Philippine cuisine consists of the foods, preparation methods and eating customs found in the Philippines. The style of cooking and the foods associated with it have evolved over several centuries from its Austronesian/Malay origins to a mixed cuisine with many Hispanic, Chinese, American, and other Asian influences adapted to indigenous ingredients and the local palate.
Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate paellas and cocidos created for fiestas. Popular dishes include lechón (whole roasted pig), longganisa (Philippine sausage), tapa (cured beef), torta (omelette), adobo (chicken and/or pork braised in garlic, vinegar, oil and soy sauce, or cooked until dry), kaldereta (meat in tomato sauce stew), mechado (larded beef in soy and tomato sauce), pochero (beef in bananas and tomato sauce), afritada (chicken and/or pork simmered in a tomato sauce with vegetables), kare-kare (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), crispy pata (deep-fried pig's leg), hamonado (pork sweetened in pineapple sauce), sinigang (meat or seafood in sour broth), pancit (noodles), and lumpia (fresh or fried spring rolls).
Malayo-Polynesians during the pre-Hispanic era in the Philippines prepared food by boiling, steaming, or roasting. This ranged from the usual livestock such as kalabaw (water buffaloes), baka (cows), manok (chickens) and baboy (pigs) to various kinds of fish and seafood. In a few places, the broad range of their diet extended to monitor lizards, snakes and locusts.
Filipinos have been cultivating rice since 3200 BC when Austronesian ancestors from the southern China Yunnan Plateau and Taiwan settled in what is now the Philippines. They brought with them rice cultivation and a lot of other various traditions that are used in forms today.
Trade with other Asian nations introduced a number of staples into Philippine cuisine, most notably toyo (soy sauce) and patis (fish sauce), as well as the method of stir-frying and making savory soup bases. Vinegar and spices were used in foods to preserve them.
Spanish settlers brought with them produce from the Americas like chili peppers, tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and the method of sautéing with garlic and onions. Although chili peppers are nowhere as widely used in Filipino cooking compared to much of Southeast Asia, chili leaves are frequently used as a cooking green, again distinct from the cooking of neighbors. Spanish (and Mexican) dishes were eventually incorporated into Philippine cuisine with the more complex dishes usually being prepared for special occasions. Some dishes such as arroz a la valenciana remain largely the same in the Philippine context. Some have been adapted or have come to take on a slightly or significantly different meaning. Arroz a la cubana served in the Philippines usually includes ground beef picadillo. Philippine longganisa despite its name is more akin to chorizo than Spanish longaniza. Morcon is likely to refer to a beef roulade dish not the bulbous specialty Spanish sausage.
While there were some Chinese in the Philippines before the Spanish, a significant Chinese population grew only after the Spanish established themselves. Chinese food became a staple of the panciterias or noodle shops that sprang up in the nineteenth century, but were often marketed with Spanish names. The influence of comida china (Chinese food) is seen in dishes like arroz caldo (congee), morisqueta tostada (an obsolete term for sinangag or fried rice), and chopsuey.
Today, Philippine cuisine continues to evolve as new techniques, styles of cooking, and ingredients find their way into the country. Traditional dishes both simple and elaborate, indigenous and foreign-influenced, are seen as are more current popular international viands and fast food fare.
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