Filipino Cuisine: Delicious Dishes Your Filipina Girlfriend Will Cook for You

Filipino cuisine is a vibrant and diverse culinary tradition that reflects the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines. If you’re in a relationship with a Filipina, you’re in for a gastronomic treat. From savory stews to sweet desserts, your Filipina girlfriend will likely introduce you to a variety of delicious dishes that are staples in Filipino households. This article explores some of the most beloved Filipino dishes that she might cook for you, each with its own unique flavors and preparation methods.

Key Takeaways

  • Filipino cuisine offers a wide range of dishes, from savory stews like Adobo to sweet treats like Bibingka.
  • Each dish has unique flavors and preparation methods, often influenced by regional ingredients and traditions.
  • Filipino food is best enjoyed with family and loved ones, reflecting the importance of communal dining in Filipino culture.
  • Many Filipino dishes are versatile, with various recipes and variations to suit different tastes and dietary preferences.
  • Learning to cook Filipino dishes can deepen your appreciation for the culture and strengthen your relationship with your Filipina girlfriend.

Adobo: A Staple in Every Filipino Household

If there’s one dish that stands out in Filipino cuisine, it’s adobo. Often regarded as the unofficial national dish of the Philippines, adobo is more than just a meal; it’s a cooking method that involves stewing meat with vinegar. This dish existed long before Spanish colonization and has countless variations across different regions and households. Dating a Filipina? You’re in for a treat, as her version of adobo will likely become your favorite comfort food.

Sinigang: A Comforting Sour Soup

Sinigang is a beloved Filipino dish known for its refreshing, sour flavor. This comforting soup typically includes meat or fish and a variety of vegetables. The sourness can be derived from ingredients like unripe tamarind, guava, calamansi, green mango, tomato, or kamias (bilimbi). Growing up, many Filipinos enjoy pork sinigang, but it can also be made with chicken, salmon, or shrimp.

Traditional Pork Sinigang

Pork sinigang is a staple in many Filipino households. The tamarind soup base gives it a nice zing, making it perfect for cold days or when someone is feeling under the weather. This dish is often cooked in large batches and reheated throughout the week for snacks, lunches, and dinners.

Seafood Sinigang

For a different twist, seafood sinigang is a delightful alternative. Shrimp or fish can be used instead of pork, providing a lighter yet equally flavorful version of this classic soup. The seafood adds a unique taste that pairs wonderfully with the sour broth.

Vegetarian Sinigang Options

Vegetarian sinigang is also a popular choice, substituting meat with a variety of vegetables. This version is just as delicious and offers a healthy alternative for those who prefer a plant-based diet. Common vegetables used include eggplant, radish, and water spinach.

Sinigang is not just a dish; it’s a comforting experience that brings families together, showcasing the love and care Filipino women express through cooking.

Lechon: The Ultimate Celebration Dish

Filipino lechon

Lechon is the crowning centerpiece of any Filipino fiesta, a whole spit-roasted suckling pig that embodies the essence of celebration. This dish, with its Spanish colonial roots, has become a staple in Filipino culture, symbolizing abundance and festivity. The preparation of lechon is a labor of love, requiring extensive effort and time, but the result is a culinary masterpiece that is well worth it.

Preparing Lechon at Home

While traditional lechon is spit-roasted over an open flame, modern adaptations allow for easier preparation at home. One popular method involves slow-cooking the pig in a Crock Pot before finishing it in the oven to achieve that signature crispy skin and tender meat. This approach makes it possible to enjoy lechon without the need for a large outdoor setup.

Lechon Sauce Recipes

Lechon is often served with a versatile pork liver-based sauce known as lechon sauce or "Filipino gravy." This sauce enhances the flavors of the crispy pork and adds a rich, savory element to the dish. Some variations of the sauce include ingredients like vinegar, garlic, and breadcrumbs, each adding a unique twist to the traditional recipe.

