Tag Archives: Food

The best posts about food and exotic food photography will be included in this section.

7 Philippine cuisines – Halo-Halo, Adobo, Kare-Kare

Delicious Pinoy dishes

While the Philippines certainly aren’t known for their food, below are 7 Philippine cuisines that we enjoyed. I’ve listed my 7 top Pinoy dishes that stand out from my month in the country, and one that I absolutely would not try (it’s a duck fetus – scroll the bottom to see Bourdain eat it).

1. Halo-halo! – It’s not #1 for the taste, but for the joy people get just saying the name. It might be impossible to pronounce it properly without smiling.

I’m serious – I heard it spoken dozens of times in my month in the Philippines, and each time I’d see a wider smile than the last. I really wanted to like it!  Despite the welcomed enthusiasm, I found it to be disappointingly not that tasty.

Halo Halo! Filippino dessert (Philippine cuisines at Visit50.com)
Halo-halo! Filipino dessert from my first day in the Philippines
What’s in halo-halo?

The name translates in english to “mix-mix” and it’s fitting. It’s always made of shaved ice, evaporated milk, and sugar. Then it appears to be whatever they have to throw in. They’ll add red beans, coconut gel, jackfruit, tapioca, corn flakes, jelly beans, yams, plantains caramelized in sugar. Yeah throw it in!

You may remember Halo-halo! from Top Chef:

Halo-halo was featured as a Quickfire Challenge dish in the seventh episode of the fourth season of reality television series Top Chef. Filipino-American contestant Dale Talde prepared halo-halo. It’s avocado, mango, kiwi and nuts. They named it as one of the top three Quickfire Challenge dishes by guest judge Johnny Iuzzini of Jean-Georges. [wikipedia]

2. Kare-Kare is classic Pinoy dish featuring oxtail and vegetables cooked in a thick peanut sauce. Yum!

Kare-kare Filipino dish

3. Chicken Adobo / Pork Adobo is a simple yet reliably delicious Filipino meal staple. It’s chicken or pork (or both!) braised in garlic, vinegar, oil, soy sauce. This Philippine cuisine tastes better than it looks!

Chicken Adobo - Philippine cuisines
Chicken Adobo

The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook blog says that every Filipino family has their own adobo recipe, and fortunately they share a few variations.

4. Puchero translates to stew pot. This is a Philippine dish with beef in bananas and tomato sauce:

Puchero, which translates to stew pot, is a dish with beef in bananas and tomato sauce - Philippine cuisines at Visit50.com
Puchero, which translates to stew pot, is a dish with beef in bananas and tomato sauce. This is one of my favorite Phillipine cuisines

5.  Longganisa is Filipino sausage. It’s similar to chorizo.

See below:

Longganisa, Philippine cuisines

6. Hamonado is a dish with pork sweetened in pineapple sauce. Yum!

Hamonado – pork + pineapple. Photo credit + recipe


7. Beef Kaldereta is another simple pinoy dish. It’s beef (or often goat shoulders!) in a tomato sauce stew.

Beef Kaldereta
Beef Kaldereta – meat in a tomato sauce stew. recipe & photo credit
And one Philippine dish that I most certainly will NOT eat

Next, let me introduce you to a food I would not eat in the Philippines.

Balut are duck eggs. They’re incubated until the fetus is all feathery and beaky, and then boiled. I’m told you can taste the feathers. That’s right – it’s a duck fetus!  ewwwh!

Check out my full post on Balut, where I explain what it is, how it’s prepared, and show videos of people enjoying it for the first time.

Balut closeup
Balutduck fetus!

Bonus – this is mostly unrelated to the 7 dish list above, but…

bacon wrapped hot dogs
I kept seeing people selling these bacon wrapped hot dogs. How has this not made it to the US yet??

Which is your favorite Philippine cuisines?  Do you have a favorite Filipino dish? I’m ready to eat!


Eat with your hands in Asia

Eat with your hands in Asia for meals like the locals – but be prepared! There may not be paper towels or napkins, or even soap. Here’s what you need to know to stay clean and safe when eating with your hands in Asia.

[If you’re squeamish, here’s a warning. You may find this post to be disturbing, on par with the post on airline bacteria]

Eat with your hands in Asia

Paradox: The more likely a culture is to eat meals with their hands in Asia, the less likely to find napkins on the table. Or even soap in the bathrooms. Disturbing!

