Decoding the Filipino Menu 3: The Pinoy Breakfast

So it’s your first time in the Philippines and you’re browsing the hotel breakfast menu where you might be tempted to order the usual Continental or American breakfast as it is the most familiar. But you know that in order to maximize your stay in a foreign land, you need to imbibe its culture and experience its flavor. So why not start your culinary adventure with a Pinoy breakfast? You won’t regret it.

Photo courtesy of My Twisted Recipes
Coffee or Tsokolate?
A typical Filipino breakfast is always accompanied by either a cup of coffee or hot and thick tsokolate (chocolate) that is made with chocolate tablets (tablea), milk, and sugar.

Photo courtesy of
Pan de sal (bread rolls)
If you’re the bread type, you might want to skip the usual toast and go for the pan de sal which is made of flour, eggs, yeast, and sugar. It can be a bit sweet to eat alone or with butter, cheese, and jam, etc. When you order, insist on being served hot and fresh from the oven. 
Photo courtesy of Pinoy Kitchenette
Champorado (chocolate rice pudding)
Now if you’re the porridge or oatmeal type of breakfast eater, give the champorado a try. Champorado is made with sticky rice boiled with cocoa powder or tablea topped with milk. To make it more Filipino, ask for the salty tuyo (dried herring) for that sweet and salty mix.

Silog (garlic rice meal)
However, nothing beats rice---particularly sinangag (fried garlic rice) as a classic Filipino breakfast.  It is usually served with eggs (sunny side up or salted duck eggs), sliced tomato and your choice of meat. Bundled together, they are called silog. “Si” stands for sinangag (fried garlic rice) and “log” for itlog (eggs) but the word, “silog” is not a complete word in itself as the meat is prefixed to it.

Let’s start with those that are bundled with familiar Western breakfast fare. You can try them first if you want to work your way up to the true-blue Filipino silog dishes later.

Photo courtesy of Busog Sarap

Cornsilog (Corned beef)
Photo courtesy of  Got Halo Halo
Spamsilog or Masilog 
(Luncheon meat that is named after the brand it is using, either Spam or Ma Ling)
Photo courtesy of Got Halo Halo
Photo courtesy of DMarj Marinduque
Now that you have worked up your courage to be more adventurous and Pinoy, try the following favorite staples:
Photo courtesy of Tocino Boys
Tocino are sweet coated pork strips that are fried until they achieve a caramelized look. If you fly the national carrier, Philippine Airlines, you might encounter it on their breakfast menu.

Photo courtesy of Iskandals
Longganisa is fried sausage that can be sweet, salty or garlicky depending on what city or region in the Philippines you are. Traditionally, it is made of pork but there are other varieties such as chicken and fish as well. It can be served with or without skin. (I prefer the skinless.)

Photo courtesy of The Filipino Lifestyle
Tapa is dried cured beef similar to beef jerky. It is fried and dipped in vinegar and often served with achara (pickled green papaya).

Photo courtesy of Iskandals
For some foreigners especially from the west, fried tuyo (dried salted herring) might be too exotic for their taste and smell. I overheard one kid with her father, wondering about eating its head. My plate is usually bereft of everything afterwards. Those who are not used to it might be offended by its pungent smell but to the Pinoy palette, it’s heavenly.

Photo courtesy of Grab Grub
Danggit silog
Danggit is sun-dried salted fish that is split open when served. One Westerner called it, “flat fish.” It is fried and served with vinegar dipping sauce. Like the tuyo, you can eat everything. The best danggit must be crunchy and definitely not rubbery.

Photo courtesy of Busog Sarap
Another split-open “flat fish” is the bangus (marinated milkfish). The soft gel-like belly is the most favorite part. Unlike the other fish meals here, it is not crunchy and you don’t eat everything unless you want fish bones in your throat. As bangus has a lot of thin bones, it may prove to be tedious and difficult to eat. Some restaurants offer boneless bangus though.

As everything on the Filipino breakfast menu is either sweet or salty and often fried, the Pinoy almusal (breakfast) may not be the healthiest but it is sure to be very tasty and satisfying!


Next in the Series: The Pinoy Merienda

1 comment:

  1. They're all mouthwatering meals to start your day...
    indeed, the strong smell of fried tuyo is heavenly to pinoy palate!!!


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