Is Filipino Cuisine the New Favorite?

Signs are popping up all over that food from the Philippines is the next big trend. As Filipino fare gains attention nationwide, more diners are discovering its charms every day.


What’s so special about Filipino cuisine? For one thing, it’s actually a fusion. Named for King Phillip II, the Philippines were under Spanish control for over 300 years. The archipelago was also briefly ruled by Japan and the US before gaining independence after WWII. This tumultuous history has one silver lining: rich cuisine with a wide range of influences. The Philippines are comprised of more than 7,000 islands, which means that the diversity of its cuisine is further enhanced by regional variations. Filipino food includes a little Chinese, a little Spanish, and a little Japanese, forming a unique array of dishes and novel ways of presenting food.


Filipino flavors are bold with interesting, often-unexpected uses of ingredients. Dishes range from the very simple (fried, salted fish and rice) to the complex (paellas, whole roasted pig, and cured beef). One popular dish is adobo, or pork or chicken braised in garlic, oils, vinegar, and soy sauce. Another is pork or chicken and veggies simmered in tomato sauce, called afritada. You’ll also find a dish called kare-kare, which is vegetables and oxtail cooked in peanut sauce, and sumptuous hamonado–pork sweetened with pineapple sauce.


Filipino food is extraordinarily multi-faceted and is one of the most representative examples of East meets West in the culinary world. This cuisine centers on a combination of salty, sour, and sweet flavors with spice featuring heavily in some regions. The concept of counterpoint is important in Filipino cuisine, which typically comes through in a pairing of something salty with something sweet, resulting in delightful and unexpected flavors. Examples of this concept include sweet cocoa-rice porridge paired with salted, sun-dried fish; unripe fruit such as green mango dipped in salt; and savory stews paired with sweet rice cakes.


A wide variety of native ingredients find a home in Filipino cooking. Kalamansi (a sour citrus fruit) and tabon-tabon (a tropical fruit) are popular inclusions. Different types of nuts are also popular as well as tultul, a type of rock salt sprinkled on cooked rice and served as a side dish to a range of entrees. Thanks to the tropical climate, chilled drinks are popular; cold fruit shakes and drinks typically contain pineapple, pomelo, mango, papaya, cantaloupe, strawberry, or green mandarin orange.


The good news is that you don’t need to travel the world to create delicious Filipino-inspired dishes (unless you want to). With so many different possibilities, now is a great time to explore the flavors of the Philippines and find ways to incorporate them into your menu or product line. Using natural flavor ingredients can help you to achieve authentic and unique Filipino flavors for your customers to crave.