Rain showers have inadvertently signaled the rainy season in the Philippines even early as June this year, although it officially begins in July or August. These also start off the season of preparing a smorgasbord of hearty comfort food made to warm and delight the senses while all cooped up indoors, listening to the sound of falling rain outside.
This practice that passed on for generations has become a mark of traditional Filipino cuisine and culture, too. Here, Skyscanner Philippines gives you five of the most loved Filipino dishes perfect for the cool and rainy weather:
1. Lugaw (Congee)
Lugaw is the Filipino name for Cantonese congee, or boiled rice porridge, similarly prepared but typically thicker and retaining the shape of rice. In a pot or in a rice cooker, rice is boiled in a large amount of water with strips of fresh ginger until it softens significantly. Most often the Filipino lugaw is cooked in chicken or beef stock and fresh strips of ginger, and topped with scallions, served with crispy fried garlic, and as side dish, fried pork and tofu. Lugaw is actually an all-day, any-day favorite for Filipinos as it is typically sold at streetside or hole-in-the-wall diners, but is appreciated most when cooked at home during the rainy days!
2. Tsokolate de Batirol served with Suman (Thick Hot Chocolate served with Rice Cake)
A warm cup of anything chocolatey, sweet or creamy is just the thing to lift up the spirits of any gloomy weather. In the Philippines, Tsokolate de Batirol proves to be the king of hot chocolate drinks—made with melted pure tsokolate tablea (chocolate or cacao tablets) mixed in with warm milk and sugar, or condensed milk. (Batirol is the stirrer made of wood that whisks the drink to perfection.) To make it an even more irresistible treat, pair this thick, creamy chocolate drink with suman (rice cake) with a slightly salty after-taste. Ah, the perfect reason to get up from bed on a rainy day!
3. Chicken Sopas (Creamy Macaroni Chicken Soup)
Photo credit: Ang Sarap
Sopas literally translates to soup, but the Filipino sopas is distinctly creamy and made with plenty of chicken, vegetables, macaroni pasta and milk. A very hearty soup not just ideal for the cold weather but also for giving relief for common cough, colds and fever, Chicken Sopas is inspired by the western Chicken Soup, only instead of turmeric to flavor and color the broth, Filipinos use creamy evaporated milk and often, a lot more noodles than chicken and vegetables. Best enjoyed on its own or with bread!
4. Champorado (Hot Chocolate Porridge)
Yet another warm, creamy and chocolatey treat is the traditional Filipino hot chocolate porridge, locally termed champorado. A cross between the Tsokolate de Batirol and the lugaw, champorado is made by boiling sticky rice with cocoa powder—thus the sticky, gooey texture and the rich brown color—and usually topped or seasoned with milk and sugar to make it taste sweeter. It is eaten as breakfast, dessert or any-time-of-day snack and on rainy days, it’s even better when eaten with strips of tuyo (dried salted fish)—the perfect sweet-and-salty combination!
5. Sinigang (Sour Stew)
Perhaps considered the Queen of Stews in the country, a bowl of steaming hot sinigang or soup or stew characterized by its sour and savory flavor. It’s often made with tamarind base to achieve the sour taste and with pork meat as the main ingredient mixed with native vegetables like tomatoes, onions, okra, kangkong (water spinach), gabi (taro corns) and sitaw (yardlong beans). Meat in sinigang can also be shrimp, fish, chicken or beef, and alternative sour ingredients guava, calamansi and kamias can also be used. A couple of green chili or jalapenos are popped in to give it a tiny bit of spicy kick. Kids and adults alike can never say no to this dish for lunch or dinner!
Of course there are a lot more, but these five top our list for being the ultimate home-cooked favorites! Whip up one of these any given rainy day and you’re sure to love the weather, Pinoy-style!