Get a taste of the Philippines with these easy Filipino side dishes. From cheese to fried rice to tomato salad, these unique dishes are the perfect addition to any meal.
Unless you live in the Philippines or somewhere with a thriving ethnic food scene, you may not have had much exposure to Filipino cuisine.
As you’ll soon find out from perusing these Filipino side dishes, that’s a shame. Filipino chefs incorporate a wide range of flavors into their food.
They love mixing sweet with sour, spicy with salty, and every other possible flavor combination you can imagine.
The result is pure delight for your tastebuds.
The Philippines are a string of islands in Southeastern Asia, so Filipino food is heavily influenced by all the different Asian cultures surrounding them.
As a result, you’ll find plenty of recipes that include rice, garlic, eggs, and veggies.
If you like Asian fare or simply enjoy food with bold flavors, you should check out these recipes.
1. Poqui Poqui
Sometimes served for breakfast and sometimes for dinner, poqui poqui is a vegetarian-friendly side dish that’s filling and relatively healthy.
The base for the dish is eggplant. To that, you’ll add onions, garlic, eggs, Roma tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
The texture is soft and pleasant, and the taste is earthy and garlicky. It’s a great way to start the day or end it, whichever you prefer.
Although people don’t usually eat it by itself, latik often acts as a dessert topper.
I suppose you’d call it a garnish, although we usually reserve that term for savory dishes.
Either way, latik is quick and easy to make. All you’ll need is water and grated coconut. (A cheesecloth makes straining easier, as well.)
Once finished, you can add latik to any dessert or sweet treat you like.
It gives them a bit of a toasted coconut flavor that’s really quite delicious.
Atchara is another food that people don’t often eat alone. Instead, they usually use it as a condiment.
The main ingredient in it is unripe, green papaya.
You’ll pickle the papaya using vinegar, salt, sugar, and water.
However, you’ll also add a few other ingredients to the mix for additional flavor.
These include carrots, bell peppers, and garlic.
They provide the condiment with a complex flavor that’s somehow sweet, spicy, and sour all at once.
It tastes great on barbeque, but many people use it on sandwiches or as a side with heavy meats like sausage or ground beef.
Lumpia are incredible spring rolls. They have the crispiest, crunchiest wraps surrounding the warmest, tastiest, and most tender fillings.
You can adjust the ingredients in the filling to better suit your tastes, but this recipe calls for a mixture of shrimp, pork, onion, celery, egg, carrot, and soy sauce.
The recipe also includes instructions on making the perfect dipping sauce for the rolls.
Most of the ingredients are easy to find, but the banana ketchup might give you pause.
Luckily, Amazon and most Asian markets sell it. There are even several Walmart stores that now carry the Jufran brand.
5. Puto Cheese
Puto is a traditional Filipino snack similar to a muffin, but it’s lighter, fluffier, and airier than most American muffins.
Most people make puto with rice, but this recipe uses all-purpose flour instead.
It’s a much faster way to make these tasty treats, allowing you to make 10 in less than 20 minutes.
You’ll also top each one with a slice of your favorite cheese to add an extra bump of yumminess to the already tasty snack.
I love fried rice; I’d go so far as to say I’m a fried rice junkie.
There aren’t too many ways you can make fried rice that I haven’t tried and don’t love.
However, garlic fried rice is one of my all-time favorites.
It takes only 15 minutes to make, and all you’ll need is rice, garlic, vegetable oil, salt, pepper, and scallions.
You can also add fried eggs.
Every bite of this rice contains enough garlicky goodness to send any vampire within 100 miles scurrying back to his coffin, and I love it.
The scallions may seem like overkill on top of all that garlic, but they’re not.
In fact, I usually go a little heavier on the scallions because I love them so much.
7. Pan de Sal
This recipe calls pan de sal the “quintessential bread roll of the Philippines,” and I’m inclined to agree with that title.
It’s rare to go to a Filipino gathering or even a small Filipino family breakfast and not see these on the table.
Of course, they’re delicious, so no one is complaining.
The rolls are soft, fluffy, and have a pleasant sweetness that pairs nicely with jam, marmalade, cheese, or peanut butter.
As a result, most people eat these for breakfast or as a snack rather than a dinner roll.
Truthfully, though, they’re pretty ideal for any meal of the day.
These mushrooms are spectacular, and aside from maybe the mushrooms themselves (baby portobellos), you probably have everything you need to make them already.
If you have mushrooms, onions, garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, and some peppercorns, you can whip these up in about 15 minutes.
It’s a fantastic vegetarian dish that pairs perfectly with rice or pasta, but I’m not going to lie.
Even though they’re vegetarian-friendly, there’s no tastier place for them than on top of a giant, juicy steak.
I use this recipe a lot, and I always tell people that it’s the coleslaw recipe for people who hate coleslaw.
It’s just that good. Plus, it’s no trouble to make at all.
The secret is soaking your cabbage in warm water before mixing up the slaw. (Okay, so the pineapple tidbits may have something to do with it, too.)
Once you’ve soaked and strained your cabbage, add the carrots, pineapples, salt, and pepper.
Then mix in the mayo and stir until everything is well-coated.
Be sure you give it time to chill before serving it. The recipe says 20 minutes, but I prefer to let mine sit for at least an hour.
If you’re looking for a light, refreshing lunch, consider making this cucumber tomato salad.
All you’ll have to do is thinly slice a cucumber, a red onion, and two plump tomatoes.
Then toss them with your favorite vinaigrette dressing and enjoy. It’s a healthy, tasty lunch in 5 minutes.
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