Regional Cuisines of Southern Luzon
After featuring the amazing cuisine of Northern Luzon earlier this month, it would be unfair if we don’t similarly highlight the delectable Southern Luzon cuisine, which is one of the most beloved in the Philippines.
Southern Luzon cuisine is heavily influenced by the products available to each respective provinces. For instance, Bicol, Laguna, and Rizal are abundant in coconut produce, so you will notice the use of coconut juice and meat in most of their dishes. On one hand, provinces that are surrounded by bodies of water, which include Batangas and Malabon, dominantly make use of seafood in their daily food preparation.
The Best of Southern Luzon Cuisine
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The Bicol region is consist of six provinces namely Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Sorsogon. Not only will you find here one of the world’s most photogenic volcanoes, the Mayon Volcano, but also some of the most popular dishes in the country.
Bicolanos are known for using coconut milk and siling labuyo (hot chilies) in their cuisines. So here are a few of their dishes that are known throughout the country.
Laing or Pinangat
Pinangat is another special Southern Luzon cuisine from Bicol. It’s actually a rich and creamy dish made with taro leaves boiled in coconut milk, again with lots of chilies. Laing is the Manileños version of pinangat. The cooking process is similar, but pork and/or shrimp are added instead of vegetables alone. If you’re curious, here’s an easy-to-follow laing recipe.
Bicol express is a classic Filipino pork dish cooked in coconut milk with shrimp paste and lots and lots of chilies. This Southern Luzon cuisine is so loved by many that the recipe was adopted by other provinces in the country with various versions. If you visit Albay, make sure that you try this dish. Although Bicol express is widely available in most restaurants in the country, still, nothing beats the original Bicol express recipe.
Kinonot (flaked) is another favorite Bicolano dish cooked in coconut milk. Usually it’s kinonot na pagi (sting ray), sometimes shark. It’s a spicy appetizer and really delicious! We’re not encouraging you to eat an endangered species, we’re just saying you should try it at least once in your life.
Pili is a nut delicacy native to Bicol region. It can be eaten raw, dried, roasted, covered with sugar syrup, or made into tarts or cakes. Whatever your preference is, it’s totally yummy, and we’re guessing it won’t be long now before the other countries take notice of this exquisite Southern Luzon cuisine!
Filipino Rice Cakes and Puddings
Cainta, Rizal, is the official kakanin (native foods, rice cakes) capital of the Philippines. Here you will find different types of rice cakes and puddings. Among the tasty goodies found in the area are cassava cake, bibingka, majabuko, ube jalaya, sapin-sapin, kalamay, and many others. All kakanin are cooked with coconut milk.
If there’s one thing that Antipolo City is known for, it’s the suman, a type of rice cake. Although suman originated from Cainta, Rizal, the product found popularity in Antipolo and is sold by vendors in many areas around the city. Tourists usually buy suman as pasalubong to their loved ones back home.
Just like suman, you can find cashew nuts with a variety of flavors at the streets of Antipolo sold by vendors.
It’s the most famous delicacy in the province. They have the best-tasting buko pie in the country. So if you want to bring something to your loved ones after visiting Laguna, it should be buko pie, a creamy pie with young coconut filling.
But if you want to try your hand into making one, try our buko pie recipe.
Panutsa, also called panocha or panotsa, is a Filipino sweet delicacy made from melted muscovado sugar with peanut pieces. Panutsa is actually known in many provinces in the country, but it is said that it’s an original Southern Luzon cuisine.
Aside from pristine beaches, Batangas province is also recognized for their coffee and other produce.
Before Starbucks, there is kapeng barako, a variety of coffee staple in Lipa. Being situated in a high-altitude area, Batangas’s climate and soil are perfect for coffee cultivation, which was introduced way back during Spanish colonization era. This local coffee is rich and pungent with a bit of fruity flavor. It’s so good that Batangas has been exporting kapeng barako to the United States and Europe since the late 1880s.
Bulalo is a popular dish across the Philippines, but Batangas being the cattle business capital of the country, is the first to come up with the bulalo recipe. Don’t mistake bulalo for nilagang baka. The former is a soup dish with beef shanks and bone marrow as main ingredients while the latter uses bony parts of the beef. Cooking is done for hours over low heat for the beef flavor to come out. If you want a quicker method of cooking, use pressure cooker, it will still yield the same result. You can try our bulalo recipe.
Tawilis is a small fish from the sardine family exclusive to the Philippines particularly in Taal Lake in Batangas. It can be cooked in various ways including grilled or crispy-fried, but one thing is clear—it’s a bestseller in any restaurant in Batangas, although you can now find it on grocery store shelves as bottled or canned tawilis sardines.
Pancit Malabon, as suggested by its name, is a dish originally from the city of Malabon. It’s a delicious noodle dish similar to pancit palabok. The only difference is that pancit Malabon has thicker noodles, the sauce is already mixed together with the main ingredient, and toppings used are seafood like shrimp and squid instead of meat.