Mailbag: You’ll love choosing your own fresh fish at a market and eating street food. However, I’ve been asked a bunch of related questions about the quality of food and safety of eating street food. Also the cleanliness of restaurants. I’ve also been asked if the “Three Seashells” method was used (best line from the movie, Demolition Man).  This post is for you! So yes, after traveling around KL and all around Malaysian Borneo, I had to make a few mental adjustments and preparations.

Here are a few observations:

  • If you’re at a restaurant where you eat with your hands, like I found frequently in Malaysia, often no utensils are used. This is common in lots of other areas in the world. Occasionally you find chopsticks and definitely no forks, no knives. Not even a spork!  Westerners are used to using our hands for foods like hamburgers, fruit, and bite sized appetizers, but nothing as little as rice, and nothing messy. You’ll adjust. Here’s the icky part. Get your hand sanitizer ready…

The cleansing power of water

  • That bowl of water is NOT for drinking. Street restaurants occasionally have a bowl that acts as a communal hand washing station. In my first exposure to it, the guy next to me dipped his hands in it and the water changed color. I thought it was the first time he washed is hands in days. Lovely. Be prepared…

Using the Cucumber Method after you eat with your hands in Asia

The Cucumber Method: Beyond a bowl of murky water, rarely are any napkins provided. They typically aren’t even available upon request. Occasionally you’ll find another bowl with sliced cucumbers. These are not there to be eaten but rather to be squeezed and rubbed until whatever crud you have gets off your hands.

Tiny tissues provided

If you’re really lucky, in rare instances, instead of the cucumber solution for hand-washing is a dispenser of tiny tissues. Given the previous two bullets, this is a welcome addition. It’s often custom to eat with your hands in Asia, and the food is not exactly neat. Thus this level of quality tissues dissipate right in your hands.

Napkins? Paper towels?

Paper towels? Napkins?  Never heard of them. If they give any paper, it’s tissues that evaporate with water.

Tissues are apparently the same thing. People often eat with their hands, but there’s typically no paper (napkin, towel, tissue) to wipe them afterward. After going to the bathroom there’s often no soap. Thus, they’re just rinsing water on their hands. Then they go back to eating with their hands.

Here’s the icky part when you eat with your hands in Asia

Bathrooms often don’t have toilet paper (or tissues). Get used to making sure you have your own supply with you. Or do as the locals do. In most of Asia, locals don’t use “wasteful” toilet paper. They use a hose next to the toilet.  That’s right, it’s the same hose that everybody touches. Perhaps that solution would be fine, if only there were soap. There’s typically no soap. They eat with their hands, but often don’t provide soap to clean those hands. Ewwh.

Bathrooms without soap in Asia??

Bathrooms rarely have paper towels or air drying. In most cases they don’t have soap (including nicer places). Apparently they believe in the cleansing power of water. Perhaps this whole soap thing is a just a fad. Perhaps they don’t believe in Hepatitus A. How can a country where everyone eats with their hands not have soap in the bathrooms!?!  I found that last part rather disturbing.

Now let’s tie this together. Especially in small towns, people often eat with their hands in Asia. That’s because there’s typically no paper (napkin, towel, tissue) to wipe them afterward. After going to the bathroom there’s often no soap. Thus they’re just rinsing water on their hands. Afterward they go back to eating with their hands.

BYO hand sanitizer, Pepto, tissues, napkins

You’ll want to bring a few things with you in your daypack.

What to bring to eat with your hands

Thus, I felt like my time in Malaysia was unofficially sponsored by Purell hand sanitizer and Kleenex. This is because hand sanitizer and tissues are must-have items in my day-bag at all times. With questionable meals, Pepto tablets before meals are a must. This is especially the case in unsanitary, dirty, or just questionable conditions.

Travelers sickness

While many people get “travelers sickness.” I was lucky. Somehow in 6 months I only got sick once. And this was not in SE Asia. It was in the desert of Jordan. Eat with your hands in Asia, but be prepared.

With all of that said, I really loved the food in Malaysia. It’s one of the best cooking in Southeast Asia is in Malaysia. If you go, just be prepared and you’ll love it!

The 3 Seashells Method

Below is the clip I referenced from the movie Demolition Man, which is set in the future. They have an unconventional method of washing their hands.

If you eat with your hands in Asia, you’ll want soap and toilet paper. Instead you might see the 3 seashells method (just kidding, it’s a Meme from the Demolition Man film)

"3 seashells method" - not great if you eat with your hands in Asia (Demolition Man)