11 Essential Cooking Terms Every Filipino Should Know

Have you ever heard of Travis Kraft? He’s this American model and actor who, up until last year, produced his Youtube videos in the Philippines. Apparently, he even had a starring role in a Filipino movie entitled “Ang Turkey Man ay Pabo Rin.”


However, he did go viral long before Youtube was even a thing. Back in 2007, he came out with a video on how to cook adobo. Sure, it doesn’t sound particularly groundbreaking, but you see, the guy narrated the whole thing in Tagalog. 


Now, while his American accent flavored the entire narration (“adobong mah-nahk!”), his cooking vocabulary was pretty impressive. Seriously, I’ve lived in the Philippines my whole life and I didn’t even know some of the terms. Like, what the heck does “sangkutsahin” mean??


If you’re in the same boat as I am, the following list will open your eyes to other Filipino cooking terms beyond the usual “gisa” (sauté) and “prito” (fry):


  1. Banli.
  2. 1-Banli

    Image Credit: Tramontina-USA


    You’ve heard of blanching, right? When you boil vegetables quickly and then plunge them into ice-cold water to immediately stop the cooking process?


    Not only does this help maintain a crunchy texture, but it also preserves a vegetable’s vibrant color.


  3. Binuro.
  4. 2-Binuro

    Image Credit: WikiHow


    In English, this means to ferment or to pickle. To preserve fresh produce, you submerge them in a water/vinegar/salt mixture for an extended period. 


    Fish, fruits, and vegetables generally benefit from this method.


  5. Busa.
  6. 3-Busa

    Image Credit: Youtube


    This term describes the process of toasting food with a very small amount of oil. Think peanuts or Christmassy chestnuts.


  7. Halabos.
  8. 4-Halabos

    Image Credit: southsidestories.wordpress


    You’re likely to see this term beside shellfish on most menus since it means to cook them in their own juices. On the other hand, it can also pertain to cooking shellfish in liquid, such as halabos na hipon, which involves soda.


  9. Hinurno.
  10. 5-Hinurno

    Image Credit: Colourbox


    This is an umbrella term for roasting or baking meat in an oven. If you’ve ever seen rotisserie chickens spinning on metal rods, that would be a good visual for this word.


  11. Inasnan.
  12. 6-Inasnan

    Image Credit: tastingtable.com


    Inasinan” is Tagalog for putting salt on something, hence this term. Thus, it describes another method for preserving meat, fish, or vegetables, specifically by curing them with salt. 


  13. Pangat.
  14. 7-Pangat

    Image Credit: thepeachkitchen.com


    Stewing something (usually fish) with tomatoes makes it a pinangat dish, basically. 


  15. Pesa.
  16. 8-Pesa

    Image Credit: pinoycookingrecipes.com


    Much like the previous cooking term, this one typically applies to fish. This method involves sautéeing fish and then boiling it with fish sauce, ginger, and vegetables.


  17. Pinais.
  18. 9-Pinais

    Image Credit: AngSarap and KawalingPinoy


    This is like binalot, except the food actually steams in the banana leaf wrapper prior to serving. 


  19. Sangkutsa.
  20. 10-Sangkutsa

    Image Credit: tanogotchi.blogspot and urmajestysire.wordpress


    Well, this list wouldn’t be complete without that cooking term that tripped me up. Essentially, sangkutsa just means to parboil something until it softens but isn’t cooked through. 


     Little wonder then that Travis Kraft invoked it in his adobo video.


  21. Sinuam.
  22. 11-Sinuam

    Image Credit: mamasguiderecipes.com


    Sinuam is similar to pesa, except that it involves boiling sautéed seafood with ginger and bay leaves. 


Has reading this list made you hungry? Try out our recipes for Filipino specialties here, here, and here

Serena Estrella

Serena joined Remit back in 2016, and has tormented its Marketing Head constantly ever since. To get through the rigors of writing about grave concerns like exchange rates, citizenship requirements, and PH-AU news, she likes to blast Mozart, Vivaldi, ONE OK ROCK, and Shigeru Umebayashi in the background. She does a mean Merida voice in her spare time too.


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