on my list. Also, when I used to come home for a visit, my Mom would make sure there is fresh seafood (especially shrimps and crabs) with the accompanying salad of mango, tomatoes and bagoong. Third on my list would be fruits — yellow mangoes, indian mangoes, mangosteen, atis, guyabano, etc.

  4. Ayen, do you mean at the buffet table? We time it so it comes off the flames hot, put into serving dishes, and placed on the buffet just before everyone sits down to dinner. Almost all of it remains piping hot for a good 10-20 minutes in our weather, and even with air-conditioning, most of it is nicely warm for most of the main part of the meal. If you live in a cold part of the planet, I suggest heating your serving platters in an oven at about 200F to keep things warm a few minutes longer. I guess the best answer is to cook it and serve it hot. I don’t like food that’s been sitting around for hours and served at room temperature.

  5. I always had nilagang manok (leg part) with a bit of sotanghon and plenty of malunggay after a long trip abroad. =)

  6. Fried galunggong (crispy) and Bicol-style fish sinigang (onion, tomatoes, fish, young malunggay leaves, plus calamansi as souring agent). We call the latter “cocido”. Missing home as I type this.

  7. Ulam with sabaw such as nilagang baka and sinigang with lots of rice. A Filipino can’t live on bread and sandwich alone.

  8. Because it’s easy to find ingredients in CA. & I can cook most of Pinoy dishes.
    When I’m in the Phil., I’d love to have a very good Paksiw na Bisugo. ( fresh bisugo) with sili haba/ pasiti. Chicharon baboy with suka & garlic + Kanin!!
    Merienda should be Pancit malabon.
    Yum! :-)

  9. I am embarrassed to say I have Jollibee first because…the evil bee has a hold on me. But as soon as I finish the meal and get grossed out at myself, I fry myself some dilis and danggit with tomatoes, pinakurat, and tons of rice.

  10. after a long trip abroad, lechon kawali or crispy pata. pero tikim lang dahil bawal. Failing that, pancit luglog or pancit malabon with chicharon on top.

  11. Mother’s fresh dwarf squid adobo. I suspect it’s their youth that gives their sweet tenderness and intense black ink on top of her inimitable way with them.

  12. Pampanga’s balo-balo and burong isda eaten with boiled ampalaya. Also burong talangka mixed in rice and paired with Pampanga’s pindang (sour tocino). Would love also the sauteed version of the talangka fat.

  13. Philippine mangos first. Always but later and in no particular order: lumpia (both sariwa and ubod),bibingka, dinuguan, pinakbet, kare-kare, lechon and chicken relleno. ;-)

  14. @Titanons, I occasionally make balawbalaw complete with angkak here (Western Ontario) and pair it with smoked saury and fried eggplant but yes, you really need to go back for talangka which are terroir specific along with the best time to eat them (typhoon season).

  15. I’m looking forward to coming back home to the Motherland next weekend, and all the good food I’ve missed. My flight arrives VERY late in the evening, so for breakfast I want some Cebu chorizo + fried eggs + sinangag for breakfast, followed by a shrimp sinigang with lots and lots of kangkong, sitaw, and labanos! And rice. Always the rice!

  16. tiyan ng bangus cooked paksiw or sinigang sa sampalok, with the obligatory patis or balayan bagoong sawsawan. Eaten with the whitest and softest steaming rice possible!

  17. Loming Batangas and Goto are 2 of my must-haves when I’m in the Philippines for vacation. There is also this panaderia I go to that sells kesong puti and these small sticks of dari creme. As soon as I get my pandesal, I just borrow a small spoon/knife and eat away.

  18. I always ask for fried crispy galunggong and ginataang langka. Of course with vinegar sawsawan.

  19. Tuyo, scrambled eggs and rice with tomato slices on the side and hot chocolate

    Grilled beef (chuck steak) and a salad. Either blanched bitter melon/bitter melon leaves, chayote leaves, mustard greens or yard beans. Dressed with cherry tomatoes, onions and bagaoong. I also like blanched seaweeds with the same dressing. And steamed rice.

  20. Tatay would always have “tinu-om nga manok” for us when we are in Kalibo. It’s native chicken with garlic, onions, tomatoes, ginger, lemon grass, salt, pepper, wrapped in many layers of banana leaves and cooked in charcoal (baga in our dirty kitchen). This will be followed with another chicken dish the next day; chicken in coconut milk with “ubad” (heart/core of the banana trunk; the dish is called “inubarang manok.”

  21. ECC, you’re right, the lechon at those Asian markets just don’t taste the same, and you have to special order a whole thing from some Pinoy if you want Filipino flavor. But have you tried the little Filipino cafe inside the HEB at the corner of Bellaire and Hwy. 6? It’s close to you. Usually Friday/Sat/Sun they roast a whole pig, and then they sell it in lbs. It sells right away, so try to be there in the morning. They open at 9 am.

    When I come home to Pinas, I crave for the real Bopis, the fresh little GG’s, crablets kimpi, and for fruits, Atis, lansones, and green green mango. Everything else, I can cook or buy from here.

  22. Actually it is more foods cooked by a specific person, it just tastes better eaten at home. Sinampalukang manok, inihaw (in real uling) na liempo at talong, and homemade atchara were the first thing we ate last time we were back home. Dinuguan, kare-kare and palabok are also in my home-cooked list to eat.

