Tin's Favorite Filipino Food (as you can tell, I am manic and hungry):
1. Ginisang munggo (Sauteed mung beans)
I cannot tell you how much I love munggo. I ate this for weeks when I was living in a dormitory (I was also saving money because I blew off my allowance on something I can't remember right now and a dish of munggo only cost ten pesos back then.) Whenever I see a local food stall, I buy munggo. I have foregone numerous lunch menus once I learn that munggo is being served. Here's a pretty good recipe. My mother cooks it with both pork and shrimp. Other people add misua noodles, which version I also eat, but it could do without, though you might want to sort of spice it with ampalaya (or Chinese bitter gourd). My brother's Thai-Filipino friend who runs a restaurant with his mother has his own special riff on the dish. I should ask for the recipe. It's really good. With chili, yet.
2. Sinigang na hipon (Shrimp in sour broth)
To explain 'sinigang' and what it means to Filipino culture would take like a book, and then some. In fact, there should be an entire school of culinary theory devoted to 'sinigang.' Sinigang is less an actual dish than a template for several different kinds of dishes. While the basic ingredients remain the same, taste should vary depending on whether you are cooking sinigang na baka (beef) or sinigang na baboy (pork -- a perennial favorite for Sunday family lunches though I myself don't eat pork) or sinigang na bangus (milkfish) or ulo ng maya-maya (fish head, very tasty). A succinct recipe for sinigang na hipon; Mang Ken has a nice tasty picture of the final product.
3. Adobong manok at baboy (Chicken and pork adobo)
Adobo is another methodology of (national) cooking, this time based on soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and garlic. Historians agree that it's derived from a long-disappeared recipe which in turn was probably imported from Spanish Mexico during the heyday of the Acapulco galleon trade (though it could always have been introduced by Spanish clerics? I don't know, what are the records...) Anyway, whatever the original recipe might have been, it's been warped to suit Filipino taste, with a considerable number of regional hybrids (there's even a so-called American version... introduced in Ilocos. Jeez).
I don't know if it's exclusive to the Tagalog area, but I usually eat the atsuete (or achote) version, which is my grandmother's best dish. Instead of being cooked in soy sauce, the chicken and pork pieces are first stewed and then fried in atsuete (and vinegar). The resulting dish is therefore considerably 'drier' (is there a more exact culinary term? sorry, I'm not a cook) than the adobo with soy sauce (my brother for one likes his adobo with lots of extra sauce). I also like adobo flakes -- the pork and/or chicken being shredded to pieces and then cooked in whichever way you like to cook your adobo -- which go best with garlic rice and salted egg. Recipes. (Anyone here ever tasted the milk adobo? I've seen one, clamshell adobo, it was really weird.)
This is another excellent vegetable dish, originating from Northern Luzon (cue stereotypical in-jokes about the famed Ilocano frugality). Piece de resistance is the addition of bagoong or fish paste (so the dish itself smells... unique. I think that bagoong is a pretty popular item in Asian food markets abroad, though, so). Ingredients: eggplant, ampalaya, long beans, squash, onions, sliced tomatoes, chopped garlic. It's fairly easy to cook -- recipe. Served best with rice, naturally. (Ajinomoto has this really wacky macaroni a la pakbet recipe omg. Seriously, those people).
5. Kare Kare
Kare-kare (pronounce it very fast, accent on the second syllable) is a stew of ox tail or tripe. I do not remember ever eating either tail or tripe, though of course it's the integral part of the dish. Because I am a philistine I just subsist happily on the sauce, which is traditionally made with ground peanuts (peanut butter is commonly substituted since grounding peanuts takes time -- but it is worth the effort) and rice flour. My mother cooks the vegetables separately, and the finished product is served with bagoong alamang (a variation of the usual fish paste; bagoong alamang includes shrimp fingerlings): picture c/o Mang Ken, as always, though I will not recommend using Mama Sita's Kare Kare Mix. It's a bad place.
I think this is a pretty accurate recipe.
Nilagang baka (In unromantic English: Boiled beef with vegetables). Though I don't remember ever eating it with carrots. I recommend using sweet potatoes and potatoes instead. My mother sometimes includes rice within the dish when she uses fish (either dalag or hito) instead of meat.
Tinolang Manok (Filipino ginger chicken stew with papaya). Often touted as 'uniquely' Filipino. Some people prefer to use chicken neck and legs exclusively for this because the taste is much better (though I think there's some vague historical/aesthetic category being invoked here).