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Philippines Exotic Foods - Country Fare At Its Best Central Luzon

Updated on September 12, 2011
Chef Yaas
Chef Yaas

Looks can be deceiving if one applies the standards of good cuisine to Central Luzon

The geography of the region is marked by a rather featureless topography with no distinguishing features. In terms of the weather, the summers can be very oppressive for the land; while come rainy season the whole area is seemingly submerged by endless expanses of water.

Despite these drawbacks, Central Luzon is nonetheless very productive. Rice is the main agricultural produce of the area. The broad rivers of the Central Plain also produce freshwater fish, crabs and lobster among others. The regular migration of birds from the Northern Hemisphere to the swamps of Candaba also provide the people with a source of avian game that augments the local fare. Truly, despite the almost landlocked topography of the region, Central Luzon still remains one of the most fertile areas of the Philippines.

Its cuisine is also very complex.

The province of Pampanga has, for decades, styled itself as the culinary capital of the country, with good reason of course, as most Pampangos love to cook and entertain. By far, however, the simple country fare of Tarlac, Zambales, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan is what most Filipinos associate with the region. Although Pampango delicacies are found in the following recipes, other simpler dishes were also included which you can whip up in no time.


  • 1 cup grated corn
  • 2 tbsps. chopped onion
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken meat, cooked then chopped
  • 2 tbsps. butter
  • 1 pechay leaf, minced
  • 1 mustard leaf (mustasa), minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. minced bacon
  • 1 head garlic, fried

Fry the bacon until it oozes oil. Add the onion and garlic and saute. Pour in the chicken broth and allow to simmer a little.

Meanwhile, dissolve the flour in milk. Pour into the simmering broth. Stir and allow to simmer some more. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the corn, followed by the chicken meat, pechay and mustard leaves, stir. Allow to boil for a few more minutes until the chicken is cooked. When serving, top with butter and fried garlic.


  • 2 kg. glutinous rice (malagkit)
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 2 pcs. chorizo de bilbao, sliced
  • 1 chicken liver, sliced
  • 1/2 kg. carrots, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, slice into cubes
  • 1 green bell pepper, slice into cubes
  • 1 thumb-size yellow ginger, crushed
  • 10 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 tbsps. patis or fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3 pcs. laurel leaf
  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsps. margarine

Heat the margarine in a pan and saute the garlic and onions. Add the chicken and season with patis. Add the liver, chorizo and crushed ginger. Allow to boil for 4 minutes.

Pour in the coconut milk and stir. Allow to boil for 5 more minutes. Add the malagkit rice and stir a little to mix. Allow to boil in medium heat until liquid lessens.

Add the bell peppers, carrots, raisins and laurel leaf, stir. Transfer the resulting mixture in a wok lined with banana leaves. Cover and allow to simmer for at least an hour until cooked.


  • 1 kg. tilapia
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced onion
  • 1/2 kg. tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 pcs. laurel leaf
  • 1 cup cooking oil

Clean and gut the tilapia thoroughly. Heat oil in a pan and fry the tilapia, set aside.

In a separate pan, heat oil and saute the garlic, onions and tomatoes. Add the soy sauce and season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce on top of the tilapia.


  • 1 thumb-size ginger, sliced
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 kg. dalag (mudfish), rubbed with salt, gutted, washed and drained
  • 1 small upo, sliced
  • 1 pcs. pechay

In a pot, pour in the water and add the ginger, onions and peppercorns. Allow to boil for 5 minutes.

Add the dalag. Allow to boil first before adding the upo and the pechay. Allow to simmer for 5 more minutes before serving.


  • 1 kg. fresh fish (e.g. hito or dalag)
  • 2 tbsps. salt
  • 6 tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 medium-size onion, quartered
  • 1/2 kilo tamarind, boiled then mashed to the pulp

Gut the fish. Rub with salt, rinse then allow to dry. Slice each fish into two pieces; set aside.

