May 14, 20232023年 05月 14日
Did you know Filipino cuisine is a melting pot of cultures and influences, shaped by centuries of trade, migration, and colonization? From the indigenous flavors of the pre-colonial era to the Spanish, Chinese, and American influences of the colonial period, food is a rich tapestry of flavors, textures, and ingredients in the Philippines.
With a bounty of tropical fruits, vegetables, and spices, Filipino cuisine has always strongly emphasized freshness and bold, vibrant flavors. But it wasn’t until the colonial era that meat, seafood and dairy products became more widely incorporated into the diet. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in plant-based eating, driven by concerns about health, the environment, and animal welfare.
Today, a new wave of chefs and foodies are reclaiming the plant-based roots of Filipino cuisine, crafting innovative and delicious dishes that honor past traditions while embracing the future. Here are some of our top picks for plant-based food in the Philippines and some useful tips for foodies visiting this Southeastern gem, known for the hospitality of its people and the breathtaking landscapes.
Pinakbet is a popular vegetable dish in Filipino cuisine that is typically made with a variety of vegetables such as ampalaya (bitter melon), eggplant, okra, squash, and string beans. The vegetables are usually sautéed with garlic, onions, and tomatoes, and then simmered in a sauce made with bagoong (fermented fish or shrimp paste), water, and sometimes pork. However, the dish can also be made without meat or with a vegetarian substitute for bagoong to make it fully plant-based. Pinakbet is a flavorful and nutritious dish often served as a main course and commonly paired with steamed rice. It is a popular comfort food in the Philippines and is widely enjoyed throughout the country.
Lumpiang Sariwa is a Filipino dish that is also known as Fresh Spring Rolls or Fresh Lumpia. It is a type of vegetable-filled spring roll that is typically served fresh, rather than fried. The dish consists of a soft and thin crepe-like wrapper filled with various fresh vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, and jicama. It is served with a brown sauce made of brown sugar, water, garlic, soy sauce, and cornstarch, with a sprinkle of crushed peanuts on top. Lumpiang Sariwa is a popular dish in the Philippines and is often served as an appetizer or as a main course, and is a common dish during special occasions and celebrations. It is a healthy and refreshing dish that is perfect for those looking for a light and nutritious meal.
Monggo, also known as mung bean, is a legume commonly used in Filipino cuisine. The mung bean is a rich source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients.
In Filipino cuisine, monggo is often used to make a hearty and nutritious soup called monggo guisado or ginisang monggo. The soup typically includes sautéed garlic, onions, tomatoes, and sliced vegetables such as ampalaya (bitter melon), malunggay (moringa leaves), and spinach. Monggo is a versatile ingredient that is also used in other Filipino dishes such as lumpia filling, and desserts like mung bean soup or ginataang mongo, which is a sweet mung bean dessert cooked in coconut milk and sugar.
Laing is a popular Filipino dish that originated in the Bicol region of the Philippines. It is a spicy and flavorful dish made with taro leaves, coconut milk, and chili peppers.
To make laing, taro leaves are first blanched to remove oxalic acid, which can cause a stinging sensation when eaten raw. The blanched leaves are then chopped into small pieces and cooked in coconut milk with garlic, onions, ginger, and chili peppers. The dish is typically simmered until the taro leaves are soft and tender and the coconut milk has thickened into a rich and creamy sauce. It is then served with steamed rice.
Bulanglang is a vegetable soup dish popular in the Philippines, particularly in the Southern Tagalog region. It is a nutritious and healthy dish made with a variety of fresh vegetables and flavored with tamarind or other souring agents.
The dish typically includes a combination of vegetables such as squash, okra, eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and string beans, along with leafy greens like malunggay or spinach. Bulanglang is a simple and flavorful dish that highlights fresh vegetables’ natural flavors and textures. It is a great option for those looking for a healthy and plant-based meal (make sure to specify no seafood) packed with nutrients and fiber.
Ensaladang Talong is a popular Filipino salad with grilled or roasted eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and vinegar dressing. It is a simple and healthy dish that is easy to prepare and can be served as a side dish or a light meal.
Filipino cuisine is known for its generous use of shrimp paste and fish sauce. To ensure that the dish you choose is plant-based, it’s always best to ask the server or cook. For many traditional dishes served at street food stalls and local restaurants animal protein is usually added later on, so as a general rule make sure to specify no meat and seafood if you order one of the dishes above.
Although English is widely spoken in the Philippines, learning a few basic Filipino phrases when ordering food can be helpful. For instance, ‘walang karne’ is the equivalent of vegetarian, while food establishments in large cities are generally familiar with the word vegan. You can also ask if a dish contains meat or animal products by saying “May karne ba ito?” which means “Does this have meat in it?” With a little bit of initiative and experimentation, you can savor the flavors of authentic Filipino cuisine while sticking to your plant-based lifestyle.
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