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12 Dishes that Showcase the Taste of the Islands

SEASONS & OCCASIONS / Jul 28, 2016

Being a country of 7.107 islands helped develop our cuisine. Aside from granting us a supply of seafood, the geographic division helped local groups develop distinct signature dishes. Any single dish could spawn a new dish once it crosses a border!

Here are 12 recipes that show why foodies would be totally okay with getting stranded in any of our isles.

Dinengdeng (Ilocos region)

This is an Ilocano dish made of local vegetables up north. It’s like the Ilonggo dinengdeng, except that this one is seasoned with bagoong. See the recipe!

Vigan Empanada (Ilocos region)

A favorite street food in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Think of it as an enclosed version of the crispy taco. The original recipe calls for a rice flour shell, but this version uses lumpia wrappers for ease. See the recipe HERE!

Sinuam na mais (Pampanga)

Sinuam na mais is a type of corn soup that originated from the province of Pampanga in the Philippines3. It uses dahoon ng sili which gives it that unique peppery taste. See the recipe!

Sisig (Pampanga)

A staple of the pulutan table, Sisig is a tasty dish made of pork ears and jowl. It is said to have been invented by locals who made use out of scrap pork heads from the kitchens of the nearby US Air Force base4. See the recipe!

Bulalo (Batangas)

This recipe originated from Batangas, and is their version of the Nilagang Baka2. The signature broth owes its taste to the generous amount of bone marrow in the beef shank. See the recipe HERE!

Laing (Bicol)

The Bicolano Laing is a dish indigenous to the Bicol province. It's primarily made from dried taro or gabi leaves. And like a lot of Bicolano specialties, it has the signature chili and coconut milk. See the recipe!

Tinowang isda (Visayas)

This fish dish is gently soured using tomato and lemongrass for that light fish taste and flavorful broth.

“Tinowa” is actually a version of the Tagalog “tinola”, with the addition of some lovely Cebuano flair1. See the recipe!

Utan Bisaya (Visayas)

This veggie dish earns its distinction from its fried fish topping. With its delicious and simple taste, this traditional Visayan soup is a tried and tested way to make kids eat vegetables. See the recipe HERE!

Laswa (Iloilo)

This Ilonggo specialty is a classic variation of the “sinabawang gulay” that’s common throughout the archipelago. See the recipe!

Kansi (Iloilo)

Kansi is Iloilo’s version of Bulalo but with a delightful hint of sourness that’s great during rainy days. It’s sort of like a cross between Bulalo and Sinigang. See the recipe!

Chicken Inasal (Bacolod)

This dish is a local version of chicken barbecue and is wildly popular throughout the region. Though the recipe tends to vary from one kitchen to another, the distinct taste lies in the base marinade of select spices. See the recipe!

Law-uy (Davao)

Just like Utan Bisaya, Law-Uy is a regional version of the sinabawang gulay. It’s a lemongrass-based soup with leafy vegetables and fried fish perfect for any day. It is common in Mindanao. See the recipe HERE!

Wanna learn more recipes? Discover more flavors in our Recipes page!


1. Tinowang Isda. Overseas Pinoy Cooking. [Online] 2007.

2. Tiglao, Getsy. The peasant history of Boiled Beef Soup (Nilagang Baka). The Manila Times. [Online] 2014.

3. Suam na Mais. [Online] 2015.

4. Sisig. Wikipedia. [Online] 2016. [Cited: July 14, 2016.]


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