In a pot, pour in water, add the onion, tomatoes and then the fish. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Add the tamarind sour mash. Cook for 2 more minutes before serving.


AIRY CONTAINERS. Do not place onions and potatoes in the same covered container. They will easily rot. Place them in a container where air can pass through. The same goes for tomatoes. Another tip is to always check if any of these vegetables show signs of spoilage. If there are, use these first and remove the bruised or spoiled part.


  • 1 med. size mudfish (dalag), cleaned
  • 4 pcs. bananas (saba variety)
  • 1/2 pc. cabbage, sliced
  • 1 bundle pechay, leaves separated
  • 2 potatoes, sliced 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • whole peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • water

In a pan, saute the onion and garlic. Add the cabbage, potatoes and carrots. Saute some more. Add the bananas, water and whole peppercorns. Cover and allow to boil.

Add the mudfish and cook until the flesh is flaky. Cook some more until the liquid has reduced considerably and becomes a bit sticky.


  • 4 kg. large squid
  • cooking oil for deep-frying

For the stuffing:

  • 4 kg. pork
  • 1/2 kg. carrots
  • 1/2 kg. onions
  • 1/2 kg. tomatoes, seeds removed
  • 1/2 kg. celery
  • 8 tsps. salt
  • 2 tsps. ground pepper
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 1/2 kg. sugar

For sauteeing:

  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 5 heads garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 kg. onions

Wash the squids well, remove the tentacles and set aside.

Chop the pork and the tentacles; set aside.

Finely chop the carrots, onions, tomatoes and celery. Place in a bowl and season with salt, ground pepper, vinegar and sugar. Mix well. Add the chopped pork and tentacles. Mix anew.

Using a large pan, heat oil and saute the garlic and onions. Add the pork, squid and vegetable mixture. Cook over medium heat until the liquid evaporates.

Allow the mixture to cool a little before stuffing the squids with it. Deep-fry the squid until done.


  • 2 kg. ulang (freshwater lobster), washed
  • 4 cups rice wash
  • 4 tomatoes, sliced
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • salt
  • 1 green finger pepper
  • 1 bundle string beans, sliced into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 bundle kangkong, leaves and tender stalks only
  • 1 labanos (white radish), sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 kg. tamarind (sampalok) fruit, boiled, mashed then strained for juice
  • 3 tbsps. patis (fish sauce)

Place the rice wash in a pot. Add the ulang, tomatoes, onions, finger pepper and salt. Allow to simmer in low heat for 12 minutes. Add the string beans, labanos, and lastly kangkong. Add the tamarind juice; stir. Season with patis before serving.


  • 1 kg. pork, chopped into serving portions
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 pcs. bananas (saba variety), fried and sliced

Place the pork in a pot and cover with water. Allow to boil until pork is tender. Skim the water to remove impurities.  Add the brown sugar, ground pepper and vinegar. Allow to boil some more.

The pamplina is done when the sauce has thickened. Serve topped with the fried saba.


  • 1 kg. pork (pigue)
  • 1 kg. chicken
  • 1/2 liter pineapple juice
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup sliced pineapple
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1 laurel leaf

Marinate the pork and chicken pieces in pineapple juice, soy sauce, vinegar, laurel leaf and pepper for 2 hours.

Remove the pork and chicken and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan and saute the garlic and onion. Add the marinated pork and chicken along with the marinade. Allow to simmer until the sauce has thickened. Serve topped with pineapple slices.


  • 1 kg. pork, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 ampalaya (bitter gourd), sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. lard
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, place the pork in vinegar, crushed garlic, lard salt and pepper. Allow to simmer until pork is tender.

When the pork is tender, add the sliced ampalaya. Serve hot with rice.


  • 2 tbsps. cooking oil
  • 4 pcs. smoked bacon, sliced
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsps. paprika
  • 1 kg. lean pork, cubed
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced potatoes
  • 2 pcs. chili pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and saute the pork. Add the vinegar, salt and pepper. When cooked, allow to cool and set aside.

