Get to Know These Defining Filipino Classics

Before you put your own twist on things, get to know the basics

Riffing on classics is the cornerstone of creativity. Here’s a reference guide to identifying traditional Filipino dishes to get you started on this trending cuisine.

ADOBO
Vinegar marinated and simmered dish made from pork, chicken or seafood, it’s typically splashed up with soy sauce and various seasonings and served with rice. Executive chef Sophina Uong fills tacos with it at Mestiza Taqueria in San Francisco.

KARE KARE
Oxtail stew cooked with a savory peanut broth and served with fermented fish paste. At Perla in Philadelphia, chef-owner Lou Boquila uses lamb shank instead, serving it with bok choy, eggplant, sweet bagoong and peanut-annatto sauce.

KAKANIN
Generic term for native desserts. Bonifacio in Columbus, Ohio, makes an ice cream sandwich using fried bao buns. They’re filled with housemade ube ice cream and young coconut strings and then drizzled with coconut caramel sauce and sprinkled with Fruity Pebbles cereal.

KINILAW
A Filipino version of ceviche. Chef Sheldon Simeon offers a version with coconut milk and mullet in the Coco Bora Bowl at Pokéworks in New York.

LUMPIA
The Filipino version of crispy egg rolls. Lumpia City, a food stand with locations in San Diego and Milwaukee, offers lumpia filled with carne asada, mac and cheese, pizza and Dutch apple pie.

PANCIT
A broad reference to noodles and more specifically a stir-fried rice noodle dish. Lasa’s version in Los Angeles features noodles tossed in calamansi butter, with sliced scallions and a dusting of egg yolk cured in Filipino fish sauce.

SINIGANG
Sweet and sour stew featuring pork, vegetables and acidic ingredients like tamarind, calamansi lime and guava. Bad Saint in Washington, D.C., serves a version with ribs and crisped vegetables finished with lemon oil.

SISIG
Sizzling bowl traditionally made with chopped pig's jowls and liver seasoned with calamansi lime and chili peppers. Contemporary chefs go for classically spiced proteins such as pork, chicken or tofu. In San Francisco, food truck Señor Sisig serves it as a topping for nachos with guacamole, pickled jalapenos and pico de gallo.