Leftover Lechon Ideas

Leftover lechon can be transformed into a variety of delicious dishes, ensuring that none of this prized pork goes to waste. Some popular options include:

  • Lechon Paksiw: A stew made by simmering leftover lechon in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and lechon sauce.
  • Lechon Kawali: Deep-fried pork belly slices that are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
  • Lechon Salad: A refreshing dish that combines chopped lechon with fresh vegetables and a tangy dressing.

Lechon is more than just a dish; it’s a celebration of Filipino culture and a testament to the country’s rich culinary traditions.

Pancit: Noodles for Every Occasion

Filipino pancit noodles

Pancit is the blanket term for Filipino noodle dishes, and no party is complete without an oversized platter of noodles. Introduced by Chinese traders, noodles symbolize prosperity, long life, and good luck. There are many kinds of pancit dishes, each with its own unique twist.

Kare-Kare: A Rich Peanut Stew

Kare-Kare, which translates to "curry-curry," is a beloved Filipino dish known for its rich and savory peanut sauce. Traditionally made with oxtail and tripe, the gravy is thickened using pounded toasted rice and peanuts. However, many modern recipes opt for creamy peanut butter to achieve the same delicious flavor.

Beef Kare-Kare Recipe

For a more accessible version, you can use beef chunks instead of oxtail. This variation is just as flavorful and can be prepared in an Instant Pot for convenience. Serve this with plain white or brown rice, and you’ll fall in love with this comforting Filipino dish.

Vegetarian Kare-Kare

For those who prefer a meatless option, vegetarian Kare-Kare is equally delightful. Substitute the meat with hearty vegetables like eggplant, long beans, and banana blossoms. The rich peanut sauce pairs wonderfully with the natural flavors of the vegetables.

Best Sides for Kare-Kare

Kare-Kare is often enjoyed with a side of bagoong (fermented shrimp paste), which adds a salty contrast to the dish’s rich flavors. Other popular sides include steamed vegetables and a simple salad to balance the meal.

Lumpia: Filipino Spring Rolls

Filipino spring rolls Lumpia

Lumpia, the Filipino version of spring rolls, are a beloved dish that often graces the tables of Filipino households and gatherings. These crispy, fried snacks are typically filled with a mixture of pork and vegetables, making them both flavorful and satisfying. Lumpia is a dish that you can easily find yourself eating by the dozen, especially when paired with delicious dipping sauces like sweet chili or vinegar-soy.

Classic Lumpia Shanghai

Lumpiang Shanghai, tightly wound egg rolls stuffed with a pork and vegetable filling, are a perennial party favorite. Making lumpia is a fairly labor-intensive process, so it’s quite common for family members to set up an assembly line to produce large batches. Because of their diminutive size, these crispy, fried snacks are both easy to fill up on and the first to disappear from the table.

Fresh Lumpia Recipe

Fresh Lumpia, also known as Lumpiang Sariwa, offers a healthier alternative to the fried version. These spring rolls are filled with a mix of fresh vegetables and sometimes shrimp, all wrapped in a soft, crepe-like wrapper. They are typically served with a sweet peanut sauce that complements the fresh ingredients perfectly.

Dipping Sauces for Lumpia

The right dipping sauce can elevate your lumpia experience. Here are some popular options:

  • Sweet Chili Sauce: A perfect blend of sweet and spicy.
  • Vinegar-Soy Sauce: A tangy and salty option that cuts through the richness of the fried rolls.
  • Peanut Sauce: Often used for fresh lumpia, this sauce adds a creamy and nutty flavor.

Making lumpia can be a fun and rewarding experience, especially when done with family. The process of rolling and frying these delicious spring rolls can bring people together, creating lasting memories and delicious food.

Bibingka: A Festive Rice Cake


Traditional Bibingka Recipe

Bibingka is a beloved Filipino sweet rice cake that is especially popular during the holiday season. Made with rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar, this delightful treat is often topped with salted eggs and cheese. The unique flavor and texture come from cooking it in clay pots lined with banana leaves, which impart a subtle aroma and flavor to the cake. Check out our recipe for bibingka (sweet rice cake with coconut) to experience this festive delight at home.

