Did you hear? Filipino food is all the rage — and has been a growing culinary trend for years. According to Bloomberg, Google searches for "Filipino food" have doubled since 2012, and searches for "lumpia near me" skyrocketed over 3,000 percent. Clearly, Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern knew what he was talking about when he predicted five years ago that Filipino cuisine would become the "next big thing."
While plenty of Filipino restaurants have popped up, largely in Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C., the question still remains: What exactly is Filipino food?
It's a fair question considering the cuisine is complex in taste and heavily influenced by Spanish, Indian, Taiwanese, Chinese, Western and Japanese flavors. Case in point: Arguably the most popular Filipino dish, chicken adobo, is actually Mexican in origin. But virtually all Filipino dishes do have one thing in common: They all burst with flavor — and it's all thanks to the wide assortment and generous usage of spices and herbs.
It's true: You can spot — and taste — an authentic Filipino dish by its usage of garlic and onions, ginger, bagoong (fermented seafood paste), bay and pandan leaves and lemongrass, to name a few. Oh, and let's not forget the calamansi limes! The juice from these limes is used extensively in Filipino cuisine, from adding it to marinades and sauces to squirting it onto pancit noodles (another popular Filipino dish) as the final touch.
Now that we've given a bit of background on what makes Filipino so unique and so flavorful — and touched on a couple of popular Filipino dishes — let's dig even deeper. Here are the Filipino dishes everyone should know about — and try for themselves.