Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Top 5 Filipino Comfort Foods

Filipino Comfort Foods: sinigang, dinuguan, arroz caldo, lechon kawali, tosilog

I feel like my last few posts have been a little heavy so today I've decided to talk about something that everyone loves--food!

When you ask most non-Filipinos or even non-Asians about Filipino food, most of them will say lumpia. It's not bad to say that because of course, it is a dish made typically for parties and because most people are familiar with Chinese egg rolls, these are an easy transition into Filipino food. 

So today, I'll be talking a little bit about some favorite Filipino comfort foods :) I asked a few different groups of people for opinions on this, so I'll be posting based on the top 5 answers!


1. Sinigang

This is sinigang na baboy! Photo credits to Casa Veneracion

This is by far my favorite food as well as many many Filipinos! Sinigang is a tamarind-based stew with a very sour taste. It's always some kind of meat with a lot of veggies. There are 5 main types of sinigang: 
  • sinigang na baka (beef sinigang)
  • sinigang na baboy (pork sinigang)
  • sinigang na hipon (shrimp sinigang) 
  • sinigang na isda (fish sinigang)
  • sinigang na manok or sinampalukang manok (chicken sinigang) 
Honestly, the broth and the veggies are my favorite part of any sinigang but my favorites would have to be the sinigang na baka (the way my mom makes it) and sinampalukang manok. The chicken sinigang varies slightly from the other versions and usually has more ginger and actual tamarind leaves in the broth which are very yum to me. 

This is a dish that is meant to be eaten with rice, unlike most stews/soups in other cultures where it's okay to eat it on its own. I mean you can definitely eat this on its own but if you're with Filipinos you will probably be eating it with rice. It's perfect for a cold or rainy day outside but honestly no matter the temperature I will gladly eat this because I love it so much. 

2. Arroz Caldo/Lugaw/Goto

This version is arroz caldo. Photo credits to ParTaste

This is a breakfast staple in Filipino households! I remember as a kid when my dad would go to the goto place to buy goto & puto (Filipino rice cake, not a Spanish bad word) for us to eat. 

This is our version of congee or porridge. There are different variations, hence the different names. We also like to top it off with calamansi, or a citrus fruit found in the Philippines. Think of it as a cross between a lime and an orange (green on the outside, orangey on the inside) and the taste is slightly tangy. It's even a popular juice in the Philippines!

Anyway, here are the variations: 
  • Arroz caldo: the spanish wording for it, but also the version with chicken. 
  • Goto: the beef tripe (stomach lining) version
  • Lugaw: the plain version with no meat. 
Usually, there may also be a hard boiled egg in it and it is usually topped with green onions. Most people eat it for breakfast or merienda (midday snack). Just thinking about it now is making me hungry, haha. 

3. Silog

This is another Filipino breakfast, and "silog" is the suffix used in the dish with the type of ulam (or meat) being the prefix of the word. Silog is short for sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg usually cooked sunny side up or over easy). 

Tosilog, or sweet pork as the ulam! Photo credit to Ang Sarap

Main types of silog: 
  • Tapsilog: Tapa (a form of beef) as the ulam
  • Tocilog: Tocino (sweet pork) as the ulam
  • Longsilog: Longanisa (pork sausage that can be sweet, spicy, or garlicky) as the ulam
  • Spamsilog: Spam (canned pork) as the ulam 
It is such an easy and classic breakfast, which is of course why it made it onto this list! There are other variations beyond this; for example, Filipino fast food chain Jollibee has a hotdogsilog where Filipino hot dogs (they are colored red and slightly sweeter than American ones) are the main meat. We love our meats. 

4. Dinuguan

The infamous "chocolate meat," a favorite of many. Photo credit to Casa Veneracion

This is a fun one, haha. You may have heard it before or you may have heard of it as "chocolate meat," but no, it is definitely not chocolate haha. 

Dinuguan is a dark brown colored stew made with pork blood. For many people from western countries it sounds weird but you also have to remember that people from most parts of the world don't waste any part of the animal. Which, although I don't like dinuguan myself, is a great thing because as a society we waste too much already. 

Anyway, back to the stew :) Dinuguan is spiced with garlic, vinegar, and chili, along with the pork blood, so it has a tart taste, which is why I'm not a big fan of it. As a kid I didn't like it because I thought it looked nasty, but now that I'm older it's more so the taste. However, if there is absolutely nothing else to eat I will eat it with rice, which I'm sure you know we eat everything with by now. haha. 

5. Lechon Kawali

This is not exactly a "comfort food," but many of the people that I surveyed really love it for its crispiness and fattiness but also because for many, like me, it reminds us of our childhood. 

The deep fried goodness of lechon kawali! Photo credit to Choose Philippines

It is pretty much fried pork belly, known for the super crispy skin and the very fatty meat. Because it's very fatty people either love it or hate it for health reasons but besides that it's pretty delicious. It is usually served with Mang Tomas, a very common brand of lechon sauce. It's kind of a gravy, but it is much more peppery and vinegary with traces of liver in it (which I didn't find out until just now!). I, personally, don't usually use Mang Tomas with my lechon as I prefer to savor the crispy skin as it is, but most people dip their meat in it and it's delicious. Again, this is also typically served with rice but nowadays more and more Filipino restaurants trying to appeal to a more younger and westernized crowd serve it as an appetizer with no rice. 

Okay I'm really hungry now but I hope this gave a good taste into Filipino food beyond lumpia! Which one is your favorite or which one would you try if you haven't had any of them? Let me know if there are any other foods that I missed! I might just write a part 2 to this :) 

love always, Kriselle

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