Angela Dimayuga’s 10 Essential Filipino Recipes

The creative director for food and culture at the Standard hotels and former Mission Chinese Food chef chooses the dishes that define the cuisine for her.

Comments: 67

  1. Finally the wonders of Filipino cuisine are elevated in the culinary world. Food that comforted me in my youth and made me unique among my non-Filipino friends who would beg for lumpia and pancit as dishes to contribute to parties and special events. The weekly meal of the simple chicken stew of adobo, now made with only pork for my mestizo children. And the always reliable pot of warm rice (my preference is calrose) waiting to be doled out in a bowl and covered in gravy made of vinegar and soy sauce, thick with garlic and onions. It's an old world cuisine made new as the pearl of Asian cooking.

  2. Beautifully written and one that fully captures the authenticity of growing up and eating and yes, cooking, in a Filipino household.

  3. @Labrador lady Yes, yes, yes! The dining, the sharing of recipes, the week-long prep for parties, the banana ketchup - it all sounded so familiar! Thank you NYT and Ms. Dimayuga for this love song. A bright spot in this cloudy day!

  4. Beautiful! Thank you for publishing these. As someone who married into a Filipino family, I've always found it impossible to follow the instructions of my Filipino in laws because so much of their recipes are unstructured and based on taste/touch. Hoping to make some of these dishes that I've learned so much to enjoy.

  5. Thank you, Chef, for sharing these delightful recipes and your family’s ties to them. I cannot wait to try each of them! Mabuhay, I appreciate and ‘welcome’ your hard work!

  6. A lovely story about food, and the family . The way that flavors are layered with tomato, fish pastes, and sweet and sour fruits caught my eye, in particular.

  7. Thank you for sharing the recipes they are wonderful . As I read it it takes me back to Manila. I lived in the Philippines for more than 20 years and my memories are the same. I love this article and hope more people understand that it is a fine culture and the tastes that make the country so wonderful. Food unites us. You are so right the smell of the rice cooker is more comforting than you can imagine.

  8. Thank you! My favorite: "I didn’t know then that the food I grew up with was also complex and layered, refined over centuries and demanding meticulous technique." I gather "Josefina's House Special Chicken", your Lola's special chicken relleno, will remain a secret? As intrigued as I am to find out how she did the relleno, the chances of my even trying it are miniscule. But I do remember the elegance it brings to the dining table. Thank you again.

  9. Thank you for writing such a lovely article. It is so much more than just about food. Your roots, your culture, your family .. that’s what makes your telling so fascinating and lovable !

  10. This could easily be the story of my childhood, except my father and grandfather were the main cooks in the family (the women in my family clearly marry well 😉). Thanks for sharing, Angela Dimayuga!

  11. Only one correction: “sawsawan” translates to dipping sauce, of which there are many kinds. Vinegar steeped in garlic and chilli is a mainstay, but sawsawan varieties differ widely! Soy sauce with vinegar and onion was a must in our home for grilled fish, and I always loved fish sauce with calamansi for sinigang. There are also many, many kinds of vinegar — pinakurat is my true love.

  12. @Anna Yes, we may be connoisseurs of vinegar! I'm not Pampangan like the author but I was taught their coconut vinegar is "best." For sinigang, I learned (or did we invent it?) to fish out one of the spicy peppers in the broth and smash it a bit with fish sauce and/or make it into a little boat to hold my fish sauce.

  13. @Filipina without an Asian grocery nearby Yes, fellow NYT reader. My Lola and Mom made sinigang sawsawan exactly the same way and I. too, thought that they had invented it!

  14. I am laughing at myself having already commented on several of the recipes. So true, there seem to be as many of dish X as there are Filipinos in the kitchen! But I am happy to see our food featured here. How can one not love vegetables, growing up with sinigang?

  15. You have the best screen name on the whole internet. I bet that dinner at your house is delicious regardless of the ingredients you're able to buy.

  16. Wow nice top ten selection and all are my favorites and should have included sisig and crispy pasta.

  17. @Milo Go Sisig! Definitely my fave. Anthony Bourdain loved it, too. Described it as a perfect dish. It's hard to find the head of a pig, so I usually make it with...tofu!

