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Travel to Eat: Must-Try Filipino Food

Do you know any must-try Filipino food? Food is one of the best ways to get to know a country. It’s easy to travel and learn about a place when you can taste its cuisine. And it also gives you a chance to explore different cultures!

If you’re planning on traveling anywhere in the Philippines, here are some of the recommended local dishes for your trip. These are delicacies popular all over the country and have unique flavors due to their traditional preparation methods or ingredients. Kaon ‘ta!

BATANES: Ivatan Uved

Uved is one of the dishes you shouldn’t miss when visiting Batanes. It’s the Ivatans’ version of meatballs. It’s basically made of the finely-grated banana corm, found at the base of a banana plant’s trunk. It’s mixed with ground meat (beef or pork) and minced fish. Afterward, it is seasoned with onion, garlic, salt, and pepper. This will be rolled into balls or served as-is and can either be with or without its broth. A truly versatile must-try Filipino food!

ILOCOS: Ilokano Ilocos Empanada 

Ilocos is the Filipino home to the Latin world’s popular empanada, a Spanish-inspired snack. This deep-fried favorite can be eaten alone or doused with sukang Iloko (Ilocos vinegar). It’s one of the most mouthwatering food of the North. A true showcase of local Ilocano culinary ingenuity. Why, you say? The orange, cracker-like exterior is often filled with shredded green papaya, skinless Ilocos longganisa (local sausage), and egg. But it’s never limited to that! Ilocanos have always experimented using different cuts as meat filling, and everyone has their preference. When diving head-first into Ilocos cuisine, this could be on top of your list.

SAGADA: Igorot Etag 

When in Sagada, Etag is a must-try Filipino food! Etag is basically meat being smoked. It’s the general term used in the Cordilleras about the traditional way of preserving pork. As opposed to other kinds of smoking methods, Etag uses wood from a tree called alnos to add more flavor and aroma to the meat. It is said that those who taste Etag someday will be surprised to find out that it’s more than just a slice of smoked meat but a culture, an identity, and a way of life for the indigenous people. So, cannot say they’ve been to Sagada without tasting Etag!

CEBU: Cebuano Tuslob buwa

Tuslob buwa – a blackened, bubbled, chunky soup – is not your typical Filipino food. This traditional Cebuano street food is known for its unique and challenging flavor: a perfect blend of savory, salty, and spicy with a lingering tanginess. It is a creamy stew made up of pork liver, ears, and brains with chilis, garlic, onions, and shrimp paste. All of which are fried with oil or lard. The texture of the food is bubbly due to the fried flour that gives it an excellent taste when dipped in puso (rice wrapped in coconut or pandan leaves.) While it may be too much for some, those who don’t mind stepping out of their comfort zone will appreciate this delicacy for more than just its taste. A trip to the Visayas for the serious foodie isn’t complete without trying this!

SULU: Tausug Tiyula Itum

The “Food for Royalty” – tiyula itum is one of Mindanao’s most sought-after dishes during Muslim Weddings and Hari Raya festivals. It’s a beef soup prepared with beef or goat pieces cooked with lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and charred coconut meat. It takes its name from tiyula which means soup or stew, and itum which means black. The soup’s color came from the burnt coconut meat which flavors the dish, making it unique from any other dish found in the Philippines. This rich, spicy, and full-flavored soup is a wonderful taste of the Tausug culture and tradition. If you’re down in the far South, do not miss this one.

HOT TAKE: Is our Sinigang the Best Vegetable Soup in the World?

There’s a lot more of “travel to eat” in the Philippines. We’ve really only scratched the surface. We hope that you will take pleasure in exploring these must-try Filipino food. And maybe you can discover some more on your own! By the end of your trip, you’ll end up having a favorite, and we hope you can tell us which!

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