Top 19 Regional Filipino cuisines you should try!

boodle fight

Top Regional Filipino cuisines

Regional Filipino cuisines you should try
Regional Filipino cuisines you should try – Boodle Fight

Key Takeaways

DishRegionCuisine TypeIngredients
AdoboTagalogMain courseChicken or pork, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns
BagnetIlocosMain coursePork belly, salt, garlic
BatchoyVisayasSoupNoodles, pork, chicken, shrimp, vegetables
Bicol ExpressBicolMain coursePork, coconut milk, shrimp paste, chili peppers
BulaloBatangasSoupBeef shanks, bone marrow, vegetables
Chicken InasalBacolodMain courseChicken, annatto, garlic, black peppercorns
EmpanadaIlocosAppetizerPasty filled with meat or vegetables
Kare-kareTagalogMain courseOxtail, peanut sauce, vegetables
KinilawBicol, Visayas, MindanaoAppetizerRaw fish or seafood, vinegar, spices
La Paz BatchoyIloiloSoupNoodles, pork, chicken, shrimp, vegetables
LaingBicolMain courseTaro leaves, coconut milk, shrimp paste, chili peppers
LechonVisayasMain courseRoasted pig
LongganisaIlocosSausagePork, garlic, black peppercorns
PancitAll over the PhilippinesMain course or side dishNoodles, vegetables, meat, seafood
PinakbetIlocosMain courseVegetable stew in shrimp paste
SisigPampangaMain courseChopped pig’s head, onions, chili peppers, calamansi juice
SinigangTagalogSoupTamarind, meat, seafood, vegetables
Sizzling SisigPampangaMain courseChopped pig’s head, onions, chili peppers, calamansi juice, served on a hot plate
Tuna KinilawVisayas, MindanaoAppetizerRaw tuna, vinegar, spices

Regional Filipino Cuisines are known for their diverse and vibrant flavors, influenced by the country’s rich history and cultural influences. While the Philippines is composed of over 7,000 islands, each region has its own unique culinary traditions and specialties. From the bustling streets of Manila to the tranquil beaches of the Visayas and Mindanao, the country’s regional cuisines offer a mouth-watering adventure for food enthusiasts. In this article, we will take a closer look at the top regional Filipino cuisines, highlighting the distinct flavors and ingredients that make them stand out. Whether you are a local looking to explore your own country’s cuisine or a traveler seeking to experience the authentic flavors of the Philippines, this guide will surely satisfy your cravings and leave you with a deeper understanding of the country’s diverse culinary landscape. So get ready to embark on a delicious journey as we unveil the top regional Filipino cuisines that will surely tantalize your taste buds.

Adobo Tagalog

Jack Lawrence, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Adobo Tagalog is a hallmark of Filipino cuisine, renowned for its tantalizing blend of tangy vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, salt, and spices like black pepper and bay leaves. Whether it’s the famed chicken adobo or its pork counterpart, the process involves marinating the meat, then simmering it to perfection, resulting in a savory-tangy pot of delight, often paired with steamed white rice or fried rice.

Distinct from the Mexican adobo with chipotles or the Puerto Rican sofrito, the Philippine adobo stands unique in its preparation and ingredients. Sites like Serious Eats, with authors Vicky Wasik and Michael Hultquist, offer insights into the dish’s intricacies. While variations such as adobo sa gatâ or adobong kangkóng highlight the cuisine’s diversity, the essence of the Filipino adobo—a fusion of taste, history, and culture—remains a testament to the Philippines’ rich culinary heritage.

Bagnet Ilocos

Regional Filipino cuisines you should try - Bagnet, Ilocos
Regional Filipino cuisines you should try – Bagnet, Ilocos

Bagnet Ilocos a renowned dish from the northern realms of Ilocos, stands as a testament to the rich culinary traditions of Filipino cuisine. This iconic deep-fried pork belly, akin to the crispy lechon kawali, distinguishes itself with its meticulous preparation. The secret lies in boiling the quality pork, specifically the liempo part, before subjecting it to a double frying process. This unique method ensures the golden-brown crispy texture, reminiscent of crackling chicharon. Often, this dish is paired with a spicy vinegar dip and a side of vegetables, encapsulating the essence of Ilocano flavors.

Delving deeper into its cooking intricacies, the first step involves simmering the pork belly in water and spices, prepping it for the frying stage. Subsequent frying, first on low heat and then a fast deep-fry on high heat, guarantees its signature crunch. Blogs, like those of Melissa Clark and content marketer Joost Nusselder, detail in-depth articles about bagnet recipes, tips, and its rich history. They often mention the importance of quality ingredients, and the role the fridge plays in ensuring the perfect dish outcome. Whether it’s being compared to the Batangas-style chicharon or being served alongside a tomato-onion side dish or a favorite salad recipe, bagnet’s prominence in the Ilokano diet is undeniable. When visiting the Philippines, especially Ilocos Sur, missing out on this deep-fried delight would be a culinary oversight.

