Okay, we love rice. Take that as a sweeping statement. But like, that’s completely fine since I’m 1000% correct. Filipinos throw rice on a plate around thrice a day; sometimes even more. But of course, we have to eat rice with ulam. For anyone outside the Philippines, it’s a word we use for viands, or staple food items.
We all have a favorite ulam, whether it’s something fried, boiled, steamed or grilled. Bah, pretty much anything goes if it’s with rice.
Filipino cuisine is influenced by an assortment of international flavors. We have pansit and lumpia from the Chinese, bagoong and patis from the Malays and everyone’s favorite lechon was introduced by the Spaniards. If you’re not allowed to have a bite of that crispy Lechon skin, don’t worry.
You still have a wide selection of comfort food from all over the Philippines. Let’s have a look at some of them!
1. Laswa (IloIlo)
Nothing lewd about a pot of this! This dish might resemble the more common sinigang, but it’s nowhere near as sour! Laswa is made with a selection of vegetables you could easily find in anyone’s backyard. This healthy, if slightly salty dish is made savory with the addition of shrimp. Next time you’re in IloIlo, give this ulam a try. It’s a wonderful mix of things.
2. Itlog na Maalat (Pateros)
Itlog na maalat or itlog na pula is known for its violet color. Nope, not red. Sorry, guys. In case you’re not familiar with Pateros, it’s a small municipality located between Makati and Taguig known for making alpombra and balut. These salty eggs are best eaten with diced tomatoes. Sounds weird? Try it with rice then you’ll see what we’re talking about! The salted egg flavor is everywhere on the market these days. Maybe you’ve already tried salted egg chips, but nothing beats the real thing.
3. Lomi (Batangas)
Nothing beats a warm bowl of Batangueño Lomi! Lomi’s practically the definition of comfort food. It’s got everything you need to feel warm and cozy. The thick soup along with the noodles, kikiam, meatball and a generous helping of chicharon will instantly fill you up. Don’t make the mistake of not having a bowl of this hearty goodness when you’re in Batangas!
4. Sisig (Pampanga)
Drinking a bottle of beer? Awesome. Down a swig on top of a plate of sisig! Some things just work. Wine tastes great with cheese, and Sisig’s best buddy is a cold bottle of beer. A plate of sisig is made out of a pork’s cheeks, head and liver. Some restaurants serve it with a raw egg for extra flavor. Others serve it with mayonnaise, while others just add calamansi. If you don’t eat pork, chicken or fish sisig is a thing too!
5. Bicol Express (Bicol)
Can you guess where this dish is from? This Bicolano dish is characterized by its incredibly spicy flavor. It is said that the dish is inspired by the fiery Mayon volcano, which makes perfect sense. It burns. Pork is cooked in coconut milk and given a tinge of fire by bird’s eye chili, locally known as siling labuyo. If you think you can handle the heat, then this dish is for you.
6. Lechon (Cebu)
A Filipino party just isn’t complete without the lechon. Everyone just couldn’t wait to get their hands on the crunchy skin. It’s amazing. You might want to postpone that beach trip once the lechon enters the room. Every bite is worth it, and you can tell a lot of effort goes into everything from pig selection, to how it’s prepared for the roast.