Filipinos love food. We chat over food, grieve over food, and of course, celebrate over food. Many of us grew up with our grandmas’ and moms’ homecooking. And these specialties are usually from heritage recipes that have been well-kept in the family through many generations. Now, let’s see the top 3 dishes that many Filipinos swear that their moms make the best versions of. We cannot argue with that.
What Are the Dishes that Your Moms Make the Best Versions of?
Generally, Filipinos are pleasant, accommodating people. They are very comfortable with foreigners, and one of the reasons the Philippines is so frequently visited by tourists is because the people know how to make visitors feel at home.
However, while most Filipinos shun confrontations and will simply laugh along with even the most pointed verbal barbs, one thing that is sure to get their blood up. It’s even the merest suggestion that their mother’s—or grandmother’s, or some other beloved relative’s— cooking is somehow inferior to someone else’s.
Filipino families are generally very close-knit and will defend each other’s good names to the death—and that includes their skill in the kitchen. If you want to start a huge row during mealtime, bring up the following dishes and watch the sparks fly.
Arguments and Adobo Go Hand in Hand
Adobo, a dish of pieces of meat cooked in a braising liquid that usually includes vinegar, is the unofficial, frequently disputed national dish of the Philippines.
In the same way that Korean households almost always have their own kimchi recipes, Filipino homes all have their own adobo recipes. For some, adobo is a stew with pieces of chicken and lean pork cooked in soy sauce and vinegar. Meanwhile, others favor an adobong pusit recipe, which features baby squids cooked in a sauce of vinegar, spices, and squid ink.
Some adobos are very wet and are served with the braising liquid spooned liberally over them. However, others are completely dry and come with a side salad of chopped tomato and preserved salted eggs.
With such a huge array of treatments, sauces, and preparations for adobo, it’s no wonder that arguments arise from which is superior. One thing is certain though: Mom’s adobo, no matter what form it might take, is definitely the best.
Leche Flan Is Sacred, and Whichever Family Member Makes It Is a Saint
Flan is a formed milk custard, usually cooked in and topped with a caramel sauce. In the Philippines, it may as well be the monarch of all desserts. The richness of the eggs and milk, combined with the sweetness and a hint of bitterness from the caramel topping, make it a deeply satisfying finish to almost any meal pairing.
Many preparations of this divine delight also call for a hint of citrus zest infused into the custard base, adding a pleasant, floral note that contrasts with the heady richness of the custard.
Unfortunately, as delicious as leche flan is, it’s also notoriously difficult to prepare. Even the most minor inconsistencies in oven temperature could result in either under- or overcooked eggs.
In the case of the former, attempting to unmold an undercooked flan from its baking vessel will simply cause it to collapse into a messy, runny mess. Meanwhile subjecting the flan to too much heat will cause the eggs to curdle and produce a dish that’s similar to lumpy, sweet scrambled eggs.
Skill is needed in the preparation of leche flan. Whichever member of the family makes it (there’s always at least one) is held in the highest regard indeed.
Kare-Kare Might Be the Quintessential Filipino Dish (and May Cause the Biggest Fights as a Result)
While food historians, chefs, and food lovers persist in debating over whether adobo is truly the national dish of the Philippines, it could be argued that kare-kare is most representative. Made with off-cuts of meat like ox tripe and tail, this hearty stew is made with crushed peanut paste.
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Often, it features plenty of steamed vegetables. It’s also served with that most uniquely Southeast Asian condiment— fermented shrimp paste—which in the Philippines is called bagoong. The use of meat trimmings and the abundance of vegetables in the dish speak to the frugality of the Filipino people, using whatever they had on hand to produce something delicious.
Over the years, the dish has undergone many iterations, and now features versions with shrimp, mussels, and fish. There are also those with all-vegetable versions that accommodate more modern dietary restrictions. Other modern conveniences have also changed the dish somewhat, though whether this is to its benefit or not is anyone’s guess: peanut butter has replaced freshly ground roasted peanuts as the sauce base.
Purists claim that the freshly made version is far superior. However, fans of the more modern version say that as long as unsweetened peanut butter is used, diners can barely tell the difference.
To End This
It’s clear that Filipinos have a real passion for food, and sometimes, that passion leads to strange and awkward places. But it’s important to note that this passion also comes from a deep desire to provide the best experience possible for their guests and families. They just do not desire to be argumentative for its own sake. After all, one thing is certain: delicious food isn’t hard to come by in the Philippines, as any Filipino will be more than willing to tell you.