Sinful Filipino Food You Need to Try At Least Once in Your Life
Just a friendly warning, when we say it’s a list of some sinful Filipino food, we’re living up to that title. These are incredibly sinful, your doctor might die of a heart attack if you keep this all on a daily diet, but they’re delicious—and delicious food trumps health anytime, right?
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Sinful Filipino Food Too Delicious to Resist
Here are some sinful Filipino food our doctors would want us to take our eyes off—but we just can’t.
Brazo de Mercedes
Cake made entirely of icing—and not in a gross way. The Brazo de Mercedes is a heaven of a meringue roll with a thick custard center that makes angels sing. Yes, it’s the definition of a food orgasm, and it’s also relatively cheap. In the local Goldilock’s bakeshop, it’s only at ₱40 per slice, and ₱240 for a log, so go indulge yourself. It’s a sinful Filipino food, but we promise, it’s your sweet tooth’s dream.
No, Filipinos are not creatures of the fantastical world, but we do eat bone marrow. Henry David Thoreau probably had a taste of the delectable cuisine when he wrote about sucking the marrow out of life.
Bulalo takes its name from the star ingredient: beef shank with marrow. In Pampanga, specifically in the restaurant chain Razon’s, the heartstopper is served on a hot plate, ladled with buttery gravy that is as sinful as food can be.
If you want a healthier option, bulalo can also be served as a stew. Tagaytay is famous for them, plus you get a lovely view of the volcano in a lake that is Mt. Taal. Whether served in a hot plate or in a soup bowl, it doesn’t matter, the real fun comes in scooping the gooey goodness of the marrow—straight out of the bone itself.
Deep-fried chicken skin
Okay, admit it, unless you’ve been looking out for your calories your entire life or have never tasted the thing, chicken skin is the best thing about the bird.
Now imagine a plateful of nothing but chicken skin, deep-fried, crunchy, savory bits of them piled high on a plate. In the Philippines, chicken skin is made available in night markets and small kiosks at the mall. These cheap and tasty snacks, like barbecued innards, aren’t considered a sinful Filipino food for nothing, but they are priced by weight and a 50-gram bag is more than enough to satisfy your cravings.
Chicharon (deep-fried pork skin)
If chicken skin is not your thing, then you might want pork cracklings—known as chicharon—instead. It’s basically pork skin that has been marinated, sun-dried, and deep-fried. Filipinos love skin but not in a House Bolton kind of way that flays men alive, we just love them for snacks. Also, there are a lot of variants, like tuna chicharon, which has less fat, or chicharon bulaklak, which is pork intestine that resembles flowers, or chicha-rabao, the chicharon from Tuguegarao that uses carabao (ox) hide instead of pork.
Chicharon is so popular that it is peddled by everyone from street vendors to large food companies. It is best enjoyed with a spicy vinegar dip and a cold bottle of beer. Cheers.
Isaw (charcoal-grilled chicken and pork intestines)
This sinful Filipino food will probably send you straight to hell, considering that mothers tell their children that this could make them sick. That being said, this signature street food is made of either pork or chicken intestines, charcoal-grilled all its glory. Dip it in spicy vinegar, and your day is complete.
Mang Larry’s version at the University of the Philippines Diliman Campus is a kind of watering hole for street-food-loving people, serving with it fried squid balls, chicken liver, and grilled blood cubes. Again, Filipinos are not vampires, but only because vampires are so mainstream.
Taba ng talangka (crab fat)
The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands, of course, seafood will make it on to the list at some point. The taba ng talangka is made by shelling hundreds of crablets and bottling their fat. In the province of Pampanga, the fat content is as high as 66 percent, so locals usually mix it into a steaming plate of hot rice with calamansi squeezed over the top. Others use it as a base for pasta sauce.
For non-Pampangenos, this is a rare treat, so it is likely that you’ll catch them licking their spoon with it.
Pro tip: in shopping for the taba, expect to pay no less than ₱300 per bottle, otherwise it may be diluted. Look for the orange color. If too pale or too red, something’s not quite right with it, i.e., diluted or colored with food coloring.
Lechon kawali (crispy pan-fried roasted pork belly)
Whole roast pigs are for parties in Filipino households, but the next best thing, especially if there are few people in your family, is to take a hunk of pork belly and deep-fry it for a scrumptious meal. Lechon kawali literally means it is prepared in a pan, thus the word kawali. It is sliced into manageable chunks for a less messy plate. The best way to eat kawali is to pair it with a liver-gravy spread or a vinegar-soy sauce-onion dip, making it extremely unhealthy but incredibly satisfying.
We Filipinos leave nothing in the trash, so we make a meal out of a sow’s ear, and believe us, it’s delicious. The unwanted bits, cheeks, ears, and scraps of flesh, are all fair game and served with diced onions and peppers. Well, the sisig is as exciting as the ingredients are—chewy, crunchy, and even more satisfying with a round of beers.
Bonus: crack an egg on the sizzling hot plate for added flavor.
Why not try our pork sisig recipe.
We could give Germans a run for their money with our own version of the schweinshaxe. Their traditional pork knuckle dish rubbed down with salt and spices taste even better with the Filipino version, which is cooked twice for better locking of flavor.
The pata is simmered in water to seal the flavor, then fried to perfection for that crisp taste. The result is an indulgent dish with meat literally falling off the bone. Complete the feast with white rice and pickled papaya and your evening is complete.
In case you want to try, here’s our crispy pata recipe.
Lechon (whole roasted pig)
This sinful Filipino food has quite the story to complete its description with. When Chef Anthony Bourdain visited the Philippines, he said that the lechon is the “best pig ever.” His praise put the meal on the map, topping Time magazine’s 2009 Best of Asia list.
Well, no surprise there, Filipinos love stuffing themselves with these bits of fatty heaven. Bonus points if you’re seen with the fat dripping down your chin.
Lechon is to Filipino parties as turkeys are to Thanksgiving dinners, and believe us, you’d love the pork better than the bird. There are different ways of preparing the dish. Some stuff the pig with spices, while others serve it on the side. Oh, and the best ones are made in Cebu. So flock on to the Queen City of the South. Enjoy it by the beach or stuff yourself with it away from everyone else, it is all up to you.