Regional Cuisine of Mindanao
While Filipino food in Luzon is heavily influenced by Spanish cuisine, Mindanao cuisine is closer to that of Malay neighbors (Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Thailand) in terms of taste because of the use of different exotic spices. They also often incorporate local produce into most of their dishes.
Mindanao, as the second-largest island in the country, is rich in natural resources. Main commodities include rice, corn, banana, pineapple, etc. As a predominantly Muslim region, pork dishes are rare. Good thing Mindanao, as the top contributor of the country’s fishing production, is abundant in seafood, which makes a great alternative to pork.
The Best of Mindanao Cuisine
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Satti is a popular breakfast food in Mindanao particularly in Zamboanga. It’s actually three small bits of meat (beef and chicken liver) grilled in a stick similar to a barbecue, only it is served along with rice balls swimming in a sweet spicy sauce.
This chicken recipe involves sauteing chicken with onion, garlic, and ginger, then stewing in coconut cream. To make the dish more flavorful, native chicken is used.
A dish acquired by Maranaos in Southern Philippines from their neighboring country Indonesia. The Filipino version of the dish is a bit different in terms of preparation methods to suit their tastes and some ingredients are substituted with local components. Maranao’s rendang is prepared by crushing the spices before frying and cooking it with the beef and coconut milk. The dish can also be described as a caramelized curry.
Biryani dish is said to be a food made by the Muslim community in Indian/Persian region. So it’s no surprise that this delicious recipe has made its way to the Muslim community as part Mindanao cuisine. Biryani is basically a fried rice dish with bits of chicken or seafood and other spices.
Pastil is a popular Mindanao food found in the street of Maguindanao. It’s basically a rice covered in banana leaf with chicken or beef adobo strips as fillings, which proves that Mindanao cuisine is more on easy-to-follow recipes. Zamboanga has also their own version of the dish. Their pastil is like an empanada, but instead of pork and vegetables, pancit noodles (rice noodles) are used as fillings.
Pyanggang is a Tausug dish similar to a chicken barbecue only it’s black but not because it’s burnt. One of the ingredients, coconut meat, is burnt before it is grounded. It is then combined with other spices to make a paste or marinade sauce for the chicken.
Sambal is a condiment of Indonesian origin. It’s a spicy hot sauce made from grinding spices including chili pepper, garlic, shallot, and tomato with mortar and pestle.
Tayula itum is a beef dish marinated and cooked with burnt coconut’s milk. Don’t be fooled by its unattractive color, it actually tastes opposite its appearance.
Curacha is famous in Mindanao, especially in Zamboanga. It’s a spanner crab or red frog crab, a crustacean hybrid native to the waters of Zamboanga and Sulu. It can be cooked with sauce or steamed.