16 Things to Buy at a Filipino Market

Walking the lanes of a grocery store can be its own form of travel, especially when you’re in a grocery store with foods from outside your culture. But there is always the looming question of what to buy. I reached out to my friend Jeanelle Castro, who was born in the Philippines, to share with us her top picks of items to buy and, most importantly, how to use them.


1. Corned beef

“If I had to have you try [a] canned item from a Filipino store, it would be a good brand of corned beef. My family’s favorite brand is Delimondo corned beef.” – Jeanelle

What to make with it: Corned Beef Silog

2. Spam

“You’ll see a lot of canned goods in a Filipino grocery store, and that’s a product of American troops coming into the Philippine islands during the wars.” – Jeanelle

3. Sardines in Tomato Sauce

“I could eat that all day.” – Jeanelle

4. Vinegars

“I think the vinegars in a Filipino store are super underrated. You can get vinegars that are made from coconut, sugarcane, spiced with chilies, and so much more. If you add it to your dishes and let it stew a little bit, it makes your dishes pop.” – Jeanelle

5. Bagoong

“It’s a sautéed shrimp paste. You can use this to dip or you can use it also to flavor your dishes.” – Jeanelle

What to make with it: Manggang Hilaw at Bagoong Mangos

6. Mang Tomas

“It’s kind of like that gem that a lot of Filipinos use, but I feel like isn’t as talked about outside of the community. You can have it at room temperature or I like heating it up, and then you can dip fried pork, fried chicken, you can add it on your rice, and it just makes it taste so good.” – Jeanelle

7. Pancit Bihon

“The most popular [noodle] is called pancit bihon, and you use that to make Filipino pancit, the most popular type of noodle dish that you’ll probably hear about.” – Jeanelle

What to make with it: Pancit Behon

8. Halo-Halo Toppings

“If you are in the canned food section in a Filipino grocery store, there’s a whole array of ingredients that you can use for a dessert called Halo-Halo. Halo-Halo is a sweet shaved ice dessert from the Philippines, and you can add in sweet beans, jellies, and fruits.” – Jeanelle

What to make with it: Halo-Halo

9. Sinigang Mix

“Look for this packet of dry seasoning called sinigang mix. A sinigang mix is a really fast way to make sinigang, which is a sour soup from the Philippines. It’s my favorite soup.” – Jeanelle

Make it at home: Quick Sinigang

10. Sweet Corn

“Sweet Corn kind of looks like little cheese ball puffs, but instead of cheese, they’re flavored with sweet corn. It’s so good.” – Jeanelle

11. Boy Bawang

“Boy Bawang is kind of like corn nuts, but they’re smaller and they’re easier to chew. I think they’re crunchier and I also think they taste a lot better.” – Jeanelle

12. Clover Chips

“Clover Chips are interesting, because they’re kind of soft, yet crunchy at the same time, and they also have all these other flavors, but you can start off with a cheese flavor.” – Jeanelle

13. Kutsinta

“Grab some kitsinta, which kind of look like little brown patties made with tapioca flour. It’s chewy. If you put some freshly grated coconut and sugar on top, oh my gosh! I ate that for breakfast when I was a kid. ” – Jeanelle

Make it at home: Kutsinta

14. Bibingka

“And bibingka is a pretty popular rice cake. It’s typically served during the holidays, but you can get it year round. I like it because it’s a little bit sweet and salty. The best ones have a slice of salted egg on top. Those are the best.” – Jeanelle

Make it at home: Bibingka

15. Calamansi Juice

“Calamansi is a tiny citrus fruit and it’s got some floral notes to it. It smells really good. It’s very refreshing and it’s so good if you mix it in with some cold water and some honey. We use this like you would lemon.” – Jeanelle

16. Pre-Marinated Meats

“Grab some frozen pre-marinated meats like chicken or pork tocino. They’re marinated a little more on the sweeter side, and you can just cook them on a pan with a little bit of water until it caramelizes. Then you can serve it with some steamed rice, an over easy egg, and then maybe some chopped up tomatoes, mango or cucumber. That is a delicious Filipino breakfast called silog.” – Jeanelle

What to make with it: Silog

Watch the Video


You May Also Like

6 Things to Order off an Italian Menu

We all think we know Italian food, but do we really? My subscribers from Italy gave me some tips on how to order more authentically off an Italian delivery menu.