Interested in cooking Filipino food? There are a few items you should add to your Filipino grocery list that are common pantry staples. As a Filipino-American family, we've put together this guide on How to Stock a Filipino Pantry with some of the most popular ingredients used in Filipino recipes.
Growing up in a Filipino-American household in the United States, ingredients for our family's Filipino cooking weren't always so easy to find. And, there weren't as many asian markets as there are now. Heck, there wasn't a single Filipino restaurant in town growing up -- and now there are several!
Over the years, Asian ingredients and Filipino food have become more popular in mainstream America, which has made my heart so happy!
I love sharing my family's culture and heritage with all of you through our food. Recently, you may have seen me and my family cooking Filipino food on the TV show Family Dinner with Andrew Zimmern. (If you missed it, you can stream it on HBO Max and Disney+!).
I know that sometimes trying new recipes with unknown ingredients can be intimidating. So I've developed this guide on How to Stock your Filipino Pantry to help take the guess work out of cooking Filipino recipes.
Traditional recipes for the modern kitchen
My cookbook, Modern Filipino Cooking, is a love letter to all of the generations of Filipino cooks and people of Filipino descent before me.
My recipes are traditional recipes from our family's home cooking, given a modern spin. Many recipes were handed down from my Lolas (grandmother & great-grandmother) and Nanay (mother); all have been given a fresh spin. I've taken these authentic Filipino recipes and updated them for the modern American kitchen.
The goal is to make Filipino food easy and accessible for everyone to make in your own kitchen. And I hope that this list of common ingredients found in Filipino cooking will help you as you cook some of these recipes.
You can find all of these ingredients in my online Filipino pantry shop!
Where to buy Filipino ingredients
Many ingredients used in Filipino cooking can be easily found now in most mainstream grocery stores. However, there are still a few Filipino ingredients that you may need to purchase from your local Asian grocery stores or market.
If you have trouble finding any of these Filipino pantry staples, you can also find them online. I've got an online shop where you can find all of these ingredients!
Common Filipino Ingredients
Here are some top Filipino ingredients to add to your Filipino grocery list. These are essential ingredients to Filipino cuisine. You'll also find substitution suggestions for each ingredient, as well as some .
Annatto - also known as atsuete or atsuwete in the Philippines - is often used to add color to dishes. It has a subtle earthy flavor, and can be substituted with paprika or turmeric.
Use to add depth to Ground Pork Menudo or Beef Mechado to add color.
A thick, fermented seafood paste usually made with fish or shrimp, Bagoong is used in many Filipino dishes, such as Kare Kare, an oxtail fish stew.
Substitution: soy bean paste, miso paste, or anchovy paste.
Filipino Banana Ketchup is a sweet and tangy sauce made from bananas and spices. It can be used as a condiment for fried foods, but also in savory Filipino foods like our Copycat Jolibee Filipino Spaghetti.
Substitution: regular ketchup or a mixture of ketchup and sugar.
Bay leaves are commonly used Filipino cooking. They add a subtle herbal flavor to stews and soups, and are a key ingredient in Instant Pot Chicken Adobo and Beef Caldereta.
Substitution: thyme or oregano.
Calamansi is a small citrus fruit found in the Philippines. And Calamansi juice is often used in marinades and as a condiment. It's what makes Filipino Pork BBQ Skewers so delicious!
Substitution: lime or lemon juice.
Filipino cane vinegar, also known as sukang iloko, is a type of vinegar made from sugarcane juice. It has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor and is commonly used in Filipino cuisine, such as adobo, sisig, and kinilaw. Cane vinegar is often preferred over other types of vinegar because of its mild flavor and versatility in cooking.
Substitution: coconut vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar.
Coconut Milk is often used in stews, curries, and desserts. it provides a creamy and sweet flavor in savory Filipino food like Shrimp Adobo in Coconut Milk.
Substitution: heavy cream or evaporated milk.
Fish Sauce is another staple ingredient in Filipino cooking. It provides a salty and savory flavor in dishes like Almondigas (meatball and noodle soup) and Ground Pork Menudo..
Substitution: soy sauce.
Garlic is a staple ingredient in Filipino cuisine, it adds flavor and aroma to many dishes. You'll find it in most savory recipes on Urban Bliss Life! Try our Instant Pot Garlic Rice and Instant Pot Chicken Adobo.
Substitution: minced onion or shallots.
Ginger is a root with a slightly spicy and pungent flavor, it is often used in marinades and soups. Try it in Crab Pancit.
Substitution: ground ginger or galangal.
Onions are another common ingredient used in the majority of Filipino recipes. Most of my recipes use yellow onions, which add depth and sweetness to dishes like Beef Caldereta
Substitution: shallots or leeks.
Oyster sauce is a dark, thick, and savory sauce that is commonly used in Filipino cuisine. We use it in our Pancit Canton recipe and Pancit Bihon recipe.
Soy Sauce is a key ingredient in many Filipino dishes. It adds a savory and salty flavor to dishes like Filipino Pork BBQ and Shrimp Adobo in Coconut Milk.
Substitution: tamari or fish sauce.
Tamarind paste is often used in soups and stews. It provides a tangy and sour flavor in Filipino Sinigang, and in Pad Thai.
Substitution: lime or lemon juice combined with white vinegar and brown sugar; balsamic vinegar; soy sauce or coconut aminos.
Ube, also known as purple yam, is a staple ingredient in Filipino cuisine that is often used in desserts. It has a vibrant purple color and a sweet, nutty flavor. We use ube jam (ube halaya) in our Ube White Chocolate Chip Cookies and Ube Donuts.
Substitution: purple sweet potato or purple food coloring (to mimic the color)
More Filipino ingredients
- Lemongrass - a herb with a citrusy and fragrant flavor, it is often used in soups and stews. It can be substituted with lemon zest or lemon balm.
- Pork belly - a cut of pork that is often used in many Filipino dishes, it has a rich and fatty flavor. It can be substituted with bacon or pork shoulder.
- Tocino - a sweet cured pork often served for breakfast, it can be substituted with beef or chicken tocino.
More Filipino recipes
Ready to start cooking and baking with these common Filipino ingredients? Now that you've got your Filipino grocery list, check out our entire Filipino recipe collection. Or start with one of these easy Filipino recipes:
Did you make any of these recipes? Don't forget to leave a 5-Star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating and comment below letting us know which one you made and how it turned out. Thank you!
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