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MANILA, Philippines – The list is in, and the Philippines has made it! Taste Atlas has included four Filipino dishes in their annual Top 100 Most Popular Christmas Dishes for 2021. Can you guess which dishes made it?
In 14th place is the Noche Buena staple of lechon, rated at 4.2 stars. Taste Atlas calls the lechon, which is derived from the Spanish word of roasted suckling pig, one of the “most popular dishes in the Philippines” and is traditionally served whole on a platter at celebrations, festive events, weddings, and Christmas.
“The slowly-roasted suckling pig is usually stuffed with lemongrass, tamarind, garlic, onions, and chives, and is then roasted on a large bamboo spit over an open fire. Once the meat is properly roasted and falls off the bone, people tend to eat every part of the pig, and the crispy, reddish-brown, crackling skin is especially beloved,” they wrote. It is typically served with a thick, rich liver sauce (hello, Mang Tomas).
Taste Atlas also mentioned lechon paksiw, the classic post-Christmas reinvention of any lechon leftovers, slowly cooked with vinegar, garlic, and liver sauce for that “extra bit of flavor.”
The Simbang Gabi favorite, bibingka, also made it to the list in 65th place at 4.4 stars. The Filipino kakanin rice cake made from rice flour and water is traditionally cooked in clay pots on banana leaves, and enjoyed after Christmas mass, for breakfast, or as a snack.
“Through history, bibingka was adapted with additional ingredients, and nowadays it is typically prepared with milk, eggs, coconut milk, sugar, and butter, while modern variations may include anything from grated cheese, salted duck eggs or grated coconut, and a variety of different sweet and savory toppings,” Taste Atlas wrote.
The quintessential lugaw ranked 86th on the list at 4.1 stars. The traditional, warm, and comforting Filipino rice porridge is described as “warm, filling, and mushy,” and “acts as an ideal base for any type of meat and seasonings, just like a congee.” It is usually enjoyed for breakfast or as merienda.
“Many cooks like to add chicken, lemon, and ginger in order to improve the flavors of the dish. After that, it can be flavored with typical Filipino ingredients: scallions, garlic chips, sliced hard-boiled eggs, calamansi, or fish sauce,” they said.
Last (but definitely not least) is the creamy, fresh kesong puti, ranking in 90th place and coming in with 4.3 stars. The white cheese originating from Bulacan, Bacolod, Cebu, Laguna, and Samar is made from carabao milk, salt, and either rennet or white vinegar, and contains five times more milk fat and protein than fresh milk.
“It has a slightly pungent aroma and a salty flavor with a creamy aftertaste. Kesong puti is often consumed for breakfast, when it is served with local bread known as pan de sal, but the cheese is also typically served during Christmas and New Year’s festivities,” they wrote.
Among the four contenders, lechon was the only one who also made it to Taste Atlas’ Best Rated Christmas Dishes list for the year.
In August, Filipino savory-sour soup sinigang was deemed the World’s Best Vegetable soup by the international food database, topping the global list with a rating of 4.8 stars out of 5, voted by culinary professionals and diners from around the world.
In March 2019, kare-kare, lechon, and crispy pata found their places on Taste Atlas’ Top 100 Best Traditional Dishes In The World list of the year.
Taste Atlas is an online gastronomic database that promotes the local culinary culture of countries all over the world. The website contains over 10,000 specialty dishes, drinks, recommended restaurants, and local ingredients for anyone to check out before an international trip. – Rappler.com