Filipino cooking is characterized as simple, with dishes requiring a minimal amount of ingredients, and are cooked without requiring an elaborate number of utensils.
This even though Filipino cuisine is influenced by a variety of Spanish, Malay, and Chinese origins.
Most dishes in the Philippines are stewed, sauteed, broiled, braised, or fried. There are a few major styles in preparing and cooking Filipino food. The first involves vinegar, which is present in popular dishes such as adobo, paksiw, and sinigang.
In addition to adding sour base taste, vinegar also brings its preservative effects into the food. Another style in Filipino cooking style is the use of fish sauce or patis as the main ingredient. Patis is not as prominent as vinegar though and, in its absence, is substituted with salt. Many cooking ingredients not available can be substituted with appropriate replacements, thereby altering the flavor a bit.
Here are some common cooking methods in the Philippines. These cooking styles were developed and practiced with practicality in mind: few, cheap and readily available ingredients, fewer utensils, and relatively quick cooking.
Nilaga (Boiling) – soup dish favored, especially during wet seasons. Among the popular dishes cooked using this method are nilagang baka, pochero, and bulalo. It consists of boiled leg bone marrow with cartilage, meat, and a green vegetable such as cabbage.
Inihaw (Grilling) – one of the best means to cook fish, chicken, and meat. It is performed by cooking directly on the heat of fire or charcoal. Lechon manok and lechon baboy are examples of this cooking method.
Halabos (Steaming) – done in a bowl-shaped pan and dish is often wrapped in aluminum foil to preserve flavor or laid bare and covered.
Prito (Frying) – the cooking of food in oil or fat. Pan-fried foods are generally turned over once or twice during cooking, using tongs or a spatula.
While Philippine dishes can easily be classified as simple and easy to cook, such dishes may be prepared differently. That is because each region may have a different way of cooking, depending on the availability of ingredients or cooking preference known in the region. Adobo, for example, usually uses pork meat. But in regions with large Muslim populations, chicken or beef are used instead.