Food History: Origin of popular Filipino food names

Sherry Tadeja
PUBLISHED April 20, 2017 09:43 pm | UPDATED April 21, 2017 09:49 am
Photo from Inside Scoop San Francisco

(Inside Manila) Filipinos’ fascination with food is inevitable. Pinoys can even come up with various ways, as many as the islands in the Philippines, to prepare a popular Filipino food. Other than knowing how to make these dishes, it's also fun to know why they're dubbed that way. Inside Manila found four certainly popular Pinoy dishes and fascinating facts of its name etymology.


The Adobo is currently the Philippines’ national food. The dish involves meat and/or vegetable marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and garlic and simmered to cook.

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The history to its popular name came from a Spanish word "Adobar" which means to marinade in sauce or seasoning. When Spaniards saw how the indigenous prepare the dish, they dubbed it Adobo and became known ever since.


This sour soup dish is in rivalry with Adobo for the national dish. As of now, no concrete fact is present pointing where Sinigang originated. However, some said that sinigang may have been derived from a Malaysian dish that even spells near of Sinigang.

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The tamarind soup dish is called 'Singgang' known in Terengganu, Malaysia which is rich in fishing villages that may have developed the dish into various ways--Ikan (fish,) Udang (shrimp,) Ayam (chicken,) and Daging (beef) Singgang.


Another inherited dish made popular in the Philippines are springrolls or Lumpia. Lumpia are consist of chopped vegetables like carrots, onions, and sometimes with either pork, meat or beef. The dish originated from China and Indonesia.

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The Lumpia name is derived from a Chinese term "Lunpia" which is also an alternate term of dish "popiah" which has close similiarities to this popular Filipino dish.


A stew dish commonly imposed with thick savory peanut sauce the dish is also popularly incorporated with vegetables, traditionally Kare-Kare is commonly seen in Filipino celebrations.

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Kare-kare's name is from the brief British Occupation in the country. Sepoy (Indian soldiers) that settled in the Philippines felt homesick and improvised the dish with the available ingredients around. It evolved from it kari-kaari, curry and to present name, kare-kare.




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