When we say Filipinos aren’t wasteful, we mean it. From pig ears (tenga ng baboy) and chitterlings (bulaklak) to chicken bottoms (puwet ng manok) and intestines (isaw), nothing is off the table — including developing bird embryos that are boiled and eaten from the shell. (Yes, we’re talking about balut.) And all of the aforementioned dishes — and more, like fish balls and deep-fried bananas — are quintessential Filipino street food. Take isaw, for instance: It’s so popular, university students are typically seen snacking on the grilled chicken intestines between classes.
Filipinos have knack for making these unconventional animal parts tasty AF, and it’s all thanks to both their creative recipes and their clever, yet heavy-handed use of the herbs, sauces and veggies they use to season their dishes, from calamansi lime juice and soy sauce to fried garlic, ginger and scallions. Ugh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. What’s even better is most Filipino street food is easy to make.
Ahead, we’ve gathered popular Filipino street food dishes that’ll take you no time at all to whip up, and we’ve left out the more complicated dishes — and those that require ingredients that might prove difficult to find (or straight-up unappetizing), like chicken intestines.
Empanadas aren’t solely popular in Latin America. Filipinos have their own version, too, and it includes a savory filling comprised of white onions, minced garlic, lean pork, carrots, potato, sultanas (a type of grape) and baby peas.
Combine fried shrimp, red chili pepper and chives, fry ’em up, and you have yourself a serving of crunchy shrimp fritters called ukoy. They’re best served with a spiced vinegar dipping sauce.
Tokneneng are hardboiled eggs caked in orange-colored flour batter and deep fried. Dip ’em in a sweet and sour sauce, and you have yourself an easy, protein-packed snack. If you use quail eggs instead, it’s called kwek kwek.
Filipino barbecue chicken
Filipino barbecue chicken is an incredibly popular item served by street vendors. What makes these skewers so special and unique is the meat is seasoned with calamansi juice, soy sauce and lemon-lime soda — all common Filipino ingredients.
More fried balls? Coming right up. This snack right here is called carioca, and unlike the other recipes in this curated list, these balls have zero sea critters. Instead, they’re rice balls lightly brushed with a brown sugar glaze, and they take only 30 minutes to make.
Bananacue is an appropriately named street food snack: They’re fried plantains cooked with brown sugar, and they take just 10 minutes to make.
Clearly, Filipinos love their bananas. Turon is like lumpia, or Filipino egg rolls, but instead of a savory meat-and-veggie stuffing, it’s a banana. Once deep-fried, the rolls are glazed with a sweet, brown sugar mixture. In this case, Foxy Folksy drizzles the rolls with coconut caramel syrup.
Lugaw is rice porridge, and is pretty popular breakfast item or snack. What’s so intoxicating about this dish are the aromatics — garlic, white onions and ginger. Top the dish with chopped chives and squeeze a bit of calamansi, and dig in.
A go-to comfort food for many Filipinos, squid balls are commonly picked up for cheap — think a peso a piece. They’re exactly what they sound like: Balls made of ground fish and deep-fried.
Hands down, the most popular, most iconic Filipino dessert is halo-halo. The multilayered treat is not only visually stunning, but it tastes like no other dessert you’ve ever had. And yes, I say that definitively. Halo-halo has sweet beans, sweet palm fruit, coconut gelatin, shredded coconut, jackfruit, ube, mango ice cream, shaved or crushed ice and crispy rice cereal. A lot of the aforementioned ingredients can be swapped for others, but for the most part, you’ll always find sweet beans, coconut, gelatin and ube.
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