  23. If I’m visiting home I’ll have mangoes, lanzones & santol.. for cooked food, longganisang lucban, tamales, pinangat, siopao, empanada & budin :)

  24. @rina you mean the kind that used to be sold in gin or choco-vim bottles, with a banana leaf stopper? That was a childhood treat that was bought from the markets in Bulacan. Fresh, unpasteurized carabao’s milk was the best, occasionally spoiled though because it was sold unrefrigerated. It would be difficult to find that here in Manila since raw milk has its inherent dangers, and the milk sold these days don’t seem to taste as creamy.

  25. yes Monty, that’s exactly what I meant. Childhood summers in cabanatuan meant breakfasts of steaming rice that I’d pour fresh gatas ng kalabaw over and eat with dried fish on the side. Sometimes I won’t even bother with the dried fish and just sprinkle coarse salt – the textural elements of soft, creamy and crunchy all in one plate.

  26. It’s a Western Visayan dish, ginataang gabi with bagongon ( hornshell snail). Also bamboo shoots with shrimps or crab, with saluyot.

  27. MM Sir, indulge this old soul. If the question were “if there will be no tomorrow, what will be your last meal?” I will definitely have a nicely marbled slab of wagyu, medium, in garlic rice drizzled with drippings. For the main course, Ill have pure taba ng talangka in steaming rice drizzled with patis puro and calamansi, plus a seared foie gras on the side. The first I will wash down with Chateau M, the next with Dom P, never mind if you snooty wine experts wanabees will raise your brows. Finally, tocino del cielo, while waiting for the end of time.

  28. 1. Ginataan na natong. My lola from Buhi calls it tinutu. My tagalog cousins calls it laing. We like it dry and oily, never ever soupy.
    2. Ginataan na santol (cooked liked ginataan na natong). My mom always stocks grated and salted santol for when we come home.

  29. I craved for piping hot sinigang ng baboy with lots of gabi and pinakbet. I even called by mom inside the plane to make that request

  30. Fresh carabao milk over steaming rice and salinas tuyo for breakfast. Inihaw na catfish for lunch paired with ginisang gulay (squash, sitaw, talong, okra). Ginisang palaka over rice for dinner. The last time I had those was 1965. I can’t wait to go back to my beloved Pinas!

  31. Funny how the photo of your buffet spread reminded me of a Thai person’s comment to me about our food. She said Filipino food is all brown! This zing hurt a little but it’s true, isn’t it? Trust a Thai person to point this out. The Thais are very particular about colorful and artful food presentation. We can learn a thing or two from them.

  32. I’m a pancitarian and I would eat noodles in the airports during layovers on the way home and eat pancit at home and in carinderias. I even had instant canton noodles in my suki market coffee shop last week before flying back to work.

  33. i look forward to eating the homemade tinunuan na nangka , fresh and spicy, Cebu mangoes, the fresh young coconut, butong in Cebuano, and the fresh lumpia of Cafe Laguna. And doing the rounds of restaurants. :)

  34. I was in the Philippines for a month and we did not find chicken tinola in any Filipino restaurant in BGC, maybe we should have gone to the food court. Definitely chicken tinola with sili leaves!

  35. My nanay’s dinuguan with lots of white rice and latundan banana, eaten together with every spoonful. Then kalabaw mangoes.

  36. @Pecorino, Apparently true at first glance and it’s also true of other cuisines with other colours. Invariably red say for that of Korea, Spain, Hungary, Italy and certain regions of China such as Sichuan. They took on this colour, of course, only in Columbus’ wake, mostly from chile and tomatoes plus achiote, in our case. Always easy to generalize a casual encounter because subtleties are only perceived with prolonged engagement.

  37. Bulalo with lots of marrow. I can have really good adobo or sinigang here in the US, but for some reason bulalo here is never as good as bulalo there.

    Mangoes and mangosteen, and those small white bananas (la tundan? basta not señorita) for my fruit fix.

    Cochinillo asado for not-really-Filipino-but-actually-Filipino-anyway :)

  38. Fried danggit with sinangag, talangka, lanzones, senorita banana – whichever I can get my hands on first :)

  39. ampalaya with egg. Tortang talong. Menudo with pork liver and pork and beans.
    Now I’m hungry.

  40. Longganisang Imus with fried rice and pinakurat vinegar as sawsawan, or tinolang manok na may papaya at malunggay, it can also be sinigang na ulo ng salmon with kamias as pang-asim.

  41. Living in Toronto, we have lots of Filipino stores/restaurants. Popular Pinoy dishes like Pancit, Sisig, Sinigang, Lechon, etc. are pretty much everywhere here. What I really crave (and MISS!) are those dishes that are really native to my Iloilo. Binakol, batchoy, KBL, Tambo, Inasal from Valeria Street, native chicken from Tatoys, and really fresh seafood that are beyond compare anywhere else. Sorry MM you did ask for a single dish, but it’s like picking just one child above all others!

  42. lechon!! gulay na langka, lato and coming from davao, panga na sinugba, kinilaw, lanzones and durian!! yummmm!!!!



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