If you’re visiting Cebu for the Holy Week, try these delicious local dishes.
Inun-unan is the Visayan way of cooking fish by stewing it over vinegar, spicing it with ginger, and loading it with bits of vegetables such as radish and ampalaya. This dish is sour, salty, and tugs at the heart of every Cebuano. Any kind of fish will do but many would agree that cooking it with bangus, also known as milkfish, is the best. Try ditching the utensils and enjoy inun-unan over a bowl of warm rice.
Buwad, also known as dried fish, is a local favorite. Cebuanos usually eat it with rice and egg but many also enjoy it with a caramelized mix of tomatoes and onions. If you’re trying buwad for the first time, the taste might take some getting used to. It is prepared in a similar way to beef jerky, so be prepared to drink a lot of water since some variants are seasoned with more salt than others. Try visiting the Taboan public market in Cebu City to see all the dried goods on display.
Utan bisaya is a simple dish that most Cebuanos will fondly remember as part of their childhood. The soup is a mix of various vegetables that have been cooked on pot of boiling water and seasoned with salt or some leftover fish. Local vegetables are often used but a mix of any kind of vegetables will do. It is so simple that anyone can make this dish at home. Try it and enjoy a warm bowl of utan bisaya on a cold and rainy day.
A sweet and creamy concoction that is best enjoyed on a rainy day, binignit is a Cebuano staple during the Lenten Season. The ingredients for this colorful stew can vary but it is commonly a mix of jackfruit, saba (cooking bananas), landang (palm flour jelly balls), taro, glutinous rice, and sago which are then stewed in a mixture of coconut milk and brown sugar. Although the reason behind the practice is unclear, Cebuano households produce large batches of the dish every Good Friday. Don’t forget to savour every spoonful of binignit when you visit Cebu during Lent.
Biko is a popular household dessert that is traditionally served as an afternoon snack. The dish involves cooking the rice in a pot of coconut milk and topping it with a drizzle of rich brown sugar. To achieve this sweet and sticky consistency, do not substitute glutinous rice with any other kind since the results will not be the same.
Puto and Sikwate
Puto and sikwate is traditional pre-breakfast fare in many Cebuano households and it is sometimes followed by a heavier meal a few hours after. Puto is known as steamed sticky rice that has been seasoned with bits of ginger, salt, and sugar, while sikwate is a hot chocolate drink made from tableya de cacao (tablets of roasted cacao beans). Puto and sikwate always go together and is occasionally eaten with sweet ripe mangoes. If you are trying sikwate for the first time, try mixing it with sugar and milk to combat the bitter taste of the cacao.