My Top Filipino Fruits

more fun in the Philippines

P.Jenkins 2018 Nov 6

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        As I frequently traveled to and from the Philippines, one thing is certain, fruits are a vegan's best friend. The country produces a plethora of amazing fruits that most foreigners are intimidated to try, but no need to be anxious. We're here to give you some introduction to some of our favorites. Depending on the season, some of these fruits won't be available, however, there are fruit that are available year round.

 Mangoes

        There are essentially three types that I have seen being sold there, the carabao mangoes, the unriped mangoes and the red apple mangoes. If you go during the late spring and through the summer, mangoes are everywhere!

        Depending on where you are visiting in the Philippines, carabao mangoes will most likely be served, as it was at every place I stayed at. My favorite way this was served was either for breakfast or as a shake without milk. This was just heavenly. The fruit itself is very juicy, unlike those in the United States. It's sweet as honey and the texture is a buttery melt-in-your-mouth-kind-of-sensation.

         Unriped mangoes come in various sizes and potency in terms of its sourness. If you're like me, who enjoys eating an entire lemon wedge without making a dent in your face, then you'll love these green delicacies. Most vendors will have a side of  bagoong (fermented shrip paste or fermented anchovy paste), salt or vinegar to dip them in. 

  # 9: Kare-Kare

        Commonly made from ox-tail, but usually substituted with pork or beef, this dish can easily be veganized. Just request that the bagoong (shrimp paste or fish paste) be removed along with the meat. Each region has its unusual take on this curry-like recipe, but if you just request to have vegetables, its most likely going to include bok choy, string beans, garlic, eggplant, onions, pumpkin squash, peanut butter, salt and pepper. 

  # 8: Talong Ensalada

        For you eggplant lovers out there, this is a must try. To veganize this dish, ask them to not put egg or fish sauce. Rather replace it with soy sauce or calamansi (a citrus fruit comparable to lemon or lime). They take roasted eggplants and remove the skin and add purple onions, tomatoes and green onions. This is a sald you won't want to miss.   

  # 7: Ginataang labong

        Basically this dish is made with bamboo shoots infused in coconut milk. Traditionally made with chicken or seafood, it can be easily removed or replaced with tofu. Most common ingredients are garlic, ginger, vinegar, bay leaves, pepper corns, coconut milk, ground pepper, green chili and soy sauce. It's fantastic on those nice cool nights. 

  # 6: Sinigang

        Depending on the restaurant and location, traditional sinigang is made from either fish, pork, beef or chicken. However, this isn't difficult to make vegan upon request. So what is sinigang? It is a hot sour soup traditionally made with tamarind (to be honest it's like a large pea pod, but resembles poop droppings with seeds inside, but extremely sour. hahha. take that visual in) or can be replaced using guava or santol to get the sour flavor. Regardless, how that is accomplished, it is soothing and comforting. The vegetables common to this dish are taro, eggplant, onions, tomatoes, kang-kong, string beans, banana peppers (for you spicy lovers), okra, and other seasonal vegetables. 

  # 5: Chop suey

        When we joined the various tours in the Philippines, we made sure to tell them that we were vegan. And this was prepared at every event for us. Make sure to request no butter or egg. Then, ask if they have calamansi (a type of lemon about the size of a grape), so you can squeeze it over the top for a little zesty finish. This dish is pretty simple, containing cabbage, onions carrots, and other season vegetables. 

  # 4: Kangkong

        This isn't really considered a main dish per say, but it is great to have with either fried rice or plain rice. This is already vegan at least from my understanding as it contains no other ingredients. Although it's known as "water spinach", mind you it tastes nothing like traditional Western spinach. It's much crunchier due to the stems and depending on how it is prepared and seasoned it picks up flavors easily. Making this dish isn't rocket science, it's basically kangkong, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and water. You can never go wrong with this dish. This is perfect especially when you need some greens. 

  # 3: Pancit Canton (thick noodles) / Pancit Bihon (thin noodles)

        Almost every restaurant we went to, made their pancit fresh and was able to make this vegan for us. The most popular and common version is chicken and seafood pancit. The word 'canton' refers to the thicker yellowish Chinese style noodles frequently used in chow mein, unlike 'bihon' which are glassy and very thin. It's commonly flavored with soy sauce and calamansi. The ingredients commonly used are carrots, cabbage, onion, green onions, chives and noodles. 

  # 2: Pinakbet

        Originally made from pork, this dish can be veganized. Depending on where you are in the Philippines, you can easily order this without  pork and bagoong. This dish is like a vegetable stew, depending on the season, vegetation and region, it may contain okra, string beans, eggplant, pumpkin squash, bitter melons, tomatoes, bok choy and any other local ingredients. It is commonly flavored with soy sauce or salt. 

  # 1: Adobo Sitaw

        For the animal activist in us, this is one that won't ruffle our feathers. Chicken adobo is probably the number one most common Filipino dishes world wide, but this one is often overlooked. Sitaw is basically long string beans that are cut into small lengths and sauteed into a flavor mix of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and oil. It's amazing especially when topped over rice.  

Well I sure hope you enjoyed my recommended dishes  in the Philippines. I sure hope you enjoy this beautiful country as much as I have. And if you haven't gone and explored it yet, GO! Remember it's more fun in the Philippines! Mabuhay!  

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