Though Filipino cuisine is known for its diverse richness in flavors and resourceful use of ingredients, it’s now really known for its love for spices as much as its neighboring countries in Asia. Philippine cuisine and flavors change from region to region and the spicier friendly cuisines come from the Philippines ’ Bicol region and regions with a majority Muslim population, home to more of the well-known spicy Filipino recipes.
Spicy Filipino recipes aren’t a staple in the overall Filipino cuisine, rather it’s more of a regional preference and even individual taste. Spicy flavors in the form of crushed siling labuyo or chili pepper are more commonly found in condiments that add the preferential hotness to the main dish rather than the recipe itself. But there are certain Filipino dishes that are elevated with a touch of spiciness and Filipino recipes that isn’t complete without the hot flavor.
Here are the best spicy Filipino recipes:
When Filipinos think of Bicol express, they immediately know that it’s going to be spicy. This Bicolano staple is a dish that uses chopped meat and generous amounts of diced chili pepper combined with shrimp paste and coconut cream and its milk. The dish got its name from its place of origin in the carinderias beside railroad stations meant to feed weary travelers. It’s a must-try for people visiting Bicol to experience the taste of the authentic Bicol Express.
2. Spicy Sisig
Everyone at this point already knows what this Kapampangan dish is and its fascinating but tragic origin story. Sisig has been so popular throughout the country as a dish and a pulutan of choice that different versions of it have been developed. The spicy sisig is one of the most popular versions for people who like a bit more punch in their staple sisig recipe. The spicy sisig recipe doesn’t deviate that much from the original recipe, just with the added hotness.
This is a somewhat modern creation in the Philippines that took the country’s palate by storm. Spicy Fried Chicken has been borne into creation for some time now around the world, of course. But the spicy fried chicken as we know today wasn’t all that popular in the country until a certain popular fast-food chain called Jollibee introduced a spicy version of their beloved Chickenjoy that spicy fried chicken has become a popular alternative to the already delicious staple fried chicken.
Another Bicolano recipe, pinangat is technically a ginataan recipe made with gabi or taro leaves, shrimp paste, dried fish, pork, and crushed chili peppers all stewed in coconut cream or coconut milk. Bite into it and the contract of its rich texture and spicy flavor serves an interesting experience. The sweetness of the coconut milk or cream gives depth and flavor to the softened gabi leaves and creates a nice balance with the spiciness of the chili peppers.
A cousin of the aforementioned pinangat, laing is the less intense version of the entry above and is popularized as a healthy (mostly) vegetarian dish throughout the country. Like pinangat, laing is technically a ginataan dish that uses gabi or taro leaves and other ingredients stewed in coconut milk or cream. It’s original recipe also uses crushed chili pepper but most Filipinos opt to omit this ingredient if they can’t handle the spice. It’s a great vegetarian dish that most Filipinos eat weekly.
A spicy seafood recipe that greatly utilizes the available ingredients that came from the ocean. Kinilaw recipes can use any type of seafood be it fish, squid, or shrimp and all of its heat came from the copious amounts of crushed chili peppers added to the dish. Kinilaw is similar to the Spanish dish ceviche and the dish isn’t cooked but is put into a mixture of vinegar and calamansi juice along with its secondary ingredients.
See also: Kinilaw na Tanigue Recipe
Dinuguan is the sinful but beloved bloody pork stew of Pinoys using authentic Filipino ingredients like vinegar, porks loins, and pork’s blood, of course. It’s always considered a great meal when dinuguan is served on the table. Filipinos fell in love with the tender and velvety texture of the pork with the bloody sauce. A slight alteration of incorporating chopped chili peppers to the recipe gives this traditional Filipino recipe that extra kick and flavor.
See also: Dinuguang Albay Recipe
Kinunot is another spicy Bicol recipe famous for its hotness much like Bicol express and the original recipe for laing. What makes kinunot different is its use of exotic ingredients such as shark and stingray but with the ban of fishing these exotic species, crabs and certain fish species are great alternatives. Kinunot means flakes in Bicolano which describes the dish perfectly. The meat flakes are stewed in a spicy coconut cream along with malunggay leaves.
See also: Top 10 Bicolano Foods That You Must Try
The last Bicol recipe on this list, Kinalas is a local favorite in Bicol and is the region’s spicier version of the more popular lugaw. Kinalas is a spicy noodle soup that Bicolanos love to dine on during cold weather for warmth and hot flavor. The delicious noodle soup doesn’t incorporate chili peppers though but its distinct flavor came from the special kinalas sauce people can buy from kinalas cooks. Other ingredients include, bulalo stock, beef, and yellow pancit noodles.
Commonly mentioned as the Ilocano version of sisig, Insarabasab is an authentic Ilocano dish that uses grilled pork and simply mixed in its other ingredients like chopped ginger, onion, and authentic Ilocano vinegar, the normal vinegar will do just fine if you don’t have any from Ilocos. Ground or finely chopped chili pepper is also added into the mix to add in that delicious spicy flavor to the dish. Afterward, just sprinkle in some calamansi juice.
Filipinos absolutely love their pork and especially love authentic Filipino flavors of the sourest of the sour and the sweetest of the sweet. So it’ll be no surprise that these flavors are incorporated into meat dishes that mixed both sweet and sour flavors. Pork dishes are one of the most popular sweet and sour dishes and lately, spicy flavors are added into the mix to add an even more dynamic layer of flavors.
Beef mechado is one of the all-time favorite recipes of every Filipino. Not only is it a recipe that’s served for everyday meals, but its also a staple dish during special occasions such as fiestas and Christmas feasts. The recipe is a healthy mix of chopped vegetables, tomato sauce, beef slices, and with the added diced chili peppers for that extra spice. The result is spicy beef mechado complete with its classic flavor and added hotness.
Another staple Filipino recipe that both goes amazing for everyday meals and special occasions. Beef caldera is this beef stew recipe with this rich tomato sauce giving deliciously dynamic flavors to the tender beef. The original recipe uses goat meat instead of beef but any meat can be used based on its availability. The stew is characterized by its bright orange color which will instantly pop out even more with the added spiciness brought by chopped chili peppers.
See also: 15 Best Carinderia Recipes
This is an authentic Filipino recipe hailed from the central island of the Philippines, the Visayas region. Halang halang is basically a delicious chicken stew known for the creaminess of its delicious sauce, the tenderness of the chicken, and the hotness from the chili peppers. Halang halang literally means “spicy spicy” with its hotness being the main characterization of the dish, similar to the sinigang being characterized as sour but this dish is more similarly prepared to tinola.
Bagoong is this fragrant and flavorful fermented shrimp paste that’s more commonly used as a condiment or side dish to add that extra pop of flavor to the dish. It’s a Filipino food to die for, commonly used in kare-kare recipes and other savory meat dishes for its spicy and powerful flavor. However, bagoong can also be incorporated into recipes as the main dish. Binagoongang baboy is basically pork stewed in bagoong, creating a flavorful spicy pork dish that seeps into the Filipino palette.
See also: 14 Popular Pulutan of Pinoys
16. Spicy Squid
Squid is one of the most popular seafood ingredients in the Philippines and most commonly used in calamares recipes. Filipinos love their seafood recipes but it’s not often that ingredients from the sea are combined with spicy chili peppers but this recipe created a great balance with the saltiness of the squid and the hotness of the chili peppers. It’s a simple recipe that seafood lovers can get their fill with that added kick of heat.
See also: Best Filipino Seafood Recipes