Filipino food is an interesting cuisine. It has evolved over hundreds of years, from basically Spanish and Mexican roots. It has also received influence from many other cuisines such as Japanese, American, Indian, Arabic and Chinese.
The staple of Filipino cooking is rice that is usually served steamed. Leftover rice can then be added too many dishes, turning then into delicious second meals. An example of this is sinangag, which is fried rice oftentimes prepared with garlic and onions. It is typically served with fried eggs and cured meat, sausage or fried hotdogs.
Rice is an ingredient used in all meals from breakfast, lunch and dinner to desserts and afternoon snack. This afternoon snack time is referred to as Merienda, which is the same concept as afternoon tea.
Other staples include seafood of many different varieties. Milkfish, shrimp, grouper, mackerel, clams, blue marlin, squid, eel and crabs are just a few popular seafood ingredients, commonly used.
Kinilaw is a popular raw seafood salad. It is made by marinating fish or shrimp in ingredients including vinegar, onions, several spices and coconut milk.
In the eyes of traditional Filipino cooks, seafood should be used in its freshest state. This is why the seafood in many recipes, is left uncooked.
Cooked fruits and vegetables are often seen on Filipino tables. Bananas, coconuts, tomatoes, potatoes, purple yams, kamote (sweet potatoes) and carrots are utilized, year-round.
Coconuts are actually used in a variety of dishes. Guinatan are dishes of meat and vegetables, cooked in coconut milk. Bibingka is rice pudding, made with coconut milk, baked in a clay oven. It is topped with salted duck eggs and thick jam called macapuno.
Kamote and plantains are used to make a delicious skewered snack. They are each cut into small cubes, rolled in brown sugar and then grilled, on a stick, to make a yummy caramelized dessert.
The majority of Filipino recipes are a combination of spicy, sweet, sour and salty flavors. It is interesting to note that even though spices are readily used most dishes are not overly spiced. Many believe that this cuisine is somewhat bland and mild.
Common cooking methods include: deep frying, barbecuing and pickling. Stew-type meals are very popular, as well. Adobo is one such meal. It is chicken or pork that is stewed in a sauce made with peppercorns, vinegar, garlic and soy sauce. It is sometimes served dry, by boiling the liquid dry. This concentrates the flavors, immensely.