If you’re not familiar with Filipino cuisine, you’re not alone. While it may be relatively easy to find a local Chinese or Spanish restaurant, Filipino restaurants are not quite as common, which means you’re missing out on some unique flavors that this type of food is known for. One of the best things about Filipino food is how easy many of their best dishes are to create, and most don’t require complicated steps or several ingredients. You don’t have to be a professional cook to make one of these delicious dishes, you just need to carefully follow instructions and be prepared with the right ingredients and tools.
Filipino cuisine is rich, full of flavor, and often features a combination of western and eastern foods that are strongly influenced by American, Spanish, and Chinese traditions. Rice is a staple of their diet, so it makes sense that you’ll find no shortage of Filipino rice recipes ranging from side dishes to entrees and even desserts.
Below, you’ll find some of the leading recipes that have made Filipino cuisine so popular. These recipes are simple to make, especially if you have the best rice cooker for this year to handle all the heavy lifting.
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Filipino Fusion Foods
In many instances, this type of food is identified by the way it fuses European and Asian ingredients. Take pork menudo as an example. This dish can contain either bay leaves and soy sauce with cheese, or soy sauce and tomato sauce. You’ll also find many types of Asian ingredients in these dishes including lemon grass, shrimp paste, fish sauce, coconut, and chilies. In the eleventh century, Chinese traders brought cooking traditions to the Philippines, such as steaming and stir-frying. Because of this, you’ll notice a heavy Chinese influence in these dishes both in cooking methods and ingredients, including rice.
Chicken Arroz Caldo – A Filipino Christmas Rice Porridge
Rice soup, or Arroz Caldo, is a dish that’s commonly cooked in many Filipino homes, especially during the winter months. There are many variations of this dish, which often depends on the region of the Philippines it came from. However, each variation results in a hearty soup that’s very simple, filling, and comforting. This dish is often served with fish or soy sauce, scallions, fried garlic, and calamansi. Lime can be a great alternative if you can’t find calamansi. For more of a Spanish twist, you can add some saffron.
To make, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Half a teaspoon of saffron
- One inch of ginger, diced and peeled
- Two cloves of garlic
- Three tablespoons of vegetable oil or corn oil
- One small shallot or onion, diced
- One pound of chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, chopped up into one inch pieces
- One cup of jasmine rice
- Six cups of chicken stock
- Calamansi or two limes
- Three spring onions for garnish
- Two tablespoons of salt or fish sauce
In a large pot, heat up the oil and sauté the garlic until crispy, then place the garlic on a paper towel to drain. Add saffron, onion, and ginger to the pot, cooking until the ingredients are translucent. Stir in the chicken and brown for five minutes. Add the fish sauce or salt, chicken stock, and rice. Cover the pot and bring it to a gentle boil. Next, simmer on low heat for thirty minutes. You can add more stock to the pot if the soup is too thick. This porridge should be served in a deep bowl and topped with calamansi, or lime juice, spring onions, and fried garlic.
Bibingka – A Christmas Rice Cake From the Philippines
This is a dish that’s usually eaten during the Christmas season. It’s a type of rice cake that has a slightly salty and sweet flavor, with a spongy texture. This cake can be eaten at room temperature or hot. This cake is often paired with a cup of hot chocolate or ginger tea.
There are many different types of bibingka, which can easily be recognized due to its banana leaf lining. The lining is usually charred to bring out the more complex flavors of the cake. The ingredients can vary depending on regions, but most recipes are made using rice flour. If you truly want to make this cake out of scratch, check out my guide on how to make your own rice flour.
- The most common type is made out of salted eggs, rice flour, water, and grated coconut.
- Another variation includes a sticky rice recipe that uses sticky rice flour for a sweeter, stickier texture.
- Manadue is a type of bibingka that’s made using palm sap or tuba sap, which is an alcoholic drink that’s used in place of traditional yeast. This version is said to have a very acidic aftertaste.
- Cassava bibingka is made from cassava flour and looks just like rice pudding.
