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 .
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 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.
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.
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!