  18. I am excited to try any one of these recipes. I’m always interested in making new dishes, especially from different cultures. These dishes fascinate me with their exotic mix of ingredients and techniques. Thank you for this introduction to Filipino food and for sharing some of your traditional family recipes. First thing on my list...coconut milk chicken adobo. Although the soy cured egg yolks sound so mysterious and lovely. It’s hard to choose.

  19. A wonderful article to feature as Filipino American History Month begins in the US. (http://fanhs-national.org/filam/about/) This year celebrates Filipina American women... be sure to thank and honor any Ate or Lola in your life who has made it possible for you to recognize the warmth that Angela Dimayuga so perfectly describes in her article!

  20. @ Maricel San Francisco, CA Filipino American History Month -- interesting. I hope the organizers will not white-wash the US liberation, occupation, withdrawal, and defense during World War II of the Philippines. I think that if the US drive to expand its domain of "manifest destiny" did not stop in the middle of the Pacific, but included annexation of Japan, Philippines, and Formosa (Taiwan), there would have been no 1941-45 war in the Pacific.

  21. Thank you for your well written discussion of our cuisine. Adobo certainly deserves to be number one on the list, though each cook in different regions of the country will have their own version, with not a single ingredient being measured. My mother taught me how to cook this dish after I moved to the US 29 years ago, emphasizing that one should taste the sauce as you cook it, and make adjustments as needed. I recently cooked chicken and pork adobo for my brother, who was here in vacation. He said my version of the dish was “Americanized” but he loved it. Can’t wait to try your version of adobo!

  22. Thank you for this article. The photos of the dishes are so beautiful I am compelled to start cooking!

  23. I've had 9/10 of these thanks to my wife, my in laws, and a few decent restaurants in the Chicago area where we used to live. Unfortunately, Boston is a bit of a dead zone for quality Filipino restaurants or stores. We have had to hike a bit of a distance just to get supplies, but it has forced us to cook more often from home and refine the recipes. Adobo is simple on the surface, just five ingredients, but I've never been able to nail it. Garlic rice is a lot easier and I look forward to making lumpias from home instead of frying frozen ones.

  24. Kudos and best wishes of success to the imaginative chef! The cuisine of the Philippines is only of one of the groups of many Pacific islands. "Hope springs eternal" that they may divert the Usans' taste from hamburgers and cheeseburgers, devoured while held in the hands.

  25. Thank you for this article! Beautifully written and you have captured the essence of Filipino cuisine! It has been 21 years since my mother passed away, and after her passing , I looked in vain for her cookbooks so I could keep her memory alive for my children by cooking her mainstay dishes. There were none....my Dad said all her recipes were in her head and she seasoned her food by the mouthful (meaning, she tasted and added until the dish tasted “just right”). 😩 I remember, too, how as a young bride, I would call my Mom for step-by-step guidance on how to cook simple dishes like tinola and munggo (okay, Mom, I have cut up the garlic. Now what do I do?) and being frustrated because she couldn’t give me exact measurements for the ingredients. I soon realized that the best way to learn how to cook authentic Filipino food was to watch my Mom cook. I do wish, however, that I had taken notes and written it all down as I watched! Thank you again for such a wonderful article that evoked such poignant memories of my Mom and her Filipino cooking!

  26. Please let me share one more Filipino food memory: When I was an undergrad at UC Irvine, my strict father always warned me that he could pop up anytime to “surprise” so there had better not be any boys in my room. My mother softened the threat by bringing Filipino food. So there my mother was, carrying a box filled with lumpia and pancit and ensaymada, as she and my father walked from the parking lot to my dorm. Behind them one could see a trail of dorm mates (mostly guys) following the aroma of good Filipino cooking. By the time Mom and Dad got to my room, there were 6-8 guys, plus my regular crowd of female suitemates, who decided that now might be a good time to say hi to me, and why yes, Mrs. Orduna, they would be glad to have some pancit and lumpia! Good times, good memories!

  27. I have never seen recipes for philipino cuisine ...have always been curious! Will definitely try some of these Thank you!

  28. thanks for the recipes. I grew up in the Philippines and really miss the food, especially bibingka, pancit, adobo, and ensaymadas.

