Filipinos are known to celebrate the longest Christmas season. It’s a tradition met with zest, positivity and of course, food. For a country who equates every festivity with mouth-watering food, Christmas is the time of the year when food is more special, and often, says something about the family’s customs and traditions. The best meal in Christmas is reserved for Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve, and everyone in the family looks forward to it. Being invited to someone else’s Noche Buena is a tremendous honor, and tourists visiting the county this Yuletide season look forward to not just the warm smiles of their Filipino friends, but also the smorgasbord of classic traditional favorites nicely made for an appetizing feast. So, to answer what’s for Noche Buena? A lot! Here’s some of these common Noche Buena dishes!
1. Queso de Bola
Bring out the bottle of Pinot Noir and pair it with the Pinoy’s take on Edam cheese of Netherlands. Queso de Bola is a regular fixture on the Christmas table and Pinoys usually eat this salty, soft and creamy cheese with ham or crackers.
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The most anticipated dish on the Christmas table is the tasty, drool-worthy lechon. This roasted pig usually occupies the middle portion of the table — its reddish, brown skin glistening with oil, taking gastronomical satisfaction to the highest level!
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3. Rellenong Bangus (Stuffed Milkfish)
One of Philippines’ most popular dishes, rellenong bangus is usually served during special occasions because of the large amount of work involved in preparing this delicacy. The milkfish is deboned, flaked and mixed with vegetables, spices and ground pork, then re-stuffed inside the fish and cooked either by baking or frying. And don’t find it weird if Pinoy serve it with ketchup!
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4. Sweet-style Spaghetti
One of Pinoy’s most loved pasta dishes, the sweet-style spaghetti is ever present in every Juan’s celebrations like birthdays and fiestas. Very different from Italian spaghetti, the Pinoy version is on the sweet side with a generous mix of hotdogs and ground meat.
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5. Pork Menudo (Pork Stew)
Always a favorite of young and old alike, pork menudo also makes it to PInoy’s top choices for Christmas food. For ordinary Pinoys, no party is complete without this saucy Filipino stew made with tender pork cubes, raisins, carrots, potatoes, pork liver, quail eggs, green peas, tomato sauce and spices (some add hotdogs and chickpeas to this hearty dish). This dish not only makes its’ appearance on Noche Buena, you might see it in Media Noche as well (New Year’s Eve)!
Photo credits: @quic_k_chef via IG
6. Christmas Ham
Another star of the Philippines’ holiday season is the sweet ham, often paired with quezo de bola or or kesong puti. There are various kinds of ham, but locals usually go for the sweet style honey-glazed ham that is good to eat on its own.
Photo credits: @lakwatserazlulu via IG
7. Leche Flan
An original French dessert, made to fit Pinoys’ taste preference, leche flan is the sweet, melt-in-your-mouth dessert made of egg yolks and milk, layered with thick caramel sauce. It’s an all-time dessert that has huge following in big and small gatherings. Sinfully good, even dieters can’t resist to take a spoonful of this rich and delectable treat.
Photo credits: @eae_bakegoods via IG
We hope you have a grand time celebrating this festive season with your loved ones. More than the motley of food on our table and gifts under the Christmas tree, may this season brings us contentment and gratitude for all the things in our life.