Modern Bibingka Twists

While traditional bibingka remains a favorite, modern variations have emerged, adding exciting twists to the classic recipe. Some popular adaptations include adding ube (purple yam) for a vibrant color and unique taste, or incorporating chocolate for a rich, decadent version. These modern twists keep the essence of bibingka while introducing new flavors that appeal to a broader audience.

Serving Suggestions for Bibingka

Bibingka is best enjoyed warm, straight from the oven. It pairs wonderfully with a hot cup of coffee or tea, making it a perfect breakfast or snack option. For a more festive presentation, serve bibingka with a side of freshly grated coconut and a drizzle of condensed milk. This not only enhances the flavor but also adds a touch of indulgence to this already delightful treat.

Bibingka is more than just a dessert; it’s a symbol of Filipino culture and tradition, bringing families together during special occasions and holidays.

Halo-Halo: A Refreshing Dessert

Ingredients for Halo-Halo

Halo-Halo, which means "mix-mix" in Tagalog, is a delightful Filipino dessert that combines a variety of ingredients to create a refreshing treat. The essential components include shaved ice, sweetened beans, fruits, and a scoop of ube ice cream. Each layer adds a unique texture and flavor, making every bite an adventure.

Layering Techniques

Creating the perfect Halo-Halo involves careful layering of ingredients. Start with a base of shaved ice, then add sweetened beans, fruits, and jellies. Top it off with a generous scoop of ube ice cream and a slice of leche flan. The key is to ensure that each layer is evenly distributed for a balanced taste.

Variations of Halo-Halo

While the traditional Halo-Halo is already a treat, there are numerous variations you can try. Some popular options include adding coconut meat, table cream, or sweetened condensed milk. For a more indulgent version, you can even include a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

Halo-Halo is not just a dessert; it’s an experience that showcases the rich culinary heritage of the Philippines.

Arroz Caldo: Filipino Rice Porridge

Arroz Caldo is the Filipino equivalent of congee, but with a Spanish name. This hearty chicken and rice porridge, often used as a cold remedy, is seasoned with garlic, ginger, and patis (fish sauce) for a comforting dish that’s suitable as part of a meal or as an afternoon snack. Traveling to the Philippines will give you the perfect opportunity to taste this delightful dish.

Chicken Arroz Caldo Recipe

When you need a little TLC, there’s nothing better than chicken and rice soup, and in the Philippines, Arroz Caldo is the answer to a comforting bowl. This is my quick and easy, fast and speedy way of making Arroz Caldo. Ready in just about half an hour, it’s perfect for weeknight dinners.

Arroz Caldo with a Twist

For those looking to experiment, adding a twist to the traditional Arroz Caldo can be exciting. Consider incorporating saffron for a unique flavor or topping it with crispy garlic and green onions for added texture.

Toppings for Arroz Caldo

Enhance your Arroz Caldo with a variety of toppings:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Fried garlic
  • Green onions
  • Calamansi (Philippine lime)

Arroz Caldo is not just a dish; it’s a warm hug in a bowl, perfect for any time of the day.

Bicol Express: Spicy and Creamy Delight

Bicol Express is pure comfort food! With pork cubes cooked in coconut milk and chili peppers, it’s rich, creamy, spicy, and delicious! This dish hails from the Bicol region of the Philippines, known for its love of spicy food and abundant use of coconut milk. Bicol Express is a must-try for anyone who enjoys a bit of heat in their meals.

Authentic Bicol Express Recipe

To make an authentic Bicol Express, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb pork belly, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 5-6 Thai chili peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a pan, sauté the garlic and onion until fragrant.
  2. Add the pork belly and cook until browned.
  3. Stir in the shrimp paste and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the chili peppers and let it cook until the pork is tender.
  6. Stir in the coconut cream and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Simmer for another 5 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Vegetarian Bicol Express

For a vegetarian twist on this classic dish, substitute the pork with tofu or mushrooms. The rich, creamy sauce pairs perfectly with these alternatives, making it just as satisfying.

