Each region in the Philippines has local dishes that they can call their own. Like many others, Cebu has a fair share of Filipino delicacies and meals that are familiar to both locals and tourists. Foreigners also come visit Cebu as their destination of choice for a vacation, or for a business trip.
20 local dishes you should give a try when you’re in Cebu
Also, a lot of Filipinos are either living overseas today, or at least away from home, and there are times when they are longing to have a taste of any local dishes again, as they are not available abroad. Here are 20 local dishes you should give a try when you’re in Cebu so you would have a taste of Cebuano home cooking, and for balikbayans to reminisce the memories of good comfort food while they are away:
1) Inun-unan (Fish stew in vinegar). Inun-unan is a fish recipe that involves fish and vinegar along with some vegetables and spices.
2) Bam-I. Pancit Bisaya, also known as Bam-I, is a noodle dish that originated in Cebu. It is a combination of Pancit canton and sotanghon noodles.
3) Danggit. Cebu is known for its danggit (“dang-git”)—salted, sun-dried rabbitfish (a.k.a. spine foot), which is abundant and native to the island’s shallower waters.
4) Humba. Humba is a Visayan braised pork dish similar to the classic adobo. Pork belly, pork hocks, and pork ham are the 3 most common pig parts used to make this dish. Boiled eggs make this dish extra special.
5) Kinilaw (Filipino-style ceviche). Kinilaw is a Filipino fish ceviche wherein fish fillet is cut into cubes and cured in a mixture of calamansi juice, fresh ginger, onion, chili, and seasonings.
6) Lechon Cebu. It is a traditional dish prepared for special events or fiestas such as holidays, parties, and festivals. It is best enjoyed with the whole family.
7) Munggos. Munggos or Monggo are sauteed mung beans. It is a staple in homes, roadside eateries, and local restaurants alike. It’s simple fare, but nutritious and filling.
8) Chinese Ngohiong. Ngohiong is the Cebuano version of the deep-fried Chinese spring roll filled with singkamas (jicama), ubod (coconut palm heart), minced pork, minced shrimps, garlic, and onions.
9) Sinugba. In Cebu, sugba or sinugba refers to nearly any food that’s cooked on a grill over charcoal. It is always accompanied by a dipping sauce composed of soy sauce, vinegar, chopped onions, red chili, and calamansi.
10) Utan Bisaya. Utan Bisaya is a simple Cebuano soup dish composed of different kinds of boiled vegetables.
11) Tuwa. Tuwa or Tinola is a quick and easy Filipino stew dish. Stewed in ginger, lemongrass, tomatoes, bell pepper, and malunggay leaves. This recipe is not only easy to make but also affordable and delicious.
12) Paklay. Paklay is popular Visayan stew consist of pig and cow innards, bamboo shoots, red bell pepper, green chili, and other aromatics.
13) Cebu Pochero. Cebu-style bulalo, or Visayan pochero, is a light and fragrant beef stew with corn and bok choy.
14) Balbacua. Balbacua, also spelled Balbakwa, is a beef stew made from beef, collagen-rich beef parts (oxtail, skin, and joints), and various spices cooked for several hours until very tender.
15) Escabeche. Escabeche is a dish that is typically made from fish or meat that is marinated and/or cooked in vinegar and some spices.
16) Siomai sa Tisa. It is a Pinoy-style siomai steamed pork dumplings (shumai). The popular kind of siomai is from Tisa, a barangay in the city of Cebu.
17) Sikwate. Sikwate is the local hot chocolate drink. The tableya1 are boiled with water in a special jug, and then frothed using a batirol, a wooden instrument that’s rolled between the hands to release the cocoa butter (and produce froth).
18) Budbud Pilit. Budbud is usually a rice cake snack or dessert wrapped in banana leaves, while pilit, which means “to stick,” refers to the variety of glutinous/sticky rice.
19) Biko. It is a native Filipino rice cake delicacy or ‘kakanin’ where glutinous rice is cooked with coconut milk and brown sugar.
20) Binignit. Binignit is a type of rice gruel popular in the Visayan region. It’s served either hot or cold and enjoyed as a dessert or midday snack.
BONUS: Pusô. Pusô is rice wrapped and boiled in a triangular casing made of woven coconut leaves. It is also called hanging rice, as the packets are often picturesquely hung in bunches using the long ends of the leaves It is very common in Cebu.
Of course, don’t forget to add a cold glass of Mango shake (ripe or green) to clean your palate in between servings, or a bottle of ice-cold soft drinks especially when the weather is hot during summertime.
Many people would find these local dishes very tempting to try out. People who are planning to visit Cebu should ask their hosts to let them experience some of these dishes. There are many local restaurants and hotels in Cebu that can offer you some of these local specialties, but have these cooked at home is a more fulfilling meal to taste and learn how Cebuano lolas and moms prepare these dishes for you. We are sure that when they come here, Cebuanos would want to introduce these local dishes to visitors and tourists when they are in Cebu.