A meal isn’t a meal without rice. I don’t care what you’re eating it with.
But for a clear demonstration, there's a lot of stuff you could eat rice with. We call those dishes “ulam.”
And the perfect rice-to-ulam ratio is a skill you can only acquire with years and years of experience.
Anyway, I digress. Here are some examples of ulam. There’s kaldereta, which is a stew made from chicken (or beef or pork), tomato sauce, potatoes, and bell peppers.
There’s also afritada, which, for clarity, is also a chicken (or beef or pork) stew made from tomato sauce, potatoes, and bell peppers. If you ever get confused between afritada and kaldereta, just ask the cook what it is. Easy.
And then there’s menudo. Not to be confused with the 70's Latino boy band, it’s a stew made from tomato sauce, potatoes, carrots, pork, and pork liver.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on to sinigang and adobo. While there’s a huge debate about which of these two is the Philippines’ national dish, one thing we can all agree upon is that both are fucking delicious.
Sinigang is a hot and sour soup. There’s no single right way to cook sinigang, but Filipinos usually use unripe tamarind for its base and pork as the main ingredient.
Green leafy vegetables are an important ingredient. It could either be water spinach, Chinese white cabbage, or bok choy. It doesn’t matter. It’ll still taste superb.
Adobo, on the other hand, isn’t all that big on veggies.
You can, however, cook certain vegetables as adobo, like water spinach and string beans. Hope that clears it up.
Everybody thinks there’s a secret in cooking something so fucking bomb, but it’s really just soy sauce, vinegar, your choice of meat, garlic, onions, and bayleaf.
Oh, and one more thing…
We also eat rice in the morning. In fact, I’ll go ahead and say it’s the best kind of breakfast there is, no offense to an English breakfast.
You can call it Filipino breakfast if that’s easier for you, but we prefer to be creative and call it silog meals, which basically is a wordplay for sinangag (garlic rice) and itlog (eggs).
The garlic rice and eggs are a staple, but the main meat could vary from tapa (beef marinated in soy sauce and lots of garlic), longganisa (Filipino sausages), tocino (sweet pork), or daing na bangus (milkfish marinated in garlic, vinegar, and spices).
If a heavy breakfast isn’t your kinda thing, no need to worry. Just dunk a pandesal into your morning cup of coffee, as you would with Oreo and milk, except much better because pandesal is the tastiest shit at local bakeries.
Speaking of creativity in naming food, Filipinos also have a pretty interesting way of calling our street food.
While you may call this grilled chicken feet, we call it Adidas.
These are grilled coagulated pork blood, but we prefer to call it Betamax.
And lastly, this is a dirty ice cream. It’s not really dirty. It’s perfectly safe to eat. Think of it as how you would call your dirty kitchen dirty. It’s not really dirty, but it’s where the motherfucking magic happens.
Moving on to things that aren’t weird, our spaghetti is sweet. And yes, we put sugar and cut up hotdogs in it.
Filipino spaghetti is always present in birthday parties. So is lumpia—fried spring rolls with pork and spices inside. The only way to eat these is to inhale them by the dozen.
There’s also fresh lumpia, which isn’t named to shit on the freshness of the OG lumpia. It’s made of a medley of veggies and shredded meat—a much healthier option, if you will.
Speaking of birthday parties, it’s not complete with a bunch of titos holding bottles of beer and munching on sisig.
Contrary to what a popularized sisig is, the original recipe, which came from the province of Pampanga, isn’t supposed to be served in a sizzling plate.
The pig’s face and ears are boiled, grilled, chopped, then mixed with liver, salt and pepper, onions, and calamansi juice.
Sisig can also refer to a type of vegetable salad. If you ever get confused, just look at the sisig and if it doesn’t look like it’s gonna give you high blood pressure, then it’s probably the vegetable one.
FINALLY, dessert. We call this sapin-sapin, and I wouldn’t recommend shortening it to “sapin” because that would turn it into a completely different things which is “mat.”
So there ya go. Hope that cleared everything up. Kain tayo!