  29. My introduction to Pilipino cuisine was as an 18 year old living in a UFW-rented farm labor camp with a couple dozen mostly Ilocano Manong’s in Delano, CA in the early ‘70’s. Tony Armington was the cook and I twisted my meat, (iceberg) salad, and instant mashed potato taste buds around this salty, sour strange vegetably food with pork or chicken (cheap cuts) cut so strange. And the rice! Always rice at all three meals served in the communal mess hall with wizened Mariano Santiago sitting in a battered chair and side table at the door checking off our names (with wry wit) as we filed in. I loved adobo and the monthly butchered pig grilled on a spit with the blood and intestines rushed to the kitchen to be transformed into, as Tony innocently told me, chocolate meat (dinuguan). After I relocated to the Bay Area, friends taught or tasted me to many more varieties of the great cuisine and later I was lucky enough to spend a decade visiting the island nation. By then rice was my staple. Many Filipinos, where I now live in rural Florida, have gardens supplemented with a trek to Orlando and the Asian markets there. I know they would love this article and the strides their ‘humble’ cuisine has made into fine kitchens. Thanks for the great article and more tastes to try.

  30. What a great article! Thank you so much I love this and am going to try and make them. I am lucky enough to be able to purchase fresh duck eggs less than a mile from my home.

  31. Great Article! I am cooking Pork Adobo right now. The recipe came from my Filipino father-in-law. It makes the house smell so good!

  32. Angela, You are a True Angel! I only wish I had known you during my many years living in San Francisco, CA but most certainly will indulge my Filipino food desires and my newfound Angela Dimayuga crush <3 at your eatery here in NYC and perhaps venture to try preparing your recipes. (I recall one Filipino joint c. 1998, a veritable 'shack' on The Embarcadero - amazing soups and dishes - I can't locate in searching now) Just returned from Greece, I understand in apprehending your lovely conversation with Ligaya both my affinity for the Philippines and the Filipino friends I continue to make over this Wonderful Life, for the vast, relatable, provincial qualities and variations of 'What is Greek' via your stories, traditions passed on by Your <3 Mother and Lola Josefina <3. So very sweet and loving how you honor them and your culture, I admire your discipline and commitment to share your family's lore with all of us, something I do on a personal scale with my elders' recipes but have no moxie to take professionally. Kudos, Congratulations and Gratitude for bringing and sharing The Love, Mses. Dimayuga and Mishan! Peaceful Abidings, Mga kapatid :) ME

  33. Salamat for this beautifully written and presented article. We cannot wait to dive in and cook our way through, especially now that our backyard Calamansi tree is ready with fragrant fruit <3

  34. This article is such a loving tribute to Filipino cuisine. I can't wait to try to recipes!

  35. I had many Filipino friends in NYC when I lived there and always loved the people, the parties and the wonderful food, especially chicken and pork adobo. I am addicted to the vinegary taste -- it's total umami cuisine! This article is fantastic and Angela is obviously an amazing cook and brilliant ambassador of the great Filipino culture. I cannot wait to try several of these recipes, especially the chicken adobo with the coconut sauce. Thank you!

  36. Lovely piece. The writing and voice are lovely. Thank you!

  37. Salamat po for this delicious article! As a child of a Pampangan mom I have enjoyed many varieties of these, but after reading various similar recipe lists and various Philippino cuisine books, I am constantly surprised how little mention there ever is of Paksiw, our mainstay dish of a protein (usually bangus, a.k.a. milkfish) stewed in vinegar, garlic and peppers. Served over rice with seasoned raw tomatoes it gives Adobo a run for its money as the most satisfying PI dish in my book!

  38. I grew up with many Filipino families and fondly remember food always being at the center. I'm excited to share this article with some of my extended cousins. Wonderful article!

  39. What, no Kare-kare the reason to eat lots of bagoong, or crispy pata, only to finish with Halo Halo. I suppose the problem is limiting the selection to the top ten.

  40. This is incredible. I have loved Filipino food from afar but seeing these dishes is mind blowing! Thank you for sharing these!

  41. As a Filipino American and being raised mostly by my Lola as a child in the US, I have fond memories of simple foods like monggos, canned/tinned sardines in tomato sauce cooked with egg and garlic, boiled okra and paksiw ng isda which is some kind of fish, either bangus (milkfish) or mackerel, simmered with vinegar and assorted vegetables. Thanks for shedding more light on Filipino cuisine which truly deserves a place in the culinary world.

