Philippines

1. Lumpia

What it is: Filipino–style spring rolls.

Why it’s awesome: The filling varies, but one thing remains the same: You can (and will) inhale them by the dozen.

2. Sinigang

Sinigang

What it is: Hot and sour soup.

Why it’s awesome: Tamarind paste and calamansi (or Philippine lime) juice infuse the broth with its signature sour flavor. This version calls for salty chunks of pork and a splash of creamy coconut milk to round out things out.

3. Chicken Afritada

Chicken Afritada

What it is: Chicken stew.

Why it’s awesome: Spanish influences can be found throughout Filipino cuisine, and this tomato-based stew with chicken, peppers, and onions is one of the heartiest examples.

4. Cassava Cake

Cassava Cake

What it is: A creamy, not-too-sweet dessert made from cassava root and coconut milk.

Why it’s awesome: It’s sweet, but not cloyingly so. For texture, the top is broiled until it’s almost crunchy. It can also be made gluten-free.

5. Ube Ice Cream

What it is: Exactly what it sounds like: ice cream made from the root crop ube, also known as purple yam.

Why it’s awesome: Purple ice cream. ‘Nuff said.

6. Pork Adobo

Pork Adobo

What it is: Tender pork belly braised in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, oil, and bay leaves.

Why it’s awesome: All of the flavors? Check.

7. Chicken Bistek

Chicken Bistek

What it is: Meat cooked in a sauce of soy and citrus.

Why it’s awesome: Soy sauce is cut with lemon juice or calamansi to make an addictive, tangy marinade.

8. Chicharon

 

What it is: Fried pork rinds.

Why it’s awesome: Fried. Pork. Rinds.

 9. Bibingka

What it is: Sweet coconut cake.

Why it’s awesome: Rice flour + coconut cream = a Filipino Christmastime treat that’s delicious enough to eat year-round.

 10. Kare-Kare

Kare-Kare

What it is: Oxtail stew.

Why it’s awesome: The key ingredient that brings everything together? Peanut butter.

11. Halo-Halo

What it is: Dessert made with a hodgepodge of ingredients, including shaved ice, sweet beans, fruit, tapioca, and ube ice cream.

Why it’s awesome: Halo-halo means “mix mix” in Tagalog, and that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do with it.

12. Biko

Biko

What it is: Sweet sticky rice.

Why it’s awesome: This creamy, easy-to-make dessert only requires a few ingredients. But it still packs a ton of flavor, and it’s garnished with equally addictive latik, or cooked-down coconut milk or cream.

13. Kaldereta

Kaldereta

What it is: Hearty meat stew with potatoes, peppers, and liver sauce.

Why it’s awesome: The stew is traditionally made with goat, but you can also sub in beef or chicken for those who haven’t yet seen the light.

14. Dessert Lumpia

Dessert Lumpia

What it is: Sweetened bananas baked in lumpia wrappers, then drizzled with caramel and chocolate.

Why it’s awesome: ANG SARAP.

 15. Ukoy

Ukoy

What it is: Crispy shrimp fritters with tangy vinegar dipping sauce.

Why it’s awesome: Portable perfection.

16. Tocino

What it is: Sweetened cured pork.

Why it’s awesome: Thin strips of pork sit for several hours (or days) in a mixture of sugar, salt, garlic, and oil, then are fried up in a hot pan until the coating caramelizes.

17. Leche Flan

Leche Flan

What it is: Caramel custard.

Why it’s awesome: This dense, silky dessert is richer than its Spanish counterparts because it’s made with condensed milk and more egg yolks. Nom factor: high.

18. Filipino Spaghetti

Filipino Spaghetti

What it is: Noodles sweetened with your choice of sugary sauce — like banana ketchup or condensed milk. Bonus points for adding chopped up hot dogs.