A “comfort food” is normally defined as food that gives consolation or a feeling of well-being. This type of food is usually as rich in carbs and sugar as they are in flavor, but not all of them have to be so. Here are at least 5 popular Filipino comfort foods you can savor right now
What Filipino doesn’t remember this as being part of their childhood? Whether it was bought from the friendly neighborhood street vendor or lovingly made by your mom at home, this simple treat made many of us delight at the savory sourness of green mango. Every pulpy, fruity bite of green mango dipped in salty-sweet bagoong still brings back memories of hot afternoons spent playing with siblings and friends. Recreate this childhood classic with peeled and sliced green mangoes, and a hefty dollop of Barrio Fiesta bagoong.
Bulalo, or bone marrow steak, is hands-down a flavor winner of comfort food. It’s rich in protein instead of carbs. Best enjoyed during the rainy season, a hot bowl of Bulalo is perfect when the weather becomes cool and moist from the monsoon rains. The warm, sometimes spicy, beefy broth with cabbage and boiled corn is what many Filipinos look forward to slurping, but the enjoyment only begins there. The best part about Bulalo is when you get to suck on the delicious bone marrow, but only after downing the sinewy, tender meat surrounding the bone. This is one Pinoy “soul food” that fills you up and makes you feel good. For a good Bulalo that comes closest to good old home-cooking by your Lola, check out Sosing’s Carinderia.
Champorado, or chocolate rice porridge is the breakfast or Merienda of choice. Many Pinoys remember this as their breakfast before school, or as a mid-afternoon snack. Champorado was and remains one of the delightfully unusual Pinoy comfort foods that combine sweet and savory and was around before salted caramel. Laced with the right amount of evaporated milk and brown sugar, followed by a generous sprinkling of tasty dried Danggit or Tuyo flakes, champurrado remains a champion comfort food that’s enjoyed as a snack or for breakfast.
Pinoys like to contract words and create entirely new ones that somehow make sense. Take, for instance, Tapsilog-tapa, Sinangag, Itlog. This combo of marinated, pan-fried strips of tender beef, garlicky rice, and a sunny-side-up egg is a top Pinoy comfort food. Tapsilog is often enjoyed as a complete breakfast meal, but many Pinoys like to consume this protein-rich combo after a night out of drinking. The tapa or marinated beef strips are the undisputed stars, but it wouldn’t be the same without a fried egg and garlic rice.
Sisig is one of the more curious and exotic Filipino comfort foods. Originally from Pampanga, this is a meaty concoction of minced pig snout, cheeks, face, and liver that’s grilled then sautÃ©ed with onions and a dollop of margarine. The original sisig was intended as a special meal to provide pregnant women with enough calcium and nutrients to birth a healthy child. Sisig now plays different roles. Some Pinoys enjoy it with rice and have it as a meal, and some enjoy it as bar chow. Some enterprising restaurant owners modified the recipe, swapping the pork for minced tuna, tofu, or chicken. Whichever way you have it, sisig must be served on a sizzling plate, topped with a raw egg that is cooked by the sizzling plate. Some sisig lovers go as far as giving it a generous sprinkling of Calamansi juice and Knorr seasoning or hot sauce.
Whether it’s sweet, salty, savory, spicy, or any combination of flavors, there is no single Filipino dish that is the ultimate comfort food. As long as it tastes good and evokes memories of good times and home cooking, it simply must be savored.