Filipino food: which dishes will work in the UK?

Filipino cuisine is multi-faceted and varied, with Austronesian (Southeast Asia, Oceania, and East Africa) origins (shared with Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines). It also takes inspiration from Indian, Chinese, Spanish, and American cuisine.

Simple meals include rich and fried salted fish. More complex dishes include fish and chicken curry, paellas (short grain rice with other ingredients – meats, beans, vegetables, saffron, rosemary), and cozidos (stews).

Common flavours used in Filipino dishes are sweet, sour, and salty. Combinations of flavours are often seen, like pairing a sweet rice porridge (champorado), with tuyo, a salted fish. Popular meats include chicken, pork, beef, and seafood. Popular fruits and vegetable used in Filipino cuisine include plantains, cabbage, aubergine, beans, coconuts, papayas, mangoes, and water spinach.

Merienda is a light meal or snack, and Filipinos typically have coffee, bread, savory and sweet pastries, noodles, dim sum, dumplings, and street food like squid and fish balls. Pulutan means “finger food”, and includes fried or grilled meats, such as pig ears, chicken feet and pig liver. Filipino soups are hearty meals designed to be a main dishes, containing large portions of meat, vegetables, and noodles.

Desserts are typically made from rice and coconuts. Bibingka is a rice cake served hot, sometimes served with butter, white cheese, or grated coconut. Halo-halo is a cold dessert made from shave ice, milk, and sugar, with coconut or custard optionally added.

Popular dishes

Lechón

Pork dish prepared for special occasions. There are two method of preparing lechón: Cebu/Visayas lechón and Manila/Luzon lechón. Visayan lechón is stuffed with herbs (bay leaves, garlic, scallions, etc.), and cooked over charcoal. Luzon lechon is seasoned with just salt and pepper, and served with a liver-based sauce, made of brown sugar, mashed liver, vinegar, and seasoning.

Lechón kawali

Longganisa

Sausages flavoured with spices. In the Philippines, longganisa can be made of pork, beef, chicken, or tuna.

Tapa

Thin slices of dried or cured meat (beef, horse meat, mutton, occasionally fish). Known as tapsilog, when served with fried rice and fried egg.

Torta

An omelette made with eggs or aubergine, ground meat, and sometimes onion and potato.

Adobo

Marinating meat, seafood or vegetables in a sauce made of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and black peppercorns. Referred to as the “unofficial national dish of the Philippines”, vinegar is a crucial part of the cooking process, used to keep the food fresher for longer.

Paksiw

Refers to dishes cooked in vinegar, such as pork or seafood cooked with vegetables. Ginger, and fish sauce is sometimes added. Though similar to adobo, the preparation and proportion of ingredients is different.

Dinuguan

Made from pork offal, and simmered in a gravy made of pig blood, chilli, vinegar and garlic.

Kaldereta

A goat meat stew, though beef, chicken, and pork can be used. It is often stewed with vegetables and a liver paste. Vegetables include bell peppers, hot peppers, olives, tomatoes and potatoes.

Mechado

A beef dish made from slowly braised beef and tomatoes, with vinegar, soy sauce, and seasonings added.

Pochero

A stew made of chunks of beef stewed with saba bananas (or plantains). It can also include chorizo, bok choy, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, cabbage, leeks, and tomato sauce. Other variants replace the beef with chicken or pork.

Pork Pochero

Afritada

A chicken, beef, or pork dish braised in tomato sauce, garlic and onion, with potatoes, bell peppers, and carrots, and served with white rice.

Kare-kare

A stew with a thick peanut sauce (mixed with onions and garlic), with the base of oxtail, calves feets, pig feet, beef, pork hocks, and sometimes offal or tripe. It can also be made with seafood or vegetables, including aubergine, green beans, okra, Chinese cabbage, and asparagus beans. It is often eaten with a shrimp paste known as bagoog, and calamansi juice.

Pinakbet

Mixed vegetables steamed in a shrimp or fish sauce. Pinakbet comes from “pinakebbet”, which means “shrivelled” or “shrunk”. Bitter melon (ampalaya) is commonly served with pinakbet, and it is spiced with onions, garlic, or ginger. Vegetables added include okra, aubergine, chili peppers, string beans, and tomatoes.

Crispy pata

Deep fried pig’s leg or trotters, often served with a soy sauce and vinegar dip.

Hamonado

Meat (typically pork, but chicken or beef is also used) that is marinated overnight and pan fried in a sweet sauce made from pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and spices. It is typically served with white rice.

Sinigang

Translating to “stewed dish”, sinigang is stew/soup, with a strong tamarind flavour. It is made from meat or seafood, and stewed with tamarind, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. Other vegetables like aubergine, water spinach, okra and white radish is sometimes added.

Pancit

Noodles. Also refers to the dish, which is served with vegetables (traditionally cabbage, carrots, bell peppers and onions), with meats or shrimp, and soy sauce.

Pancit with shrimp and pork

Lumpia

A savoury spring roll made of crepe, and filled with chopped vegetables, and sometimes minced meat

Bistek tagalog

A dish made from strips of seasoned beef, cooked slowly in soy sauce, garlic and onions, and calamansi juice.

What consumers think

We asked our consumer community if they would try the above dishes, and ranked them in order of preference. We used separate “Yes/No” steers for this. Here are the results:


The results show there is a large spread across which dishes appeal to UK consumers. Dinuguan scored the lowest, with 34.95% of people willing to try it, perhaps due to it including pig’s blood in its ingredients. Pancit, lumpia, longganisa scored highest, and this may be because of their familiarity – chicken noodles, spring rolls and sausages respectively.

Filipino cuisine is diverse and flavourful, and retailers and manufacturers in the UK can take inspiration from the flavours found in Filipino dishes, and adapt these to meals or ready meals for consumers. There is a great receptiveness to certain aspects of Filipino cuisine, and we’d be delighted to help UK producers explore consumer sentiments in more depth.

Design, test, learn. Vypr helps supercharge your product innovation, getting you better products, faster.

© 2018 Vypr Validation Technologies Ltd | Registered No. 8589377 England & Wales | Privacy Policy