Part of what makes Filipino cuisine so unique is not just the cooking methods used but the ingredients that comprise each dish. If you’re unfamiliar with Filipino dishes, you might be surprised to know the vast range of ingredients Pinoy chefs use to prepare and cook various recipes. In today’s blog, we take a look at the key ingredients that are most commonly used in Filipino cuisine:
- Moringa leaves
Moringa leaves or more commonly referred to by Filipinos as malunggay leaves come from the drumstick tree. The drumstick tree is native to the Indian subcontinent and is widely cultivated due to its traditional medicinal properties. Moringa leaves are used in soup and healthy dishes since it contains protein, iron, and vitamin C. Additionally, it’s also rich in quercetin antioxidants that may help lower blood pressure.
Filipinos love spicy food which is why chili or sili is commonly found in most Filipino dishes in Happy Valley, Oregon. When preparing spicy Filipino foods, you have the option of using either siling labuyo or siling mahaba. Siling labuyo or wild chili is a small-sized chili that is known for its extremely spicy taste and is typically used for dipping sauces. Meanwhile, siling mahaba or long chili is a flat, finger-sized chili that is commonly used for boiling soups like paksiw or sinigang.
- Citrus fruit
Citrus fruit is a small acidic fruit that is used to season food. Locally, it’s called the kalamansi and emits a taste of lemon, mandarin, and lime all in one. As a result, it’s used to marinate meat and is squeezed on noodles for that extra kick. It can also be used to make desserts and kalamansi juice.
Coconut or niyog is a versatile ingredient and is commonly used in dishes and in Pinoy desserts Oregon too. Small coconuts called buko are known for their sweet, refreshing juice which can be taken as a beverage or used to make desserts like the popular halo-halo. Niyog on the other hand is a fully mature coconut that is grated and squeezed with water to extract coconut milk or gata which can be added to ginataang manok (chicken cooked in coconut milk) or adobo.
Of course, no list of essential ingredients used in Filipino foods can be complete without mentioning rice. Rice is a staple in Filipino cuisine and typically accompanies all meals throughout the day. As the second-largest importer of rice worldwide, the Philippines is a rice-growing and rice-eating country with most if not all households including rice in their diet.
Sink your teeth into delicious Filipino dishes at Kuya’s Islander Cuisine! Come visit us at one of our branches to enjoy your favorite Pinoy foods. We also offer food and catering in Gresham, Oregon for birthdays, graduation parties, corporate events, and more.