When Americans think of Filipino food, we immediately conjure up images of spicy cuisine and fishballs. While these are indeed part of Filipino culinary culture, the reality is that Filipino food isn’t too bad — when you factor in the local spices and herbs that make it unique. Unfortunately, this good-for-you image is often overshadowed by American perceptions of the cuisine as “bland” and “papilla,” two derogatory terms used to describe Filipino food. Even though we may not want to admit it, many Americans have become desensitized to traditional Filipino dishes because of how frequently they’re served in American restaurants and in restaurant buffets.
Why is Filipino food so bad?
The notion that Filipino food is bad often comes from a lack of familiarity and knowledge about Filipino cuisine. On the contrary, if you know what to look for in traditional Filipino dishes, you’ll find these dishes are not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious.
10 Reasons Why Is Filipino Food So Bad?
1. Poor Quality Ingredients
Many Filipino dishes are made with poor-quality ingredients, such as meat that is not fresh and vegetables that have been grown in overcrowded conditions. This means that the flavors and textures of Filipino food can be lacking compared to other cuisines.
2. Lack Of Cooking Skills
Filipino cuisine relies heavily on deep-frying, which can make the food greasy and unhealthy. Additionally, many Filipino cooks lack the knowledge of more complex cooking techniques that can bring out more flavor from their dishes.
3. Too Much sugar
Sugary sauces are used too often in Filipino cooking, making the food overly sweet and giving it a heavy texture. This is especially true in popular dishes like pancit and bistek.
4. Over-reliance On Staples
Rice is a staple food in the Philippines, which often leads to meals that are heavy on carbohydrates and light on protein or other essential nutrients. This can make Filipino food unappetizing and unhealthy.
5. Limited Variety
Filipino cuisine has a limited variety of dishes, with the same flavors and ingredients being used over and over again. This can make eating Filipino food repetitive and boring for many people.
6. Unhealthy Cooking Methods
As mentioned above, deep-frying is an often-used cooking method in Filipino cuisine that can make the food greasy and unhealthy. Other common methods, such as boiling or simmering, can cause the food to lose flavor and nutrients, making it unappetizing.
7. Lack of Spice
Filipino dishes tend to be on the mild side in terms of spice, which can make them bland for many people who are used to spicier cuisines.
8. Too Much MSG
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is often used in Filipino cooking to enhance flavor. However, this can be unhealthy and make the food overly salty.
9. Poor Preservation Techniques
Many Filipino dishes are served cold or at room temperature, which can cause the food to spoil quickly.
10. Unfamiliarity With the Cuisine
Many people who are unfamiliar with Filipino food may find it unappetizing due to its unique flavors and textures. This can make it difficult for people to appreciate the cuisine.
How To Eat Filipino Food Healthier?
1. Choose healthier cooking methods.
Filipino dishes are known for their rich flavors and generous amounts of oil and fat, but you can make them healthier by using less oil or reducing the amount of time you cook it for. Try steaming, grilling, broiling, or stir-frying your food instead of deep frying. This will help reduce the amount of oil and fat in your meals.
2. Stick to leaner proteins.
When choosing proteins for your Filipino dishes, go for leaner options like fish, shellfish, skinless chicken or turkey breast, pork tenderloin, and ground beef that is 90% lean or higher. These options are lower in unhealthy saturated fat compared to red meats and processed meats.
3. Choose whole grains instead of white rice.
White rice is a staple in Filipino cuisine, but you can switch it up with healthier options like brown or red rice, quinoa, or bulgur wheat. These are all packed with more fiber and vitamins that your body needs.
4. Go easy on the sauces and condiments.
Filipino food is full of flavorful sauces and condiments like oyster sauce, patis (fish sauce), suka (vinegar), coconut milk, or even banana ketchup. It’s okay to use these every once in a while but remember that they are high in sodium and added sugars. Whenever possible, try to go for lower-sodium alternatives.
5. Don’t forget the vegetables!
The flavors of Filipino cuisine can be so bold and intense that it’s easy to overlook adding some veggies to your meal. Add a side of steamed or stir-fried veggies like bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, or bell peppers to make sure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamins and minerals.
6. Skip the desserts and opt for fresh fruits instead.
Filipino desserts can be very sweet and delicious, but they are usually high in sugar and calories. Opt for healthier options like sliced apples or oranges to satisfy your sweet tooth without overdoing it on the sugar. Fruits are also packed with vitamins and antioxidants that help keep your body healthy.
7. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Water is essential for staying hydrated and helping your body flush out toxins. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses a day to stay healthy and energized. It’s also important to be aware of how much sodium you are consuming, as this can lead to dehydration.
8. Exercise regularly.
Eating healthier is just one part of staying healthy. Regular exercise and physical activity are also essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, and find activities that you enjoy doing so it’s easier to stick with them in the long run.
9. Eat in moderation.
Filipinos are known for their generous servings of food, but try to practice mindful eating and only eat until you’re full. Eating too much can lead to weight gain and other health issues such as diabetes or heart disease. And remember to take your time when you eat; this will help you recognize when you’re full sooner.
10. Pay attention to food labels.
It’s always important to read the ingredients label on any packaged or processed foods that you buy. This will allow you to make more informed decisions about the food that you’re eating and help keep track of the amount of sugar, sodium, fat, and other nutrients that are in your food.
Tips For Eating Authentic Filipino Food In The U.S.
1. Follow a traditional Filipino meal plan.
A traditional Filipino meal plan is a great way to make sure you’re eating all the right foods and getting the right amount of nutrients. It’s also a great way to get creative and try new dishes that you may not have tried before.
2. Stock up on staple Filipino ingredients.
Some of the most common Filipino ingredients that you’ll likely find in American supermarkets include rice, noodles, canned goods, and vegetable oils. Make sure you have these items on hand so that you can easily create authentic Filipino dishes at home.
3. Try out different recipes online.
There are a lot of great online recipes for authentic Filipino food that you can try out at home. This will give you a good idea of what types of dishes work well together and which ones you might want to tweak or change to make them more your own.
4. Ask your family and friends for recommendations.
If all else fails, ask your family and friends for recommendations for the best authentic Filipino food in the U.S. They’re likely to have tried a few different places and know which ones are worth your time and money.
Over the years, Filipino food has been maligned as “Napoli,” “boring,” and “boring-out,” terms used to describe the blandness and repetitive nature of traditional Filipino dishes. In reality, Filipino food is neither bland nor repetitive. It just happens to be seasoned with spices and seasoned with fish and pork. If you want to experience authentic Filipino food, go to a restaurant. If you’d rather make it at home, you can find plenty of recipes online. And don’t forget to order mild foods.