Traditional Filipino cooking methods are relatively simple to execute in the kitchen once you’ve become familiar with cooking just a few Filipino recipes. Filipino cuisine is known for its vibrant, delicious, and flavorful dishes that are prepared usually only using simple everyday ingredients.
Keep in mind that each region of the Philippines has different and distinct dishes that come with their own cooking techniques but generally, traditional Filipino cooking methods are easy to learn and uncomplicated. Most of these methods such as marinading (adobo), roasting, sauteed, grilling, frying, etc. are also cooking methods that are used in most parts of the world.
This doesn’t come as a surprise because Filipino cuisine, and therefore it’s cooking techniques, are influenced and inspired by different cultures that passed through and settled in the Philippines. Filipino dishes and the way they’re prepared are borrowed from Malay, Chinese, Spanish, with hints of other European and American cuisines which the Filipinos combined and made uniquely their own.
The main flavors of Filipino cuisine are sour, sweet, and salty. This is due to the fact of the country’s tropical climate so the dishes often used preservative ingredients that give distinct flavors. The best example of this is the heavy use of vinegar in many Filipino dishes.
So without further ado, here is a list of traditional Filipino ways of cooking.
It’s virtually a mistake if we didn’t start off our list with adobo, the unofficial national dish of the Philippines but also a popular cooking method that can be used with several other Filipino dishes. That’s right, adobo isn’t just limited to the delicious, tangy, and saucy Filipino adobo recipe. To ‘adobo’ a dish as a method of cooking means to marinade the main ingredient, usually a type of protein, in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and bay leaves.
Ginataan means to cook with coconut milk or cream. It’s the most popular cooking method in the Philippines (probably on par with adobo) because it utilizes the most common ingredient in the entire country: coconut.
Basically, any ingredient can be cooked in the ginataan way including seafood, vegetables, and meat. The ingredients are usually cut in bite-sized portions and are basically sauteed or reduced in coconut milk or cream until they are deemed ready. If done correctly, the ginataang way of cooking will produce a deliciously creamy dish that melts in your mouth.
Inihaw or grilling is not only a popular cooking method in the Philippines but it’s also popular in different parts of the world as well. So this cooking method is probably already familiar to those who haven’t head the term inihaw before. Filipinos love to slow grill their meats for hours over a fire or a burning bed of coal. A great example of a dish that uses this cooking method is the famous lechon baboy as well as the Filipino-style barbecue.
Sinigang is the ultimate comfort food for every Filipino. Sinigang is not just a single dish but it’s actually a popular way of cooking that produces a sour soup using proteins and loads of vegetables. The sourer the soup is the better. The protein is boiled with a mixture of different vegetables, usually beans, eggplants, okra, etc. and added with fresh ingredients that produce the sour broth including tomatoes, calamansi, bayabas, and sampalok among others.
Similar to adobo, pinaksiw is a Filipino cooking method that heavily uses vinegar as an ingredient that’s used as a form of preservative to make the dish remain unspoiled for longer. Its main difference from adobo is that pinaksiw dish doesn’t use any soy sauce or bay leaves but instead incorporates other sauteed ingredients such as garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Along with the vinegar, this mixture of ingredients is added with the main ingredient and cooked, usually in a yok full of oil.
Nilaga is a popular cooking method that produces warming soups that’s especially popular to cook during the wet season in the Philippines. Nilaga means boiled and it’s exactly as it sounds. Ingredients, usually beef complete with bones down to the bone marrow are boiled with green vegetables such as cabbage.
The pinerito cooking method is another popular method that’s also used not just in the Philippines but also in the rest of the world. Pinerito means to fry any ingredient that’s fried is under the cooking method of pinerito. Filipinos love to cook their ingredients by frying them in a yok or the more modern pan if they’re in a hurry to create a dish, especially in the morning. Fried eggs are basically specialty dishes in every Filipino household.
Ginisa or gisa means to sautee which to a lot of Filipino dishes is the first step that needs to be done in the recipe. Chopped onions, crushed garlic, and sometimes slices of tomatoes or ginger are first sauteed in a yok or pan full of oil and once the delicious aroma of the ingredients hits your nose, that means that the next ingredients are ready to be added. Practically any everyday ingredients and even rice are “gisa-ed’ by Filipinos.
Kinilaw dishes are similarly prepared the same way as ceviches from Spain. Raw ingredients of usually fish with slices of vegetables including ginger, onions, garlic, and sometimes chili for a little kick of spice are mixed with a generous pouring of vinegar and topped off with calamansi juice. The ingredients don’t require any heat with this method of “cooking” as it is believed that the acid of the vinegar is enough to cook the ingredients and kill off any bacteria.
Sinangag is another one of the most popular methods throughout the Philippines. Cooking sinangag is basically pan-frying leftover rice from the day before with a generous amount of crushed or minced garlic and maybe add in some soy sauce or tomatoes. This method of cooking is especially popular to do in the morning because of the availability of the ingredients and how quick the sinangag is prepared. It’s also a way to utilize leftover food.
Binalot literally translates to wrap. It’s a common method of cooking in the Philippines where the main ingredient is wrapped in (usually) a banana leaf, pandan leaf, or aluminum foil and is cooked or grilled. This method of cooking is commonly done with fish as the wrap locks in the heat and moisture. The wrapped ingredient can also go in the oven. This method is similar to baking and Filipinos also use this technique to cook their rice delicacies or kakanin.
Binagoongan or simply bagoong is a Filipino method of cooking where ingredients are cooked with fermented fish or shrimp paste or more commonly known as bagoong. The fish or shrimp paste gives the ingredients and the finished product a somewhat sour and saltier flavor that many Filipinos love. The bagoong is usually added at the last step of the recipe and gives the main ingredient, usually meat, a more tender and creamy texture.
Tinapa or tapa is a Filipino cooking method that’s another way to preserve the ingredients. Fish or meat are treated and sun-dried, stored, and then cooked for later. Tinapa is also among the favorite foods of Filipinos because of their distinct salty flavor. Tinapa are also quite versatile because they can be used as the main ingredient eaten with white rice, a side dish, and can be eaten as an afternoon snack. Filipinos also love it for its affordability.