By Maria Aranza Peralta
Millennials may be hooked with the latest gadgets and trends; but for them, the tradition of family bonding over sumptuous feast remains alive when it comes to celebrating the holidays.
Manila Bulletin conducted an online survey to Filipino millennials to determine their holiday food top picks for noche buena and media noche.
Here are their top 10 choices:
This tomato-based stew is one of Filipinos’ favorite comfort food. It’s an everyday dish that plays a part of the traditional holiday dinner. Menudo is cooked in tomato paste, tomato sauce or both and consists of cubed pork belly, pork liver, carrots and potatoes, with raisins and hotdog slices occasionally included.
9. Leche Flan
The ultimate Filipino dessert made with eggs and milk, leche flan is topped with soft caramel and usually drizzled with sweet syrup. While leche flan figures as a sweet topping for halo-halo every summer, it is a standalone treat for people with sweet tooth during the holidays.
8. Queso de Bola
A favorite staple during noche buena and media noche, the ball-shaped Edam cheese coated in red wax is typically served with Christmas ham and pan de sal. While queso de bola (literally “ball cheese”) was brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards, it actually originated in the Netherlands.
Mostly associated with street food, Filipino barbecue—skewered cuts of pork but can also be beef and chicken parts—is also a sought-after dish during the holidays. The meat cuts are sweetened by a marinade out of soy sauce, garlic, onion, calamansi and soda before being skewered on bamboo sticks and grilled over coal. This all-around dish can be an appetizer, main course or even snack without condiments.
No noche buena or media noche will be complete without lechon, the roasted pig or cow also served in various Filipino feasts. Filipino lechon’s claim to fame is its succulent meat under its crunchy skin, with its biggest fan no less than American chef-TV personality Anthony Bourdain. But it’s a no-no for hypertensives. Leftover lechon parts can be cooked again as “lechon paksiw.”
5. Fried Chicken
The young and young at heart look for fried chicken on every occasion, the holidays included. Drumstick, breast, wings, with or without skin, breaded or marinated, deep-fried or pan-fried, fried chicken seems to be a constant in every feast and party in the country. It’s easy to cook and very handy.
The white-sauce alternative to spaghetti, Filipino aficionados of Italian cuisine have developed a taste for this creamy pasta dish. The sauce is milk, cream, eggs, salt and pepper. Bits of ham, bacon, herbs and mushroom are typically added.
3. Christmas Ham
Christmas ham has earned the famed moniker “star of the noche buena” as well as media noche as it is primarily served during the holidays. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and can be prepared in various ways. Hams or hamon can also be boxed as gifts to loved ones, living up to the essence of the holidays being a season of gift-giving.
2. Fruit Salad
Fruit salad is also highly sought after during the holidays, combining healthy heaps of fruits and dairy. Fruits like apple, mango, pineapple, banana, orange, kiwi, strawberry and cherry are mixed with evaporated milk, condensed milk, cream (some can dispense with this) and sugar.
The ultimate favorite pasta dish, spaghetti figures ubiquitously in various celebrations—Christmas, New Year, birthdays, graduation, anniversaries, etc. This red sauce dish is served either the Italian way (with the strong taste of tomatoes) or in typically sweet Filipino style (served with ground pork and, usually, hotdogs). Some Filipinos have also experimented with other meats or ingredients to go with spaghetti. But no matter: for superstitious Filipinos, spaghetti is a must as the long noodle strands signify long life.