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From Adobo to Lumpia: A Beginner’s Guide to Filipino Cuisine

Are you tired of the usual fast food chains and looking for a new culinary adventure? Look no further than Filipino cuisine! Filipino dishes are unique and delicious, blending Spanish, Chinese, and Malay influences. 

From the spicy marinated meat in adobo to the crispy spring rolls known as lumpia, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant cuisine. In this beginner’s guide to Filipino food, we’ll explore some of the most popular dishes and share tips on how to cook them yourself. 

So grab your apron and get ready to experience a taste of the Philippines!

What is Filipino food?

Filipino food is a mix of Indian, Spanish, and Chinese influences. The most popular dish is the ubiquitous adobo (pronounced ah-doh-boh), a slow-cooked pork dish that often features garlic, onions, and bay leaves. 

Other famous words include lumpia (an egg roll), pancit (a rice noodle soup), and chicken liver pâté. For dessert, try the uniquely Filipino bibingka (rice cake with sweetened condensed milk).

History of Filipino cuisine

Filipino cuisine has a long and varied history. It ranges from the aromatic, delicious adobo sauce to the crispy Lumpia wrapper. This beginner’s guide will teach you about some of the most popular Filipino dishes and give you an overview of their history.

Adobo is a robust, flavorful sauce that originates from the Philippines. It is typically made with chicken or pork, tomato paste, garlic, and salt. The dish can be served over rice or noodles and is often garnished with green onions or fresh cilantro.

Lumpia is a small pastry made from deep-fried wheat flour dough until golden brown and crispy. They are usually stuffed with shrimp, pork, vegetables, and sometimes egg. Popular toppings include sweet chili sauce or vinegar dressing.

Pinakbet is a mix of Filipino vegetables such as cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, beansprouts, and mushrooms cooked in seasoned water or broth. It can also include meat such as chicken or pork if desired.

Taco is not a Filipino dish per se, but it is one of the most popular foods in the country and has become a symbol of Philippine culture. Filipinos love their tacos piled high with all sorts of toppings, including salsa, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes even avocado!

Food categories in Filipino cuisine

Filipino cuisine is a diverse and exciting mix of Chinese, Malay, Spanish, and indigenous influences. Filipino cuisine has over 100 different kinds of food, from the ubiquitous adobo to the exotic lumpia. This article will give you an overview of Filipino cuisine’s most common food categories, with recipes for some of our favorites.

In Filipino cuisine, there are a variety of different food categories that are all based on either vegetables or meat. 


  • Adobo: A traditional sauce made out of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and ground pork or chicken. It’s usually served with rice and sometimes mixed with other ingredients such as eggs or peanuts.
  • Crispy Pata: Fried pork skin is often served as an appetizer or main course. It’s usually battered and deep-fried until it’s crispy and golden brown. 
  • Kakanin: Salted codfish cooked in coconut milk and spices. It can be enjoyed as an appetizer or main course, depending on how it is prepared.
  • Kare-kare: A type of stew made out of tripe, beef balls, boiled eggs, and other ingredients simmered for hours until it becomes thick and hearty tasting. 
  • Lapu-Lapu: A type of Southeast Asian stir fry comprising noodles (usually egg noodles), vegetables, and meat (usually chicken or shrimp). 
  • Manok: A fish usually coated in a mixture of spices and deep-fried until crispy. It can be served as an appetizer, main course, or snack. 
  • Paksiw: A soup made of pork intestines, water chestnuts, and other ingredients simmered for hours. It can be spiced to taste or unsalted to enjoy as a broth without added salt. 
  • Pinakbet: A fruit salad of fruits such as mangoes, bananas, and pineapples mixed with sugar and sometimes nuts. 
  • Sinigang: A stew made from beef,立肝菜 (littleneck fungus), tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, and chili peppers. It’s simmered until it becomes thick and hearty tasting. 
  • Tinola: A type of seafood dish made out of squid ink pasta tossed with shrimp or calamari cooked in a light sauce made out of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and red pepper flakes.


There is no one definitive way to cook Filipino cuisine, as the various regions and villages have their own unique dishes. However, many of the same ingredients and techniques are used throughout the islands. This guide will provide step-by-step instructions for a few popular Filipino dishes.

  1. Adobo, or adobo sauce, is a famous dipping sauce made from soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and brown sugar. You can make your own adobo sauce or purchase it in stores or online.
  2. Lumpia (lah-pee-ah) are spring rolls made with rice flour dough wrappers deep-fried until crispy and golden brown. They can be filled with savory and sweet ingredients, such as chicken, beef, shrimp, vegetables, and cheese. Lumpia can also be served cold as an appetizer or snack.
  3. Pusit (poo-sit) is a noodle dish made from rice flour noodles boiled in water before being tossed with vegetables and meat in a broth. Pusit can be served hot or cold.

Recipes: adobo, lumpia, pancit canton, sinigang, and more

Are you looking to explore some of the flavors and cooking techniques of Filipino cuisine? This beginner’s guide will teach you how to make adobo, lumpia, pancit canton, sinigang, and more!

  • Adobo is a classic Filipino dish made from pork or chicken braised in soy sauce and spices.
  • Lumpia is spring rolls made from flour, egg, water, and salt.
  • Pancit Canton is a rice noodle served with a sweet and savory sauce. 
  • Sinigang is a soup made from beef or chicken simmered in a tamarind broth. And finally.
  • Philippine sienna tea is often enjoyed after meals as it helps digestion. 

So whether you’re looking for an easy recipe to start your journey into Filipino cuisine or want to familiarize yourself with some of the basics, these recipes are sure to please!

Filipino cuisine is a diverse and flavorful mix of native and international influences. Whether you’re a beginner looking to explore the many flavors available in this famous Southeast Asian cuisine, or an experienced cook seeking new recipes to add to your repertoire, this guide can help you get started. 

From adobo (a savory chicken and vegetable stew) to lumpia (steamed dumplings filled with pork, shrimp, or vegetables), there’s something for everyone in this roundup of Filipino dishes. Let us know which recipe you choose to try next!


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