Lechon, with its delicious aroma, signature sarsa and perfect blend of tenderness and crispiness, is the truly the star of every Christmas party and family Noche Buena in the Philippines. Hailed as the “best pork dish ever” by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, lechon is a super tasty dish that’s plump and juicy on the inside, yet crispy on the outside. You can make each slice and piece of lechon even more delightful by dipping it in a classic Pinoy sauce, such as the spicy Pinakurat vinegar, Mang Tomas lechon sauce, chicken liver sauce, vinegar with chopped garlic, and soy sauce with native lemon.
2. Pinoy-style spaghetti
You can never go wrong with the Pinoy-style spaghetti with the sprightly kids around. Adapted from the beloved Italian pasta, the Filipino version is just like the quintessential spaghetti, but with a little twist. Unlike its traditional red tangy Italian counterpart, the sauce for the Pinoy-style spaghetti has a sweet kick to it, thanks to its unique sauce composed of muscovado(brown sugar), tomato sauce and banana or tomato ketchup.
And instead of the huge typical Italian meatballs, the Pinoy-style spaghetti uses ground meat and hotdog slices. To add a dash of zest to the dish, Pinoys normally sprinkle grated cheddar cheese to their spaghetti.
Photo credit: Flickr/Spaghetti Filipino Recipe/pulaw/CC-BY
3. Pancit Malabon
Can’t get enough of Filipino-style pasta? Then, make sure to include a whole big serving of Pancit Malabon to your table on your Christmas party! One of the most filling culinary treats in the Philippines, Pancit Malabon is a thick and savory yellow-colored pasta dish loaded with eggs and an array of seafood toppings, such as mussels, oysters, squid, smoked fish flakes and shrimps. Drizzled with annatto seeds, this Noche Buena favorite never fails to appease the palate of any Filipino foodie.
Photo credit: Flickr/More Pansit/Shubert Ciencia/CC-BY
The Bibingka is a sweet and luscious rice cake delicacy that is made up of coconut cream, sugar and ground rice, placed in banana leaves and baked in an oven. Then, the rice cake is topped with a spread of shredded coconut meat, butter as well as brown sugar before serving. Deemed as one of the holiday culinary favorites in the Philippines, the bibingka is eaten traditionally during the Yuletide season, especially after Simbang Gabi.
Photo credit: Flickr/Bibingka/George Parrilla/CC-BY
5. Fruit Salad
Fruit salad is a rather inviting treat that’s not just pleasant to the eyes, but to your grumbling tummy and taste buds as well. A staple appetizer or dessert to most Filipino parties, fruit Salad is a mixed bag of goodies with different kinds of fruits like diced pineapple, pears, banana and apple. Whether canned or fresh, this nectarous fruit mash-up is mixed with cream and condense milk, to add more sweetness and color to it.
Photo credit: Flickr/Mark’s fruit salad/Jessa and Mark Anderson/CC-BY
6. Sweet Christmas Ham
Ham is a mouthwatering holiday dish that graces the Noche Buena celebration of almost every family in the Philippines. Savory and distinctively sweet, a good typical Christmas ham in the Philippines will tickle your gusto with its tender meat as well as appease your sweet tooth with its special syrupy glaze. You can enjoy this type of ham on its own, or fry it to add more aroma and seasoning.
7. Castañas (roasted chestnuts)
Castañas may not be included in every Juan’s grocery list, but these freshly roasted chestnuts always give off a lovely warm feel amid the chilly December air. While others don’t like peeling chestnuts, some find it pretty therapeutic and relaxing.
8. Leche Flan
Leche Flan is a ridiculously luscious and rich custard dessert that can deliciously cap off your meal in any party or gathering during Christmastime. Heavenly and syrupy, the Leche Flan is just so hard to resist, even for those who are trying to shed off a few pounds. What’s more, it is one of those easy-to-prepare goodies that you can make even if you’re not a culinary or confectionary master. To make a leche flan, you just have to mix sugar, fresh milk, condensed milk and egg yolks, and then top it all off with caramelized sugar.
9. Lumpiang Ubod
Looking for a healthy and low-calorie treat to eat this Christmas season? You might want to add a plate full of lumpiang ubod on your table this Christmas season. With fresh vegetables, coconut and ground pork wrapped in lumpia, these Pinoy spring rolls are a refreshing and healthy appetizer for a Filipino-inspired Christmas meal. To more zing to it, these spring rolls come with a delightful sauce made from vinegar, corn starch and sugar.
10. Queso de Bola
No list of the best classic Christmas foods in the Philippines is complete without the inclusion of Queso de Bola. Often used as a centerpiece of during Noche Buena, Queso de Bola is a perennial family favorite that’s also always included in Xmas banquets. With a perfect blend of saltiness, creaminess and softness, Queso de Bola definitely makes an excellent and yummy table cheese that can be paired with fruits, bread, crackers, hams and wines like Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.
Photo credit: Flickr/Queso de bola/inakihuarte/CC-BY
11. Puto Bumbong
Puto Bumbong is arguably the most sought-after kakanin delicacy during the Christmas season sets in. Derived from the words “puto” (steamed glutinous rice) and “bumbong” (cylinder or bamboo canon), this purple-colored delicacy is a lovely combination of sugar, glutinous rice and coconut milk, poured into a bamboo tube, and steamed until well-cooked. To maximize the taste and flavor of Puto Bumbong, vendors usually serve it with shredded coconut meal, sugar and butter on top.
Photo credit: Flickr/Puto bumbong/Roberto Verzo/CC-BY
If folks in cold countries have eggnog to warm them up in December, Pinys love warming up with a hot cup of chocolate or tsokolate, be it the native chocolate, tableya, or the commercial powder. Paired usually with puto bumbongor bibingka, the tsokolate drink is, for most Pinoys, best savored right after attending the Simbang Gabi.