Pairing Bicol Express with Other Dishes

Bicol Express pairs wonderfully with steamed rice, which helps balance the spiciness of the dish. You can also serve it alongside other Filipino favorites like Adobo or Sinigang for a complete meal. For a refreshing contrast, try pairing it with a simple cucumber salad or pickled vegetables.

Turon: Sweet Banana Rolls

Turon, also known as banana lumpia, is a beloved Filipino dessert that combines the classic Philippine love for rolls and wraps with the sweetness of plantains. This treat is perfect for family gatherings or as a delightful snack on a summer day.

Ginataan: Coconut Milk Delights

Ginataan is a beloved Filipino dish that showcases the rich and creamy flavors of coconut milk. This versatile dish can be enjoyed in both sweet and savory forms, making it a staple in Filipino cuisine. Filipino women excel in cooking dishes like ginataan, which can be a delightful addition to any meal.

Ginataang Halo-Halo

Ginataang Halo-Halo is a sweet version of ginataan that combines various ingredients such as sweet potatoes, bananas, and tapioca pearls, all cooked in coconut milk. This dessert is often enjoyed warm and is perfect for satisfying your sweet tooth.

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo

Ginataang Bilo-Bilo features chewy rice balls made from glutinous rice flour, mixed with coconut milk, jackfruit, and sweet potatoes. The combination of textures and flavors makes this dish a favorite among Filipinos.

Savory Ginataan Dishes

Savory ginataan dishes often include proteins like shrimp, chicken, or pork, cooked in a creamy coconut milk sauce. These dishes are usually spiced with garlic, onions, and chili, offering a perfect balance of flavors. You can also experiment with vegetables to create a vegetarian version of savory ginataan.


Exploring Filipino cuisine with your Filipina girlfriend is not just about savoring delicious dishes; it’s a journey into the heart of Filipino culture and family values. From the tangy and savory flavors of adobo to the comforting warmth of arroz caldo, each dish tells a story of tradition, love, and community. As you enjoy these meals together, you’ll not only deepen your appreciation for the rich culinary heritage of the Philippines but also strengthen your bond with your partner. So, embrace the opportunity to experience these delightful dishes and the love that comes with them, making every meal a cherished memory.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular Filipino dish?

One of the most popular Filipino dishes is Adobo, which can be made with chicken, pork, or a combination of both. Its unique flavor comes from a marinade of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and various spices.

Is Filipino food spicy?

Filipino cuisine is generally not very spicy compared to other Southeast Asian cuisines. However, there are some spicy dishes like Bicol Express and Laing that use chili peppers for heat.

Can I find vegetarian options in Filipino cuisine?

Yes, there are vegetarian options in Filipino cuisine. Dishes like Vegetarian Kare-Kare, Vegetarian Sinigang, and various vegetable stir-fries can be enjoyed by those who prefer plant-based meals.

What are some must-try Filipino desserts?

Some must-try Filipino desserts include Halo-Halo, a mixed dessert with shaved ice and various toppings, Bibingka, a type of rice cake, and Turon, sweet banana rolls.

What is the best way to cook Lechon at home?

Cooking Lechon at home can be challenging due to the need for a whole pig and a spit-roast setup. However, you can try making Lechon Belly, which is more manageable and can be cooked in an oven.

Are there any Filipino noodle dishes?

Yes, Filipino cuisine features a variety of noodle dishes such as Pancit Canton, Pancit Bihon, and Pancit Malabon. These dishes are often served during celebrations and gatherings.

What is the significance of food in Filipino culture?

Food plays a central role in Filipino culture, often bringing families together during meals and celebrations. Sharing food is a way to show love and hospitality.

Can I make Filipino dishes if I don’t have access to Filipino ingredients?

While some ingredients may be specific to Filipino cuisine, many dishes can be adapted using locally available ingredients. Asian grocery stores often carry Filipino products, and some ingredients can be substituted with similar ones.

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