Batchoy Visayas

Batchoy Visayas: A Filipino Soup Masterpiece

Batchoy Visayas is an emblematic recipe that captures the culinary richness of the Philippines. Originating from the Visayan region, this hearty soup is a delightful fusion of ingredients—pork, beef, liver, Miki noodles, and sometimes chicken, crafting a staple dish in Filipino cuisine. Rooted in historical Chinese influences, key cooking methods include stir-frying organ meats and adding flavorful components like shrimp paste and garlic. The broth, accentuated by pork blood and beef stock, provides an unparalleled taste, embodying the essence of Filipino food.

La Paz Batchoy, renowned for its cracklings and a garnish of raw egg, remains a popular choice. Yet, variations such as Batchoy Tagalog and Batsoy, along with their nuanced differences, exemplify regional culinary diversity. Blogs, especially those highlighting Pinoy delicacies, often compare Batchoy with Filipino desserts, like pancit molo, or juxtapose it with other soupy delights such as chicken sopas. Even in the realm of Japanese food, the texture and layers of Batchoy can evoke the warmth of ramen. However, Batchoy stands out in its depth, often enjoyed with side dishes like pancit canton, sotanghon, or even a sprinkle of chicharon. To delve into a bowl of Batchoy is to partake in a tradition, an experience further enriched by the many recipe adaptations available on platforms like Kindle Unlimited. Whether for its nutrition or taste, Batchoy is undeniably a testament to the Philippines’ vibrant food culture.

Bicol Express Bicol

Bicol Express, often dubbed the “express dish” of Filipino cuisine, is a flavorful stew that has its roots deep in the Bicol region. Made predominantly with pork, often the pork belly or pork shoulder, it harmoniously combines the rich creaminess of coconut milk with the fiery heat of chili peppers. The dish is not just about its spiciness but also boasts a unique flavor brought about by ingredients such as shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) and garlic. Named after the fast-moving train in the region, the Bicol Express is a testament to the region’s love for spicy food and coconut-rich dishes, requiring minimal ingredients yet delivering an explosive taste to the buds.

This popular Filipino dish has several versions and variations, with some incorporating beef, chicken, or even seafood. Its preparation time, typically 15-20 minutes, is quick, making it a favorite among many who crave a spicy dish with a creamy sauce. Paired with steamed white rice, it becomes a complete meal that encapsulates the essence of Filipino food. Some recipes even suggest adding extra veggies for added nutrition or simmering the stew on moderate-low heat to enhance its flavors further. Whether you’re new to Filipino dishes or a seasoned enthusiast, Bicol Express is a culinary journey of taste, heat, and rich Filipino heritage.

Bulalo Batangas

Bulalo Batangas is a distinguished beef soup dish deeply rooted in the culinary traditions of the Batangas province in the Philippines. This timeless Filipino classic stands out for its use of beef shanks and marrow bones, imparting an unmistakable depth to its broth. By simmering these cuts for extended periods, the soup becomes rich and savory, amplified further by the addition of ingredients like fish sauce and onion leeks. This flavorful base is complemented by sweet corn, cabbage, and often bok choy or Chinese cabbage, making it both a feast for the taste buds and a nourishing bowl of comfort.

Beyond its warming properties, Bulalo Batangas showcases the intricacies of Filipino cuisine, where each component plays a pivotal role in achieving the dish’s characteristic taste. The bone marrow, a highlight of the dish, lends creaminess, while the meat, tender from hours of cooking, often in a pressure cooker or slow cooker, offers hearty bites. Paired with a bowl of rice, this soup is not only a favorite among locals but also a must-try for anyone eager to experience authentic Filipino food. Whether you’re following a traditional Bulalo recipe or exploring variations, it remains a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the Luzon region.

Chicken Inasal Bacolod

Chicken Inasal Bacolod is an embodiment of Filipino culinary artistry, with its roots tracing back to the bustling city of Bacolod in the province of Negros Occidental. What truly sets this chicken dish apart is its meticulously crafted marinade, harmoniously blending vinegar, calamansi juice, lemongrass, and a selection of spices, delivering a burst of flavor that captivates the palate. Once marinated, the chicken is grilled, preferably over a charcoal grill, absorbing the smoky essence and developing a slightly charred exterior. The basting technique using annatto oil further accentuates its rich hue and imparts an added layer of taste, making it a dish cherished in the Visayas region.

