I’ve said countless times that a trip to the Philippines is a culinary adventure in itself. Aside from the stunning beaches and natural attractions, Filipino cuisine is gaining (albeit slowly) popularity among foodies worldwide.
Every island in the Philippines has its own cuisine and that’s saying something considering there are more than 7000. But where do you find the best and most delicious Filipino dishes? I’d daresay it’s in Pampanga, the Culinary Capital of the Philippines.
Kapampangans (local people) are considered to be the best cooks in the country. In fact, everyone expects them to excel in the kitchen, no matter where they are in world. So here are some of the most popular dishes from Pampanga, Philippines. A word of caution: these Kapampangan dishes will your stomach grumble.
This is one of my absolute favorites. Chopped pork parts, spices, some vinegar, lemon extract and often a freshly cracked egg served on a sizzling plate; need I say more? Some variations now use tofu, milkfish and chicken as the main ingredients.
This is made of frogs but hold your horses, or rather your frog legs. These are caught from the rice fields and stuffed with a yummy mix of ground meat and spices. Betute is a fried dish so it’ll be easy to pretend you’re just eating chicken. Try it and get hooked!
Consider this a glorified version of your mom’s meatloaf. It’s basically beef stuffed with different kinds of other meats including chorizo, ground pork, some veggies and spices and even a hard-boiled egg. This one’s a favorite during Christmas and New Year feasts.
Taba ng Talangka
This one isn’t necessarily a dish but a delicious addition to popular dishes. Taba ng talangka, also known as aligue, is fat and roe from crabs that’s seasoned and mixed into most Kapampangan dishes made of seafood. Lately, chefs have been incorporating this into yummy pasta dishes. Cholesterol, anyone?
Goat meat is not for everyone’s palate but it’s the best kind of meat for kaldereta. If you can’t find any, beef is a good substitute. This hearty dish of meat and veggies in a spicy savory sauce is to die for. Extra rice, please!
Mole crickets deep fried or cooked adobo-style: what could be more appetizing? This Kapampangan dish isn’t for the squeamish but even if you are, this is still a must-try. If worse comes to worst and bile rises up your throat at the sight of it, just close your eyes and swallow. And don’t worry, legs are removed for your dining pleasure.
Now on to something less gross! Have you ever eaten fern? Pako is a kind of fern cooked into a yummy and, needless to say, healthy salad. It’s your typical salad of tomatoes, spices and vinaigrette but with the yummy presence of salted eggs.
If you ever find yourself flying into or out of Clark International Airport, look up the closest restaurant that serves authentic Kapampangan dishes. Consider it a favor you’re doing for your palate. You deserve good food, whether you’re on vacation or just passing through the Philippines’ food capital.
Do you have photos of Kapampangan dishes to share? Drop us a line in the comments box below, we’d love to hear from you. See you around!