Ever-Present Dishes in a Classic Noche Buena Feast
Christmas is always a fun time, even more so for Filipinos who start jamming to yuletide carols and hanging bright and colorful decors as early as September. Kids and adults alike would agree that Christmas is the most-awaited time of the year—sometimes even more than our own birthdays.
And if you grew up in a Filipino household, you’d agree that when the calendar says December 24, there’s only one thing that you’ll be looking forward to the whole day: noche buena feast.
The Spanish term for Christmas eve, noche buena is celebrated by Filipinos over a lavish feast shared by the whole family after the midnight mass. A proof of the long-existing Spanish influence on Filipino culture, preparing a noche buena feast has become a tradition Pinoys have been observing for over a century.
Curious about what Filipinos prepare for noche buena? Here are some of the most common dishes present in a typical Filipino noche buena feast.
Food Favorites You’ll Find in a Classic Noche Buena Feast
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Filipinos are known to be a fan of all things meaty and juicy. While ham is a staple in the noche buena table, lechon is a clear favorite. Large families often purchase a whole pig, with the leftovers turned into other versions of lechon such as chips, adobo, and the widely popular paksiw.
Another popular noche buena dish is chicken galantina. Preparing this dish can be time-consuming, as the deboning part is particularly tedious. The results, however, are all worth it. The chicken is then stuffed with ground pork, sausages, and eggs and then baked in the oven. Due to the amount of time and effort required to make this dish, it is only prepared on special occasions such as Christmas.
Paella is an iconic Spanish dish that is a favorite of Filipinos because of one key ingredient: rice! Yes, Filipinos love to pair rice with almost everything, so it should come as no surprise that paella has become a classic noche buena dish. But this isn’t your average rice dish, paella requires meticulous preparation, and like chicken galantina, it is only served during important occasions.
To wash all the fats and oil down, a perfect way to close a noche buena feast is by downing some fruit salad. Fruit salads served during noche buena typically consist of store-bought fruit cocktail mixed with cream and condensed milk.
Finally, it won’t be a noche buena feast without fruitcake. Love it or hate it, this alcohol-infused dessert is here to stay. Families often pass down fruitcake recipe from generation to generation, while others opt to serve a store-bought one to save time.