Working abroad is a tough choice many Filipinos have to make. Despite being away from loved ones, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) make this sacrifice to provide a better future for them. That’s why expressing gratitude and affection to OFWs is essential whenever they come for a home vacation. And there’s no better way to make them feel loved and special than to surprise them with foods they miss the most, from home-cooked meals to their favorite snacks.
So, if a family or friend is coming home for vacation, or maybe you’re visiting them abroad, read on as we’ve rounded up the Filipino foods OFWs crave the most!
One of the top Filipino foods OFWs craves the most is Tuyo – a staple food in any household. Tuyo is traditionally eaten for breakfast paired with egg and sinangag (garlic fried rice) or Champorado. Most Filipinos grew up eating Tuyo since it’s easy to cook and tasty. It refers to a dried fish often made of herring.
While other countries consider it stockfish, Tuyo is dubbed a poor man’s food in the Philippines due to its low price. Nonetheless, this connotation no longer applies since Tuyo is enjoyed by people from all walks of life – even turning into gourmet food!
9. Street Food
Most Filipinos like their food to be saucy and flavorful. And if you’re looking for a quick treat for OFWs but don’t have time to prepare, you can never go wrong with Filipino street foods, like Kwek-Kwek, Kikiam, Fish Balls, Squidballs, Isaw, and Betamax! You can enjoy these foods as snacks or pulutan (appetizer) paired with ice-cold beers.
What’s more? These treats are hard to find outside the country, so OFWs will surely enjoy digging in with some street foods whenever they come home. Of course, don’t forget the Special Manong Sauce, available in sweet and spicy flavors.
Apart from street foods, OFWs will love a plate of barbecue. Whether pork, chicken, or seafood, Filipino-style barbecues are hard to resist! Although there’s no shortage of options worldwide, Filipino barbecue is known for its distinct flavor – a sweet, savory, and smoky dish that will make you drool.
The good thing about barbecue is that you can buy it anywhere, from street food vendors, karinderia, and restaurants. Thus, you don’t have to bother grilling. But if you want to make it extra special, you can cook barbecues at home. Just prepare a grill with charcoal and your special barbecue sauce.
7. Pancit Canton & Instant Noodles
Probably one of the best Filipino foods OFWs crave the most is Pancit Canton and Instant Noodles made in the Philippines. These items are the go-to comfort foods of most Filipinos, especially for youngsters. Pancit Canton and Instant Noodles are affordable and easy to prepare, making them a staple food in Filipino households.
Pinoys like to eat these foods for breakfast, snack, or whenever they feel hungry at night. Although these items can be bought in Asian grocery stores abroad, some countries don’t sell them. Thus, you can gift these to OFWs or send them packages filled with Pancit Canton and Instant Noodles.
6. Filipino Chips & Snacks
Another food item OFWs will surely die for is Filipino chips and snacks, like Piattos, Nova, Chippy, Tomi, Boy Bawang, and Cracklings. While these are junk food, OFWs surely miss eating them, especially when they feel homesick. These food items bring back memories from childhood, or they hang out with their friends and families.
Like Pancit Canton, these snacks are available in the international aisle of some supermarkets. But not all of it may be available, and some countries don’t sell it.
5. Tropical Fruits
For OFWs who have been away from the country for years, gifting them a basket of fresh tropical fruits will make them happy. Sure, you can purchase fruits from foreign supermarkets. But fruits from your hometown’s public market taste better and sweeter, plus it’s cheaper too.
In fact, the sweetest mango in the world is sourced from the Philippines! Filipinos also love to drink fresh coconut water, unlike other countries who store it in packs or cans. You can also find plenty of tropical fruits in the Philippines, such as jackfruits, durian, and rambutan.
Now, let’s head on to savory food options. If we’re talking about Philippine cuisine, one of the most popular Filipino dishes you should not miss is Dinuguan. This Filipino food is not a usual dish foreigners would dare to eat since it’s a blood stew. But don’t judge it until you’ve tried it.
It’s made of pork, blood, vinegar, green chili, and other seasoning. Dinuguan has a meaty, savory, and a little salty flavor with a hint of sourness – a tasty dish OFWs would definitely crave! It’s often eaten with white rice or as a snack with puto (steamed rice cake).
No matter what the weather, whether it’s raining or sunny, Filipinos love to enjoy a bowl of Sinigang – the perfect comfort food to fill your hungry tummy. This Filipino soup is undeniably one of the top foods OFWs miss the most known for its sour and savory flavor. It’s a tamarind-based soup often prepared with pork belly, spare ribs, fish, or shrimp.
Aside from that, the dish contains vegetables, such as tomatoes, onion, radish, eggplant, okra (lady’s finger), kangkong (water spinach), and taro. So, there are many reasons why Filipinos love Sinigang. It’s healthy and filling and goes well with white rice!
Like Sinigang, Adobo is a signature Filipino dish that OFWs surely miss the most. As a matter of fact, there’s been a debate about which will be the national dish of Filipinos, whether it’s Sinigang or Adobo. Although there’s no official winner between the two, Adobo is considered by many Filipinos as the national dish of the Philippines – and even foreigners enjoy it!
Filipino Adobo is known for its distinct combination of flavors – a little sweet, tangy, and salty. It’s often cooked with pork or chicken and simmered in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. But you can also use vegetables and other proteins to make Adobo.
The list of Filipino foods OFWs crave the most will not be complete without Lechon – the star at every celebration or gathering! Lechon is made of a whole pig, where its inside is filled with herbs and spices, like lemongrass, onion, garlic, and bay leaves. It’s slowly roasted over hot coals until the skin is crisp while its inside remains juicy.
In the Philippines, you know a party or gathering is happening when you see a Lechon. However, Lechon is served in a few countries, including Spain, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. That’s why preparing some Lechon for OFWs will surely surprise them.