Often overshadowed by other Asian cuisines, the foods of the Philippines have not yet captured a broad US audience. That’s shifting, as American palates have become more sophisticated and attuned to the complex flavors and bitter or sour notes of Filipino dishes. Chefs and tastemakers are taking to this cuisine that infuses Asian and Latin flavors and pairs very well with meat and poultry.
Filipino flavors can be quite complex. They tend to be a layering of bold flavors with fresh ingredients, which in the end, meld together to form a unique profile. Filipino food is influenced by Chinese, Malaysian, Spanish and American culinary traditions, thus a wide range of spices is often prominent. Flavors in Filipino dishes are layered and rely heavily on vegetables and fruits to build their complexity. Pineapple, coconut, jackfruit, palm nuts, tomatoes and bananas have become some of the most widely used flavoring ingredients with cassava, potatoes, yams and rice the preferred starches. Chilies are sometimes used, but not as heavily as in other parts of Asia. For the most part, Filipino food is considered a no- to mild-heat cuisine.
Animal proteins are the primary component of many Filipino dishes. The fusion of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices is balanced against hearty roasted, grilled and slow-cooked meats. Some resemble foods common to international American cuisine, while some local and regional specialties might be considered “extreme ethnic.”