  42. Relating to this idea of sour/vinegarish, I grew up loving the smell of thesse foods but was raised in a very American household which was meat/potatoes/dessert based. A very sweet diet as opposed to sour. The few sour items were so attractive by smell yet I wouldn't try them until my teen years when I became less fearful. And that started with sauerkraut which I'd sit by the stove and smell but never eat! Now my love is Asian foods and those with that sour flavor. The simplest being simple cucumbers and vinegar! Thank you for teasing me to try the foods of your Lolo's menu. Just reading them makes me want to eat them. Also, including vegetables in my diet has increased one hundred percent since finding these cuisines. I was known as the one kid who would never eat veggies growing up. Now I love them!

  43. These are lovely, thank you!

  44. Thank you for sharing. My mother-in-law is also from Pampagna! I will be saving this article for my daughter.

  45. Mabuhay Angela! As a visitor to Bataan in the early 1970’s I was treated to an enormous amount of Shanghai fried lumpia cooked in Baguio oil in a huge wok over a wood fire to celebrate my birthday. I would remember the details better if I hadn’t enjoyed so many San Miguels. Baluts were much enjoyed by the household children, but I never sampled any myself.

  46. My mom made these dishes when I was a child, but I’m not good in the kitchen so I lost touch with the food. You’ve inspired me to get in there and recreate a bit of the past. Thanks for your article.

  47. This article about Philippine cuisine is above the rest. It was written from the heart. I could smell and taste the calamansi if not the food itself just by reading it. The photographs brought real fond memories of how real good food is prepared and served. And that is from kitchen utensils and wares that you could tell have served their purpose. This article reminds me of family, the warmth of home, where the heart is. Cabalen, thanks for the article and I wish you well.

  48. Thanks for a fantastic article. I grew up in Australia and New Zealand with my Filipino Mum and Australian Dad. There weren’t the ingredients for Mum to cook many of her dishes, but she adapted so many things. This year, my kids had their Lola visit and she loved the ingredients available to cook up things every night. My wife and I would comment, how did she do that? She’s from Negros and her dishes carry the salt and sour with some distinctly different flavor notes. With so many islands and regional influences, there is so much to love and discover about the cuisine of the Philippines. Thank you sharing your stories and helping bring these dishes to the forefront.

  49. Excited to try some of these recipes. Where are you selling Josefina’s House Special Chicken these days? Given the time I imagine it takes to make one - a delicious one, that is - $75 should be a bargain.

  50. I recall entering my parents' tiny one bedroom apartment across the street from hospital where my mother worked as a nurse at 1am 45 years ago to a table laden with most of these foods the Chef writes about. Later my mother would have me prep for 500 lumpia shanghai she was making for a party at the hospital. I remember going with her to her butcher with all the ingredients for her embutido and ask the butcher to grind the meat with the ingredients and later make the embutido (wrapped in caul fat--rich and fatty). These memories make me smile, even as I miss my mother, gone now for almost 20 years. Maraming salamat Chef. Mabuhay!

  51. Wonderful article on a family and a culture, and how food is part of our identity. Thank you!

  52. Oh, what sweet memories of the two years my family and I spent at the UP College of Agriculture in Los Banos, and while I was doing research at Dumaguete (flying in on DC-3's). My Filapina colleagues at UPCA insisted upon a real snack both morning and afternoon. I could never understand how they could eat so much! I do try, from time to time, to make Pancit, even chicken or pork adobo. Among other things, the characteristic sour taste is unforgettable. I once encountered "Vietnamese Lumpia" in the Netherlands! It's just too bad that, except for a few places, say in California, Philippine food hasn't taken on like it should.

  53. I was born in Manila and fondly remember a number of these dishes. However my favorite Filipino food is lechon (roast pig cooked on a spit). Least favorite is lugaw (tied with talinum) which my parents and I subsisted on (barely) for the fourth year of my life during our stay as unwilling guests of the Imperial Japanese Army. Even more than the food, I love the Filipino people whose loyalty and generosity allowed us to survive. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas.

  54. Thank you for the "10 Essentials" series. I love eating foods from around the world and can't wait to see which country and chef you profile next. I was born in the Philippines to a German-American airman from WI and a Filipino mother. I'll put up my German dinners against anyone else, but try as I might, I haven't quite nailed down the same flavors of pancit, lumpia, and sinigang as my mother's versions. I use all her brands (Kikkoman, Calrose, the familiar white box-royal blue lettering of Mochiko in my pantry), but the Filipino food I make is just good, not great. It's probably because I have no written recipes and am working on taste memory alone. I'm glad to have these recipes. Thanks, Angie and NYT Cooking!