The traditional way to make this dessert is to use banana leaves, charcoals, and terra cotta pots, in addition to ingredients such as coconut milk, water, eggs, and rice flour. (If you don’t have terra cotta pots, you can easily substitute with these fluted non-stick aluminum molds)
These ingredients are poured into the terra cotta containers where they’re toasted, heated, and flavored.
The cake can be topped with:
- Kesong puti
- Salted eggs
- Grated coconut
Preparing this dish can be very time-consuming. Fortunately, I’ve included a much simpler recipe that’s easy to follow and will take a fraction of the time to prepare.
To make the cake, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- One cup of sugar
- Two salted eggs
- Two cups of fresh rice flour
- Three eggs
- One cup of coconut milk
- Half a cup of butter
- Six banana leaves
- One tablespoon of baking powder
- Half a cup of sticky rice flour
- For the cake’s toppings, you’ll use:
- One tablespoon of sugar
- One tablespoon of coconut
- One tablespoon of cheddar cheese
- One tablespoon of butter
Begin by preheating the oven to three hundred and seventy-five degrees. Take the banana leaves and brush the surface lightly with butter. Grab a deep baking dish and line it with the banana leaves.
Combine the coconut milk, butter, and eggs. Put the sticky rice flour, regular rice flour, and sugar in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Combine both the rice and egg mixtures, mix well and pour them into the pan. The mixture should be topped with the salted eggs. Bake the cake for twenty-five minutes. Once it’s ready to come out of the oven, brush the top of the cakes with butter. Next, you’ll place them in the broiler until the tops of the cakes are a light brown. This should only take approximately two to three minutes. After their time in the broiler, the cakes will be ready for their toppings.
If you love seafood, then you’ll love this uniquely flavored rice dish that’s often topped with clams, mussels, squid, and shrimp. Like most Filipino dishes, this recipe tends to vary based on region, however, the spices used often remain the same.
For this recipe, you’ll need to complete many different steps. The first is preparing a paste, which consists of paprika, parsley, and garlic. These are important ingredients since they’re what gives this dish its powerful flavor.
To make the paste:
Take three garlic cloves and pound them gently on a mortar and pestle until it becomes a paste. Combine the paprika, garlic, salt, and parsley, adding two tablespoons of garlic and pound them all together using the mortar and pestle. This should be done until the ingredients form a thick paste.
Once you’ve made the paste, you can get started cooking.
The squid and shrimp must be partially cooked in oil to allow the oil to absorb some of their flavor. Place two tablespoons of oil in a medium-sized frying pan and fry up the squid and shrimp quickly. Remove the food from the pan and set them aside on a paper towel. Sauté the tomato and onion in the same oil until tender. After this step, add some green peas with the paste you made earlier, as well as the clam juice.
Once you bring this mixture to a boil, add the rice and saffron. While pricey, saffron is an important ingredient and shouldn’t be substituted. Once the rice has been added you’ll cover the pan and allow it to cook for approximately ten minutes. Next, you’ll remove the lid and arrange the mussels, clams, squid, and shrimp on the top and cover the pan again. Cook for twenty-five minutes. Top with lemon wedges.
For this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- One large lemon
- One tablespoon of garlic paste
- One small pepper
- One tablespoon of paprika
- One cup of peas
- One cup of water
- One medium tomato
- Half a cup of parsley
- Sixteen ounces of clam juice
- One large squid sliced
- Twelve mussels
- Twelve tiger shrimp
- Twelve little-neck clams
- Two cups of paella rice
- One teaspoon of saffron
- One medium onion
- Four tablespoons of olive oil
- One teaspoon of salt
There are many variations of this dish, however, it’s often rice-based. Feel free to change it up in terms of the type of seafood you top the rice dish with, but don’t leave out the main spices, since these are crucial to the unique flavor of this dish.
Filipino garlic fried rice, also called Sinangag is a classic dish that any garlic lover will die for. The garlic in this dish takes a basic fried rice dish to a whole new level, giving it some serious flavor that can easily turn this side dish into an entrée. This dish is very easy to make and doesn’t contain a large variety of ingredients like Chinese fried rice does. The garlic does an impressive job of elevating the flavor, which turns this simple side dish into a flavor-packed main course.
