Regional Specialities

Find out about the Filipino dishes available in the different islands and provinces in the Philippines…

While Filipino culture is largely homogeneous, certain dishes differ from area to area and regions have, to a degree, cultivated their own culinary identity. Regional identities are evident in seasoning techniques and habits and are largely dictated by the availability of the local ingredients and the geography of the areas.

Luzon

Luzon itself has regions within a region that have their own food identity. In northern Luzon the cooking is simple, with the population relying on meat, chicken, local vegetables and fish. Further south in the center of the region and incorporating Manila, the cuisine has become more sophisticated thanks to modern international influences. More to the south, in the former southern Tagalog, the eating habits are influenced by the fresh water fish and vegetables that are cultivated locally. They are known for flavors with sour undertones and also for their cakes. The Bicol area is notable for the use of hot chillies and coconuts.

Local dishes across the region include:

  • Adobong pugita – Octopus adobo
  • Bicol Express- Pork and coconut milk stew served with hot peppers
  • Buku pie – Baked coconut and custard pie
  • Bulalo – Beef shank broth
  • Dinengdeng – Vegetable soup and grilled fish
  • Dinakdakan – Sliced part's of a pig's head and liver, fried with onions, citrus juice and spices
  • Laing – Spicy coconut curry made from taro and meat
  • Pancit batil patong – Noodles with ground carabao meat and a fried egg on top
  • Papaitan – Soup made from goat or cow innards such as tripe, liver heart and flavoured with bile
  • Pinakbet – Mixed vegetable dish steamed in fish or seafood sauce
  • Sizzling sisig – Similar to Dinakdakan except the meat is finely-chopped instead of sliced and served on a griddle

Las Visayas

The cooking in Las Visayas is generally considered simple. It often comprises meat and root vegetables boiled together. Seafood, spices and coconuts feature heavily on the menu in the region. Rice is transported and cooked in 'puso' which are heart-shaped containers made from interwoven palm leaves. Fish and sea foods are preserved in salt and dried in the sun. Dishes from Las Visayas include:

  • Apan-apan – Adobo made with water spinach (kangkong)
  • Baye baye – Grated coconut and ground corn formed into patties
  • Binagol – Grated taro with coconut and condensed milk cooked in coconut shells and eaten cold
  • Binignit – Vegetable soup made with taro, saba bananas and camote (sweet potato)
  • Bocarillo – Sweet made from grated coconut, eggs and milk
  • Budbud pilipit – Sticky rice steamed with coconut and wrapped in banana leaves
  • Butse butse – Balls of mashed sweet potato and grated cassava
  • Latik – Coconut and sugar syrup
  • Lechon – Whole roasted suckling pig.
  • Linubihang Munggo – Beans in coconut milk
  • Sinuglaw – Grilled pork belly and ceviche. A blend of sinugba (grilled) and kinilaw (cured in lemon juice)

Mindanao

Mindanao’s dishes are largely influenced by the exotic tastes of Malaysia and Indonesia. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, lemongrass and chilli are present in the food alongside garlic and roasted coconut. The area does not use pork as an ingredient due to religious beliefs. A few regional specialities include:

  • Abobo Zamboanga – Regional variant of the dish which incorporates coconut cream.
  • Pyanggang – Spiced, barbecued chicken with coconut milk
  • Rendang – Spicy beef curry.
  • Sambal – Spicy sauce popular in the region
  • Tiyula itum – Beef or chicken broth flavored with spices and toasted coconut flesh giving it a black color