Heat oil in a deep pan and saute the garlic and the bacon. Add the lean pork. Add the tomatoes, green pepper, potatoes and paprika. Pour in water to cover the ingredients. Cover with pan lid and allow to cook for 10 minutes.

Remove the cover and season with salt and pepper to taste; stir. If you want a spicy humba, add the chili pepper.


SALT AND TIN. Do not place anything salty in a tin container. The container will easily rust. Place salt and other salty items like fish sauce in glass jars or bottles instead. The same goes with soy sauce and other oriental sauces that are salty as well. If placing salt in jars, choose one that has a big opening so that scooping salt will be easier.


  • 1/4 kg. pork cheek
  • 5 onions, chopped
  • 2 chicken livers, boiled
  • 1/4 tbsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 pcs. calamansi
  • 1 tbsp. margarine
  • 1 head garlic, chopped
  • 1 red chili pepper

For the marinade, mix:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 3 pcs. calamansi
  • 1 head garlic, crushed

Pour the marinade in a bowl and marinate the pork cheek for 2 to 3 hours. Remove the pork cheek, allow to drain and then grill until cooked. Chop the pork cheek. Mix with the onions and set aside.

In another bowl, mix the juice of the calamansi with the pepper, salt, chicken liver. Add the chopped pork cheek to the mixture.

To serve: Grease a sizzling plate with margarine. Place some garlic on it. Add the sisig mixture. Top with red chili pepper.


  • 2 tbsps. oil
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sliced tomato
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 kg. kamaro or rice field cricket

Individually remove the extremities of the crickets leaving only the head and body. Heat oil in a pan and saute the tomato and onion. Add the vinegar, and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add the kamaro. Season with salt.


  • I kg. glutinous rice (malagkit)
  • 10 cups coconut milk
  • 1    kg. white sugar
  • 2    cups young coconut meat, slice into strips

Place the rice and malagkit in a pot and allow to boil until cooked. When cooked, place in a bowl. Add the sugar and coconut strips. Mix well. Place in a baking tray. Top with the coconut milk and sugar mixture.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 350°F. Slice into portions before serving.


  • 1 cup glutinous rice (malagkit)
  • 2 cups ordinary rice
  • 3 cups cold water
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp. lye solution
  • yellow food coloring
  • grated coconut

Combine the malagkit and ordinary rice. Soak in water for 2 hours. Drain the rice and add cold water, grind into a smooth paste. Add boiling water to the mixture to thicken it. Blend in the sugar and the lye solution.

Divide the ground rice into two portions. Place one portion in a molder lined with cheese cloth and steam.

Meanwhile, add yellow food color to the remaining portion. Pour this on top of the steamed first portion to create a colored layer. Steam some more until the top portion is cooked. When cooked, serve with grated coconut.


  • 1 kg. galapong malagkit (glutinous rice dough)
  • 1 coconut, meat grated
  • 1/2 kg. sugar
  • water for cooking
  • sesame seeds, toasted

Divide the galapong into several portions, depending on the size of serving you desire. Roll each portion into a ball and flatten to make a tonguelike shape.

Boil some water. While the water is boiling, drop each of the galapong portions. It is cooked when it surfaces. Remove each cooked portion. Allow to cool.

Dredge in grated coconut and sprinkle with sugar mixed with toasted sesame seeds before serving.


  • 3 cups carabao milk
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup for rolling

In a saucepan, combine the first four ingredients and cook in low heat. Mix for 2 to 3 hours until the milk mixture becomes sticky.

Allow the mixture to cool. Form into elongated shapes and roll in sugar. Wrap individually if desired.


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    • monk3ybidzness profile image

      monk3ybidzness 6 years ago from Antartica

      @kendy hanap pa ko

    • profile image

      kendy 6 years ago

      masmaganda po if you post some picture of your recipes..thnks