Filipino Celebratory Dishes

Not only Filipinos celebrate birthdays, weddings, baptismals, Christmas and New Years. The Philippines are also filled with colourful festivities all around the country at all times of the year – and so are the foods served on the tables. During these joyous events, Filipino women group together to prepare even more exceptional and sophisticated dishes.

Tables are often crammed with laborious and sumptuous Filipino cuisine frequently require hours of tireless preparation. In most cases, lechon (whole-roasted suckling pig) is the king of all the dishes, which serves as the centerpiece of the table. Lechon de leche (piglets) is a tastier version of lechon which can be a great substitute in the absence of an adult pig. Either way, both lechons are normally served with catsup, gravy or other special lechon dipping. Other celebratory dishes include puchero, caldereta, afritada, paella, embutido (meatloaf dish), mechado, menudo, relleno (stuffed fish or chicken), hamonado (sweetened cured pork, beef or chicken).

Suman is also everyone’s favourite. Suman is a Philippine rice cake made from cooked glutinous rice with coconut milk concoction, rolled and steamed in banana leaves. There is also another alternative for banana wrappers. Suman can also be served in palm leaves and is usually sprinkled with white or brown sugar. A huge platter of pansit canton (or other variations of the Chinese noodles) is also served along with a delightful selection of sweet treats such as leche flan, fruit and buko salad, maja blanca, sapin-sapin, and sorbetes (Pinoy version of ice cream made of coconut milk).

Coconut milk is also greatly used in some of the dishes such as the ginataang alimango (crabs cooked in coconut milk) and ginataang hipon (coconut milk with shrimp and squash).

In seasons like Christmas Eve, tables are also jam-packed with the preparation of hearty dishes.  Noche Buena, a big family celebration every eve of December 24th is the most celebrated event of the year. Ham normally stars the night, long with queso de bola (Edam cheese). Supermarkets and grocery stores are laden with these foods during this season. Both are usually chosen as the perfect company giveaways to their employees in addition to grocery items, pastries, brandies, goodies or red wines. Popular during this warm season of giving are puto bumbong (purple-colored glutinous rice cooked in bamboo tubes) and bibingka.

Not only cooked during the most special occasions but are also served in everyday meals are fresh and/or fried lumpia (lumpia means ground meat with vegetables wrapped in phyllo wrapper). Fried lumpia is often dipped in catsup or sweet & sour dippings or spicy vinegar while the fresh counterpart with garlic and sweet peanut sauce. And who wouldn’t ravage ukoy? A version of shrimp fritters (small shrimps typically with its shell and head combined with a batter and deep-fried until crisp).