Christmas special: Top 10 traditional Filipino food

1. BIBINGKA is a popular delicacy in the Philippines that is composed of ground rice, sugar, coconut cream, placed in banana leaves and cooked in an oven. The rice cake is then topped with a spread of butter, shredded coconut meat, and muscovado or brown sugar before serving. A favorite holiday food, bibingka is traditionally eaten during the Christmas season especially after Simbang Gabi.
2. Puto Bumbong is another favorite delicacy during the Yuletide season. For Filipinos, the holiday season isn’t just all red and green but also purple! This traditional Christmas food is a mixture of coconut milk; glutinous rice and sugar, poured into a bumbong or bamboo tube, and steamed until well-cooked. This delicious delicacy is best served with butter on top, shredded coconut meat, and sugar.
3. Queso de Bola, also known as Edam cheese, is a yellow, round processed cheese wrapped with a coat of red paraffin wax. The cheese got its name from Edam, a town in Holland, where it originated.  Apart from its Christmas red ball features that adds a distinct touch of holiday delight on every table, queso de bola is loved by many Filipinos because of its distinct, creamy and buttery aftertaste, making it a perfect ingredient for various desserts or dishes.
4. Castañas. Also called roasted chestnuts, are common in other countries. Its rich aroma is another indication that Christmastime has begun in the Philippines. Castañas are among the season’s special favorites usually sold in supermarkets or by street vendors.
5. Ham is among the main dishes that graces the Noche Buena feast of almost every Filipino family. Cooked, cured hams or hamonado are seldom sold in the country. The sight of imported and local hams sold in supermarkets marks the start of the holiday season in the country. A good ham is savory and tender while the  traditional holiday ham in the Philippines has a distinct, sweet flavor.
6. Buko Pandan is a popular and much-loved Filipino dessert made with shredded coconut meat as its basic ingredient. It is mixed with sweetened milk, slices of pandan jelly and flavored with pandan extracts.
7. Spaghetti. You can never go wrong with the Filipino-style spaghetti with kids around! The Filipino-style spaghetti is adapted from the Italian pasta except with a twist of sweet taste. The sauce is composed of tomato sauce, muscovado (brown sugar) and banana or tomato ketchup mixed with hotdog slices and ground meat instead of the traditional meatballs. This dish  is best serve with grated cheddar cheese on top.
8. Ginger tea or hot chocolate drink. A heartwarming cup of hot choco is usually associated with the cold weather. Drinking herbal teas have been a part of the Filipino culture and during the cold season, nothing beats curling up with the traditional a cup of ginger tea, popularly known as Salabat, while sharing special moments with family.  Right after attending the Simbang Gabi, Filipino families often look forward to a steaming Salabat or a divine cup of hot choco, paired with bibingka or puto bumbong.
9. Fruit Salad or Crema de Fruta. Fruit salad is generally composed of fruit cocktail in can mixed with all-purpose cream and condensed milk. Another variation includes a mixture of cheese, buko and jelly. Serving an assortment of fruits in a more delicious and creative way, families prepare Crema de Fruta – a dessert made with layers of crackers with a mixture of cream and condensed milk or jelly in between and topped with fruit slices.
10. Lechon. Though not every Filipino family serves lechon during Christmas, the roasted suckling or medium-sized pig is an all-time favorite. The pig is skewered with long bamboo poles then hand-turned for hours over charcoal resulting in a crispy, golden skin and tasty meat, best enjoyed when dipped in lechon sauce. Lechon is originally a Spanish influence, but with the Filipinos’ love for food, it comes in different variations which include chicken and cow.


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