Prior to Spanish colonization in the 16th century, Filipino cuisine was heavily seafood-based, with rice and vegetables as staples. Spanish colonization introduced new ingredients such as tomatoes, potatoes, and corn, and popularized dishes such as adobo and lechon, as well as cooking techniques like baking and frying. American colonization brought convenience foods and fast food, which were quickly integrated into the cuisine. After gaining independence in 1946, traditional cooking techniques and regional cuisines were celebrated, and Filipino chefs gained recognition for their culinary skills. Filipino dishes typically feature a combination of sweet, sour, and savory flavors, often achieved through the use of vinegar, citrus, and soy sauce. Many dishes also incorporate coconut milk, ginger, garlic, and a variety of spices for added depth and complexity. Today, Filipino cuisine is a fusion of traditional and modern influences, known for its bold flavors and use of fresh, local ingredients, with popular dishes including adobo, sinigang, kare-kare, and sisig. Overall, Filipino cuisine is a vibrant and flavorful representation of the country's diverse cultural heritage that can be an exciting addition to your group’s meal plan!
While it shares some similarities with other Southeast Asian cuisines such as Thai, Vietnamese, and Indonesian cuisine in its use of herbs, spices, and bold flavors, Filipino cuisine also incorporates Spanish and American ingredients and cooking techniques. For example, adobo, one of the most famous Filipino dishes, uses vinegar and soy sauce as a base for marinating and stewing meat, a technique introduced by the Spanish. Filipino cuisine also features a lot of stews, soups, and braises, similar to Chinese cuisine, but with distinct Filipino flavors and ingredients like bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) and calamansi (a citrus fruit). The use of coconut milk and coconut oil in many dishes is another hallmark of Filipino cuisine that distinguishes it from other Asian cuisines. And unlike some Asian dishes that feature fried rice or noodle stir-fries as entrees, those elements are largely considered sides in Filipino cuisine.
When it comes to buffet-style catering, we recommend ordering for a slightly larger number of people than your expected headcount. (We usually recommend between 10%-20% higher than your headcount!) This is because sometimes folks may take more food than intended while going through the buffet line, and you want to make sure everyone gets their fair share. Additionally, it's always a good idea to add some extra buffet-style sides to your order, just in case. After all, everyone's idea of a "full portion" can be different, so having a little extra on hand can never hurt!
Yes, there are many gluten-free dishes in Filipino cuisine including grilled meats like inihaw na baboy (grilled pork), seafood dishes like sinigang (sour soup with fish or shrimp), and vegetable dishes like adobong sitaw (stewed green beans). However, it's important to look out for the (GF) indicator next each menu item to truly know if a dish is gluten-free or not. Some dishes are prepared with soy sauce which is generally not gluten-free.
Are there vegan and vegetarian options for a Filipino buffet?
Absolutely! Filipino cuisine has a variety of vegan and vegetarian options available, from vegetable-based dishes like pinakbet (mixed vegetable stew) and ginataang kalabasa (squash in coconut milk) to tofu-based dishes like tokwa't baboy (tofu and pork). You can also enjoy various appetizers and sides such as lumpiang ubod (spring rolls filled with coconut and vegetables) and ensaladang talong (grilled eggplant salad).
What goes well with a Filipino Buffet?
There are a lot of tasty Filipino side dishes to choose from, such as atchara which is a refreshing pickled papaya salad. Another popular option is ensaladang talong, which is a grilled eggplant salad that is packed with flavor. For something more substantial, you can try the delicious lumpiang shanghai, which are deep-fried pork and vegetable spring rolls that are sure to be a hit with everyone.
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