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The Pinoy Palate


Chica Villarta

Posted on August 31, 2021

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As Filipinos, sisig, kare-kare and pinakbet are staple dishes we can probably smell and identify from a mile away. If by any chance we are to dine blindfolded, we’ll confidently be able to identify these dishes by their distinct flavors and mouthfeel, unlike any other cuisine we’ve tasted.

These dishes may be a staple in every Filipino kitchen, but they're also available for delivery if we don’t have time to cook—that is, through the ZingEats feature in Ayala Malls’ rewards and customer convenience app, Zing. With just a few clicks, you get to choose from your favorite Ayala Mall restaurants and order these iconic Filipino dishes.

While these dishes form part of our daily lives, very little is written about the origins of their interesting names. To end Buwan ng Wika this August, we did a bit of research and found some interesting tidbits about how our beloved sisig, kare-kare, and pinakbet dishes got their names.


The Augustinian priest Fray Alvaro de Benavente coined the term “sisig” in his 1699 book, "Arte de Lengua Pampanga," where the dish is widely known to originate. In the book, sisig referred to the manner of cooking food by marinating in vinegar, as in a salad. Obviously, the sisig that we know now is a dish quite unlike what the original definition referred to, but the name sticks because its current derivative—often sizzling, made of meat and boiled pig ears—owes its taste from the drizzle of sour calamansi that delivers its flavorful punch.

This Kapampangan staple has swept the country, too. Image from Seda Hotels

Order sisig from Seda BGC via ZingEats.


There are a myriad of claims that surround the etymology of kare-kare—some claim it originated in Pampanga, where earlier versions of the dish were adapted from Moro-Indonesian roots, while others say the dish came about when Indians were assigned to the Philippines, following a local stint by the British government. In any case, both stories agree with the fact that kare-kare was derived from the Tamil-Indian word kari or “sauce,” known in the West as curry.

Nutty, saucy goodness. Image from Red Crab

Enjoy the rich peanut kari we Filipinos can’t get enough of via Red Crab’s version of Kare-Kare, made even more decadent with lechon kawali as its protein of choice.

Order kare-kare from Red Crab via ZingEats.


A famous, all-vegetable dish known to have originated from Northern Luzon, pinakbet is said to have been derived from the Ilocano word for shrunken in size or shriveled—pinakebbet.

Vegetables shrunken in size, but not in flavor. Image via Seafood Island.

Fans of this nutritious dish—either served purely vegetarian or peppered with a few slivers of pork—know that the dish is stir-fried in bagoong or shrimp paste, which lends salty flavor to the dish. As such, the vegetables in pinakbet—ampalaya, okra, talong, string beans, tomato, winged beans, among others—are served shrunken and shriveled, making it perfect as a complement to a hearty meaty dish.

Order pinakbet from Seafood Island via ZingEats.

Enjoy amaZing eats at home by accessing ZingEats here or by downloading the Zing App now via the App Store or Google Play.

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