Discovering Filipino Comfort Food

big bowl of sinigang

Try any of these Filipino comfort food when you’re feeling under the weather.

When you’re feeling down in the dumps or a little under the weather, there is always that one dish that your mother makes that would always perk you up. There are also those types of meals and delicacies in Philippine food culture. They have their own variety of hangover food and rainy-day food.

If you happen to be in the Philippines and hankering for a pick-me-up, here are some Filipino comfort food you should try in local restaurants or even in someone’s home:

Champorado

This shouldn’t be confused with the Mexican version champurrado. The Philippine version is basically chocolate rice porridge and topped with sweetened condensed milk. But if you want to eat it the same way as the locals, pair it with some tuyo (salted dried fish). The savory flavor of the fish perfectly counters the sweetness of the champorado. It’s the perfect food for the rainy season.

It’s quite easy to make as well. You need a cup of glutinous rice (which you can find in supermarkets), ½ cup sugar, 4 pieces of pure cocoa, and 4 to 5 cups of water. In a medium-sized saucepan, let the water boil and then add the sugar and cocoa. Stir until the cocoa has fully dissolved. Next, add the salt and the rice and let the mixture reboil. Stir the rice every now and then so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Once the mixture reaches your desired consistency, turn off the heat and serve in a bowl. Top it off with some sweetened milk and serve with 2 or 3 pieces of tuyo.

It might not look appetizing, but once you have a taste of this hearty porridge, you’ll be craving for it whenever you’re sick or stuck in rainy weather.

Halo - Halo

But when the day is too hot, you want something to cool you down. One way to beat the stifling heat is to have a heaping glass of halo-halo. It’s hard to describe what this dessert is. It’s not exactly a shake, but can turn into one once the ice has melted, and it’s not exactly an ice cream sundae either. The only way to sum it is an amazing and refreshing treat.

Most of the ingredients are also quintessentially Filipino, such as plantains, red munggo, coconut strips, sweet garbanzos, leche flan, tapioca pearls, sweet potatoes, and topped with shaved ice, ube ice cream then slathered with evaporated milk. Halo-halo is definitely the best Filipino comfort food over the summer. It is also the perfect introduction to Filipino cuisine.

Banana/Camote Cue

There are four kinds of bananas native to the Philippines, namely lacatan, latundan, bungulan, and the saba (otherwise known as Asian plantains). Out of all of them, the saba is ideal for cooking. And when you deep fry them and caramelize with sugar—voila!—you get a banana cue.

The end result is a crunchy exterior but with a sweet and tender center. It’s a pretty common street food. You can find plenty of vendors selling them on corners and it’s a popular snack among students.

But if you prefer a cue with a different texture, try the kamote cue (made from sweet potato). Some vendors skewer them but there are others that slice them like fries. Either way, you might get addicted to any of them.

Taho

If you’re craving for a late night snack, then try this sweet concoction. Taho is a treat consisting of silky tofu, tapioca pearls, and swimming in brown sugar syrup. This custard-type dessert is quite flexible because you can eat whether it’s warm or chilled.

This treat was clearly inspired by the Chinese douhua, but instead of soy sauce, the Filipinos replaced it with brown sugar syrup to satisfy their sweet tooth. The syrup itself isn’t as thick, which complements the silkiness of the tofu and tapioca pearls.

And you can usually buy this sweet concoction late at night. Wherever you are in Cebu, you are bound to find a taho peddler as long as you wait long enough.

Budbud

Known as suman in other parts of the country, this glutinous rice cake is very similar to the sticky rice in Thailand. You can even pair it with fresh mango. But there are locals who prefer to pair with sikwati (dark hot chocolate). This sticky cake is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack.

You can find this treat in malls, diners, and even on the streets. They also come in different sizes. But if you are to eat this with your hands, better prepare some hand wipes because your fingers are bound to get sticky. To avoid that issue, it’s better to eat this with a fork. That way you can easily dip in your hot chocolate drink.

Pork Sinigang

Last, but not the least, pork sinigang. This is probably the heartiest stew on this list and is also one of the most sought after. Whether you eat this on a rainy day or simply need a pick me up, you would surely feel better even after taking a sip of the soup.

Because of how beloved it is, this is one of the few Cebu exotic dishes that can be served on special occasions. It also has a pretty strong sour kick to it, which is one of the flavors common in Filipino dishes. The sourness comes from tamarind, a key ingredient of the dish.

The sourness might startle you a little, but after you get over it, you would also be amazed at how well incorporated it is. Before you know it, you might be addicted to sinigang in no time.

So if you are staying in the Philippines for quite some time, don’t miss the opportunity to try these beloved Filipino comfort food. You can find them in most carenderias and restaurants. You might even get to try them at your Filipino friend’s home. Either way, all these dishes are definitely worth savoring.

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