The first step is frying the rice. You’ll use a skillet or wok for this step. Heat the oil up and add some minced garlic. Next, you’ll fry the garlic until it reaches a golden color. During this step, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the garlic to prevent burning it. Remove the garlic from the oil and add cooked rice to the pan. You can use a rice cooker, such as the Panasonic Rice Cooker, to whip up six cups of basmati or jasmine rice. The key to making this dish correctly is cooking the rice undisturbed. Once the rice is added to the pan, you’ll coat it in the garlic-flavored oil and allow it to cook for five minutes, which will give it a nice crust.
Next, reintroduce the cooked garlic, in addition to salt and pepper.
This dish is usually served at breakfast, alongside omelets or fried eggs. If you want to get more creative, you can add some meat such as pork or cooked chicken, and veggies such as carrots or peas, to the fried garlic. These ingredients will instantly turn this side dish into an entrée.
For this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Six tablespoons of olive oil
- Six cups of cooked basmati or jasmine rice
- Two tablespoons of minced garlic
- One cup of cooked peas
- One cup of cooked carrots
- One pound of diced chicken thighs
- One pound of diced pork
(Now for the sake of preperation time and ease, I often use a pre-packaged Sinangag seasoning mix. Mama Sita’s is far any away the most popular brand in the Philippines. I strongly recommend it)
Filipino Chocolate Rice Pudding Recipe
Filipino chocolate rice pudding, also called champorado, should not be confused with the Mexican champurrado, which is a type of hot chocolate beverage. This dish is usually eaten as just a snack or it can be eaten for breakfast. Some recipes call for milk while others will include condensed milk that’s used as a topping. This particular recipe is milk-free and is sweetened with sugar.
To make, you’ll begin by adding three cups of rice to a pot of water and heating on medium heat. Cook until the rice is nice and tender. Once the rice is cooked, you’ll need to use the appropriate rice cooking accessories to drain the rice and ensure no water remains.
Next, you’ll add the cocoa powder, mixing it into the rice thoroughly. Mix in the sugar as well and serve. This dish is best served nice and hot.
For this recipe, you’ll need to use the following ingredients:
- Half a cup of sugar
- Half a cup of pure cocoa
- Three cups of sticky rice
This is a type of simple sweet dessert that’s made out of sticky rice. So, if you’ve always wanted to learn how to make sweet rice, this is the perfect dish since it contains only a few ingredients and some basic steps. Essentially, this is a foolproof recipe that even the amateur cook can make. This recipe includes sticky rice, brown sugar, and coconut milk. There are many ways you can prepare this popular dish. Some people will use a rice cooker, while others will prepare it in a pot on the stove.
For this recipe, you’ll need:
- One and a half cups of water
- Three fourteen ounce cans of coconut milk
- Four cups of prepared sticky rice
- One teaspoon of sea salt
- Two and a half cups of brown sugar
To begin, you’ll place uncooked rice in a bowl filled with water and allow the rice to soak overnight. In the morning, rinse and drain the rice. Preheat your oven to three hundred and fifty degrees. Use a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.
Set aside three-quarters of a cup of the coconut, pour the remaining milk and the water into a large pot. Place the pot on the stove on medium heating, bringing it to a simmer. Next, you’ll add the rice. Stir frequently, to prevent the rice from sticking to the sides of the pot. Continue cooking for ten minutes until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid. Lower the heat and add one and a half cups of brown sugar and salt to the rice. Cook for an additional five minutes and continue to stir constantly. The rice mixture should then be transferred to the greased pan and evenly spread out.
Next, in a small pan, use the remaining coconut milk and brown sugar, bringing it to a boil until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the stove and allow it to cool for five minutes. Next, you’ll pour it over the rice mixture.
Place the dish in the oven and bake for one hour until the sugar topping begins to bubble. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool before serving.
These Filipino rice recipes can be a great way to liven up your weekly menu. The best thing about them is the fact that many contain very few ingredients and steps, so even the amateur can cook a flavor-packed dish that’s sure to impress the family. With the right tools, ingredients, and the help of your favorite rice cooker, you can easily and effortlessly create your own Filipino three-course meal using the recipes I’ve included here, no experience required.