  55. Wonderful article and recipes. I knew a lola once: I met her in a club down in old Soho Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like Coca Cola

  56. Wow! This all looks amazing!

  57. Thanks to the author for such a beautiful acknowledgement of Filipino food, which I came to love when I was lucky to live and work in the Philippines in the 1990s. So delicious and so varied across every region and province and so intertwined with the culture.

  58. My heart swells from national pride whenever Filipino food is the subject of praise. Yes, it is a long time coming and yes, it deserves a place in the firmament of cuisines that doesn’t always have to be skewed along the white “Euro-centric” palate. It was not an easy path and the road was a slog. But there were pioneers who never gave up and persisted. I find it very baffling therefore that pioneers like Romy Dorotan and Amy Besa of the former Cendrillon and now Purple Yam are rarely acknowledged, if at all. They have been around since the 90s when these chefs were barely out of diapers. They opened the way and made it possible for new Filipino chefs to walk down the path. If not for Romy and Amy, I have to wonder if any of these chefs would have dared take the same giant steps that they did. They have been rendered irrelevant by omission when in fact, they should be given credit where credit is due.

  59. Yum! Makes me want to rush to a Filipino restaurant! Although rather than empanada, I would include Chicken Tinola.

  60. I love this article! I am just a white lady from Indiana, but I was once in a Filipino family by marriage. We've since divorced, but when we were married, I made my husband lots of Filipino food. It wasn't easy to get my hands on recipes then. It makes me happy that new resources like this are available now! I had the pleasure of visiting the Philippnes for two weeks at one point as well. I will dream of cheese ensayamada from Mary Grace forever! All the food was SO delicious. I am so happy Filipino food is finally getting it's due. It really is a marvelous cuisine that I happily prepare even without being in a Filipino family any longer.

  61. Now that my lola is gone and Mom is in her 80s it's up to me to remember her recipes. (Our loyal maid knows most of them but she's there, taking care of Mom, and doesn't email. I suppose I could text her.) Thanks especially for the heads-up about Vietnamese tamarind for sinigang; sinigang-sa-kamatis (tomatoes for sourness) is reasonable but just not intense enough. BTW, the comments so far provide a poignant snapshot of the Filipino diaspora.

  62. What a beautiful article. I'm glad there is finally a small, but growing, shift in peoples' thinking that cuisines *OTHER THAN* French, Italian, and Japanese can be sophisticated too and not simply cheap eats. I look forward to following Ms. Dimayuga's culinary career!

  63. This article and the featured recipes make me nostalgic and proud. Nostalgic because I am also from Pampanga and like Angela, my Apo (grandma) and Ima (mother) were very good cooks and were the unrivaled creators of the best Filipino food ever. When they were still around everyday was like a fiesta. There were 9 of us siblings and with the live-in help, my parents and another grandma. there were at least 12 of us they would cook for. I grew up watching them preparing meat slices and concoct sauces with scents that make one salivate and eager to ravish whatever magic treat they come up with. Later on, I would know the names of these treats by how the meat is sliced. Adobo if the meat is cut jn cubes, menudo and mechado if it's sort of rectangular. And so on. I feel proud that The Times featured Filipino cuisine and asked Miss Dimayuga to share her recipes. Finally, Filipino food is out there in the mainstream. If Apo and Ima were still around, they would be so elated and I'm sure they will add asado lengua as an essential.

  64. Thank you for featuring a chef showcasing the cuisine they grew up eating

  65. Lucky enough to live where there is a large amazing Filipino food selection. The food, the culture, I love it. I so missed it when I have lived in other parts of this country. I hope now with the growth of "foodie' culture, that this amazing type of food gets more popular and the ingredients easier to conger up. Her recipes look delicious.

  66. Where in the world is Kare-Kare? I would replace the Embotido with Kare-Kare. I shared this article on FB and the two friends that acknowledged this article agreed with me. Also condiments is not a must where I came from (Cebu City) and even now. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful article. Kudos to the author!

  67. Really fascinating, and I especially appreciate the notes about the condiments and special ingredients.