The Christmas season is finally upon us! As we enter the ber in the Philippines, festivities for the holidays have started. We have to get ready for large family gatherings, Christmas parties, and most importantly, the noche buena feast. We all know how big Filipino families can get and how they love those special Filipino recipes served every holiday.
So make sure to have that big platter of white rice and racks of beer for the uncles because here is a list of the best Filipino recipes for Christmas.
This sweet and savory dish is that originated in Northern Luzon, became popular all over the Philippines and is now a staple dish to serve in noche buenas. Kaldereta means stew in Spanish and it’s traditionally made of stewed goat meat in tomato sauce with other healthy ingredients such as bell pepper, potatoes, carrots, and liver spread. Other versions also gained popularity that uses other meats like beef and pork instead of goat.
But no matter what meat you’re using for your kaldereta, it’s always a guarantee that it’ll come out tender and juicy that perfectly complements the sweetness of the tomato sauce and fresh vegetables.
By now, noche buena table spreads for the family would never be caught without a plate of sizzling sisig. It’s a dish that can be enjoyed by everyone and perfect for the cold and wet Christmas weather that’s common in the Philippines. It’s made of minced pork cheeks and sometimes pork brain mixed in with a couple more ingredients such as pepper, garlic, and vinegar. It has a sour flavor that Filipino love and is usually topped with raw eggs after it’s done cooking on the stove then mixed in with calamansi. It’s a popular dish to share when you’re having a beer with your family after the noche buena.
See also: Crispy Pork Sisig
We borrowed lumpiang shanghai from the Chinese and over the years completely made the recipe our own. It’s a great finger food during Christmas eve especially when you’re buzzing around the room mingling with relatives you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s usually made with minced or ground meat with a variety of minced vegetables. The ingredients are all mixed together and rolled into a lumpia wrapper that’s deep-fried to crispy perfection.
4. Leche Flan
Leche flan is probably one of the most popular dessert dish served not only on Christmas but on different special occasions as well like birthdays and fiestas. It’s originally a Spanish made dessert with various versions found in Latin America and is known as creme caramel in European countries. The Filipino flan, however, is a lot sweeter than the Spanish version and a lot heavier. It’s prepared through steaming or baking the flavor of the flan is perfectly formulated to appeal to the typically sweet-toothed Filipinos.
See also: Bulacan Style Leche Flan Recipe
5. Crispy Pata
The Philippines is infamous for its various sinful pork recipes like the almighty lechon. Crispy Pata is an alternative version of the lechon that’s popularly served during Christmas to relatives. The pig’s leg is deep-fried instead of the entire pig roasted over a bed hot coal. It’s equally as delectable and delicious perfect with a homemade dipping sauce. Filipinos love to share an entire platter of crispy pata amongst family while enjoying a beer on Chrismas night.
For some unknown reason, this traditional Italian pasta with its creamy white sauce, eggs, bacon, and black pepper just screams Christmas meal to Filipinos. Carbonara has become a staple in the Filipino noche buena despite being a traditional Italian dish. Filipinos love the taste of carbonara and its creamy texture. It’s served on special occasions and over the years, carbonara has carved its spot on the table during noche buenas in the Philippines.
See also: Creamy Tuna Carbonara
7. Buko Salad
Being one of the top producers of coconut in the world, it would be a sin if Filipinos have no coconut-based dish served during the family-oriented noche beuna. Buko salad is a delicious cold dessert that’s usually made out of a variety of fruits that’s mixed in with shredded young coconut milk, cream, and milk. Filipinos love this sweet dessert that also serves as a refreshing palate cleanser after the heavier Christmas Eve feast.
Out of all the foods in this list, bibingka probably takes the title of the ultimate dish for Christmas. This is because traditionally bibingka is only served throughout the Christmas season and is a popular kakanin that embodies the Filipino’s taste and love of the Christmas season. Bibingka is practically synonymous with Christmas in many Filipino’s minds. Filipinos love to eat it after finishing their midnight mass. Bibingka is traditionally made of glutinous rice and coconut milk that’s baked in the oven and other variations are available throughout the country.
See also: Top 12 Best Filipino Kakanin Recipes
Who doesn’t love the classic fried chicken? Filipinos served fried chicken to their families all the time so what’s to stop them for serving a platter-full of it on noche buena to their extended family? It’s truly a classic dish that all Filipinos love and would be weird if it’s missing from the table during a family gathering, especially during the Christmas season.
10. Christmas Ham
Something that Filipinos has borrowed from the Western countries is serving a huge Christmas ham on the during the noche buena. Most Filipinos typically buy their ham on the grocery store of buy expertly cooked ham from someone they know but above is a Christmas ham recipe that you can do in your kitchen. Filipinos just love to have a big piece of meat on their table, slice it up, and share it with every member of their family.
Patatim is another great alternative to the famous and Pinoy favorite lechon. This time-consuming dish is popular to serve on special occasions because of how much effort it takes to cook that single large piece of pig leg and the delicious sauce that’s created with it. The piece of pork is slowly boiled overnight and sometimes even the entire day to get it to become perfectly tender to cook with its sauce. The thick sauce is just like lechon paksiw’s sauce but without the vinegar. The tender pork with the thick and sweet sauce is a big hit to relatives visiting for Christmas.
12. Pansit Palabok
Pansit palabok with its vibrant colors and variety of different toppings is just the perfect dish to serve for Christmas because it perfectly reflects the Filipino Christmas spirit. Annatto powder is used to give the dish its vibrant orange color. Filipinos borrowed this noodle dish and made it into their own. The thin white noodles with the annatto powder are topped with a variety of different ingredients like shrimps, slices of hardboiled eggs, spring onions, and even tinapa flakes. This gives the dish different textures that become a party in your mouth with every bite.
13. Mango Float
Despite the wet and cold weather (for the Philippines, at least) during the Christmas Eve, Filipinos still love to have their sweet and cold dessert. Buko salad, mentioned above, is one of these Christmas desserts and the sweet and delectable mango float is another one of them. It’s a frozen dessert with layers of mango, a combination of all-purposed-cream and condensed milk, and graham crackers. Mango float is relatively easy to prepare, just layer the ingredients to sufficiently fill in your container and put it overnight in the freezer. The contrast between the colors of the three ingredients makes the dessert delicious to look at and even more to eat.
See also: Different Recipes for Graham Crackers
Every Filipino household has its own version of Spaghetti recipe and Filipinos typically like their spaghetti to be sweet, unlike the usual foreigner who likes their spaghetti with a sour flavor. No Filipino noche buena will ever be complete without a platter of spaghetti with its thick, sweet tomato sauce and topped with slices of hotdog and grated cheese. That’s the favorite version of spaghetti that Filipinos love and Filipino children grew up with. Spaghetti is served during every special occasion and can never be absent during Christmas eve.
15. Pork Barbeque
And last but not least is the Pinoy style pork barbeque. Christmas would also be incomplete without a platter of pork barbeque served on a stick. It’s basically the first dish to disappear when the Christmas celebration begins and it’s also a popular pulutan for the dads and uncles enjoying their beer and the cold Christmas weather. Like most Filipino recipes, our pork barbeque is sweeter compared to the recipe from the rest of the world. But it’s much more delectable and delicious in my opinion. The smell alone can entice people from outside the house and join in with the Christmas celebration.
See also: 18 Best Filipino Pork Recipes