Accompanying this iconic dish is a plate of steaming white rice and the tangy accompaniment of atchara, a Filipino pickled papaya. To elevate the dining experience, a dipping sauce melding the flavors of soy sauce, calamansi juice, and chili peppers is commonly served on the side, adding a zesty touch to every bite. With its intoxicating aroma and incomparable flavor profile, Chicken Inasal offers a taste journey that is quintessentially Filipino. If one aims to delve into the heart of Filipino cuisine, this charcoal-grilled dish stands as a testament to the nation’s rich culinary heritage and is undeniably a must-try.

Empanada Ilocos

Empanada Ilocos stands as an emblematic delight from the northern realms of the Philippines, specifically the Ilocos region. Revered for its unique composition and rich historical ties, this savory pastry encapsulates a melange of flavors, from the tangy crunch of green papaya to the richness of meat and sometimes the creaminess of egg. The dough, often made from rice flour, cradles these ingredients, sealing the essence of Ilocano culinary expertise. The deep-frying process gives it a lustrous golden brown finish, while the distinctive orange hue, often derived from annatto seeds, makes it an eye-catching snack.

As one bites into this half-moon shaped treasure, they are greeted with a fusion of textures and tastes, further elevated when paired with spiced vinegar dipping sauce. This dish is not merely a popular snack; it’s a journey through the varied palate of Filipino dishes, reflecting the influence of Spain yet remaining uniquely Filipino with local ingredients like longganisa from Vigan or Batac. Whether you savor it in the vibrant streets of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, or a food hall in the heart of Manila, Empanada Ilocos is an authentic food experience, capturing the essence of Filipino cuisine and culture.

Kare-kare Tagalog

One dish that truly embodies the rich and hearty flavors of Filipino cuisine is Kare-kare Tagalog. This regional delicacy hails from the central Luzon region of the Philippines and is a staple in many Filipino homes. The traditional version of this dish is made with ox tail and tripe, cooked in a savory peanut sauce, and served with vegetables such as eggplant, bok choy, and string beans. The result is a creamy and flavorful stew that is best enjoyed with a side of steaming white rice. Kare-kare Tagalog is a must-try for anyone looking to explore the diverse and delicious flavors of Filipino food.

Kinilaw Bicol, Visayas, Mindanao

In the Philippines, food is more than just sustenance – it’s a reflection of the diverse cultures and regions that make up the country. When it comes to dishes that showcase local flavors and ingredients, Kinilaw is a standout choice. This raw seafood dish is a favorite in three regions of the Philippines – Bicol, Visayas, and Mindanao – and each has its own unique twist on the traditional recipe. In Bicol, Kinilaw is known for its spicy kick with the use of labuyo peppers, while Visayan Kinilaw incorporates coconut milk for a creamy texture. In Mindanao, Kinilaw is often made with tuna or other seafood and is served with a side of crispy shrimp chips. Whichever region you try it in, Kinilaw is a must-try for seafood lovers looking to explore the diverse cuisine of the Philippines.

La Paz Batchoy Iloilo

La Paz Batchoy Iloilo is a must-try dish for anyone visiting the Philippines. It originated in the district of La Paz in Iloilo City and has become a popular comfort food for locals and tourists alike. This hearty soup is made with fresh egg noodles, tender pork, liver, and meat broth. The key ingredient that sets this dish apart is the addition of pork innards such as heart, liver, and intestines, giving it a unique and robust flavor. It is then topped with crunchy fried garlic, chopped scallions, and a splash of calamansi juice for a burst of tanginess. Whether you’re looking for a hot and satisfying meal on a rainy day or simply want to taste a traditional Filipino dish, La Paz Batchoy Iloilo is a must-try for all food lovers.

Laing Bicol

Lokalpedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One dish that you absolutely must try when visiting the Philippines is Laing Bicol. Originating from the Bicol region, this spicy vegetable dish is made with taro leaves, coconut milk, and chili peppers, giving it a rich and flavorful taste. It is a staple in many Filipino households and is often served during special occasions and celebrations. The taro leaves are cooked in coconut milk until tender, creating a creamy and savory base for the dish. The addition of chili peppers adds a kick of heat that balances out the creaminess of the coconut milk. Whether you are a fan of spicy food or not, Laing Bicol is a must-try dish that truly captures the essence of Filipino cuisine.

Lechon Visayas

With its crispy skin, juicy meat, and savory flavor, Lechon Visayas is a must-try dish for any food lover in the Philippines. This regional version of the popular Filipino dish, Lechon, is known for its unique blend of spices and herbs, making it stand out from other varieties. The Visayas region, consisting of islands such as Cebu, Bohol, and Negros, is known for its expertise in preparing and roasting lechon, making it a must-have at any special occasion or celebration. Pair it with some steamed rice and a side of spicy vinegar dip, and you have a truly delicious and unforgettable feast. Don’t miss out on this iconic dish when visiting the Visayas region.

