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National l Regional l Desserts l Ingredients l Cooking Methods

Regional Dishes

Considering that there are 16 regions in the Philippines, it is not surprising to taste "regional diversities" in their food. Although Filipino food consists of simple and tropical cuisine, yet various styles have mushroomed in major regions. The variations in regional taste buds are traceable based on factors like natural resources - the produce of different lands and seas, animals and plants as well as to the regional character of locals of different islands.


The Ilocos region in the northwest coast of Luzon appears in the form of a strip of land located between the mountains and the sea. It is in this region that five provinces share the same food, language and rugged challenges of nature. Generally, Ilocanos is a thrifty and tough bunch of people, relying heavily on what the dry and hot land can offer. Vegetables and rice make up a big portion of their diet while meat are eaten sparingly. Pinakbet, a popular Ilocanos vegetable dish is a combination of tomatoes, aubergine, bittermelon, lima beans, okra and squash, all bound together with a salty sauce made from fermented fish or shrimp called bagoong.

Fortunately for the Ilocanos, meat are eaten sparingly because most Ilocanos' meat dishes are high in cholesterol. Among the fattening meat dishes are lomo (a pork liver and kidneys soup), Chinese sausage (longganisa) and bagnet (dried pork belly that is deep-fried with a salty sauce called bagoong).


The locals in Bulacan, located in the rice-and-sugar lands of Central Luzon believe in the motto that one should not eat anything unless it gives you a pleasurable effect. The cooking methods in this region is slow, conventional and very assorted as it has a wide ingredient resources. In this land, eels are simmered in coconut cream, salt-water fish in vinegar and ginger, while fish from the river are boiled in palm wine or citrus. Apart from that, Bulakenos are also specialists in meat dishes. It is claimed that Bulacan chefs make the best relleno and galantina (stuffed chicken rolls); estofado (pork leg) and asado (pot roast), and kare-kare (oxtail stewed in peanut sauce).

The Visayas

Several cuisine in the big island group known as the Visayas reflect the Chinese influence as well as that of the seas. In the Iloilo City, one can find delicious noodle soups like pancit molo, a type of soup surrounded with a mixture of prawn, chicken and pork dumplings. On top of that, this city is also famous for its scrumptious lumpiang ubod, heart of palm in soft crepes.

Another city in the Visayas called Bacolod, is well known as the founder of binakol, chicken soup based on sweet water of the young coconut (buko). Besides that, another cuisine known as inasal, a barbecued chicken marinated in annatto and citrus also originated from Bacolod.

Fancy a taste of fresh raw fish or meat? In the Visayas, kinilaw - the marinating of fish, shellfish and meat in vinegar or other souring agents for the purpose of eating it raw is at its pristine best. The preparation of kinilaw in Dumaguete uses palm-wine vinegar, lime, chilies and coconut cream.

Bicol Region

The Bicol region consist of six provinces along the southeastern peninsula of Luzon and is famous for the smallest fish in the world, the grand Mayon Volcano, pili nuts, coconut forests and of course, spicy-hot coconut-creamy food. The Bicol region is synonymous with coconut cream (gata). Don't be surprised that chili pepper and gata can taste really delicious when mix together to create the popular local Bicol dish called pinangat. In this palatable dish, shredded taro leaves and bits of tasty meat are stuffed into little bundle of taro (gabi) leaves which are then, simmered in coconut cream and edged with a fistful of sili (chilies).


This region, located on the far south, offers a wide variety of exotic cuisine, that are greatly influenced by the Malays. Like in many Malay dishes, spices are used liberally. Among those are turmeric, garlic, ginger, roasted coconut and chilies. The locals like to eat their seafood raw, grilled or fried. At times, they would cook it in soups with lemon grass, ginger and green papayas, or coconut cream and turmeric. As for meat such as chicken, it is either mixed with taro in stinging soup or served in curry. Kamoteng kahoy (cassava) is boiled and grated into cakes while root crops are eaten together with rice. The highly favored glutinous rice is prepared with turmeric and pimento or often combined with spices, prawns or coconut milk.

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