Longganisa Ilocos

Originating from the northern region of the Philippines, Longganisa Ilocos is a must-try dish for anyone looking to explore the country’s diverse cuisine. This savory sausage is made from a unique blend of pork, garlic, and local spices, giving it a distinct flavor that sets it apart from other regional sausages. Each bite of Longganisa Ilocos is bursting with a delicious combination of salty, sweet, and garlicky flavors, making it a popular choice for breakfast or as a side dish to any meal. Whether you prefer it grilled or fried, this flavorful dish is a true representation of the rich and vibrant culture of Ilocos and is definitely worth adding to your list of must-try regional dishes in the Philippines.

Pancit All over the Philippines

One dish that is loved and enjoyed all over the Philippines is Pancit, a noodle dish that has many variations and can be found in every region of the country. Whether you’re in the bustling city of Manila or the laid-back beaches of Cebu, you will surely find a local version of this delicious dish. Each region has its own twist on Pancit, incorporating unique ingredients and cooking methods to create a one-of-a-kind flavor. Some popular variations include Pancit Malabon from the fishing village of Malabon, Pancit Batil Patung from the northern region of Tuguegarao, and Pancit Buko from the island of Cebu. No matter where you go in the Philippines, Pancit is a must-try dish that represents the diversity and richness of the country’s cuisine.

Pinakbet Ilocos

One of the must-try dishes in the Philippines is the flavorful and unique Pinakbet Ilocos. This dish originated in the northern region of Ilocos and has become a staple in Filipino cuisine. What sets Pinakbet Ilocos apart from other vegetable dishes is the use of shrimp paste or bagoong, giving it a distinct salty and savory taste. The dish is made up of various vegetables such as squash, eggplant, okra, and bitter melon, cooked in a delicious mixture of pork, shrimp paste, and other spices. Pinakbet Ilocos is not only a tasty dish but also a healthy one, packed with nutrients and fiber from the fresh vegetables. It’s a must-try for any food lover looking to experience the diverse flavors of the Philippines.

Sisig Pampanga

One of the most beloved and iconic dishes in the Philippines is Sisig Pampanga. Originating from the province of Pampanga in Central Luzon, this sizzling and savory dish has captured the hearts and taste buds of many. Made from chopped pork face and ears, seasoned with calamansi, chili peppers, and various spices, Sisig Pampanga is a perfect blend of crunch, spice, and umami flavors. It is traditionally served on a sizzling hot plate, topped with a raw egg that cooks while mixing with the meat. This dish is a must-try for anyone looking to experience the rich and diverse flavors of Filipino cuisine.

Sinigang Tagalog

Sinigang Tagalog is a staple dish in the Philippines, known for its tangy and savory flavor. This classic Filipino dish is typically made with pork, but can also be made with other meats such as beef, shrimp, or fish. What sets Sinigang Tagalog apart from other versions of Sinigang is the use of tamarind as the souring agent, giving it a distinct and delicious taste. It’s a simple yet flavorful dish that is best enjoyed with a steaming bowl of rice. Sinigang Tagalog is a must-try dish for anyone looking to experience the traditional flavors of the Philippines.

Sizzling Sisig Pampanga

Sizzling Sisig Pampanga is the undisputed king of Filipino bar food. Originating from the province of Pampanga, this sizzling dish is made with chopped pig’s face and ears, seasoned with calamansi, chili peppers, and onions. It may not sound appetizing, but trust me, once you take a bite of this sizzling goodness, you won’t be able to stop. The combination of crunchy and chewy textures, along with the tangy and spicy flavors, make Sizzling Sisig Pampanga a must-try dish for anyone visiting the Philippines. And don’t forget to pair it with an ice-cold beer for the ultimate bar food experience.

Tuna Kinilaw Visayas, Mindanao

One of the most popular dishes in the Visayas and Mindanao regions of the Philippines is Tuna Kinilaw. This dish is a type of raw fish or seafood salad that is typically made with fresh tuna, coconut vinegar, and various herbs and spices. While it may sound intimidating to some, Tuna Kinilaw is actually a refreshing and delicious dish that perfectly highlights the freshness and flavors of the sea. The tuna is marinated in vinegar, which “cooks” the fish and is then combined with ingredients like ginger, onions, chilies, and calamansi to create a flavorful and zesty dish. It’s a must-try for seafood lovers and a beloved staple in the cuisine of these regions.

Adobo Tagalog, Bagnet Ilocos, and Batchoy Visayas

So, there you have it, folks. Adobo Tagalog, Bagnet Ilocos, and Batchoy Visayas may all have different origins and flavors, but they all bring a unique and delicious taste to the table. Whether you’re craving a tangy and savory dish, a crispy and indulgent one, or a comforting and hearty bowl, these Filipino dishes have got you covered. So why not give them a try and experience the flavors of three different regions of the Philippines in one meal? Trust us, your taste buds will thank you.


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