Christmas in the Philippines is so much fun. This is readily confirmed by Filipinos living abroad such as myself and my family.
No matter what country we live in, nothing compares to Christmas in the Philippines. From the Simbang Gabi we attend for nine consecutive days to the Christmas lights along Ayala Avenue. Not to mention the Christmas bazaars and tiangges held throughout December, Filipinos know how to celebrate Christmas.
For those of us living abroad, we are faced with a dilemma – how do we capture the traditions from the Philippines but still celebrate the season in a way that fits our new home? We hang our Christmas parol outside against the backdrop of several inches of snow piled in the yard. We attend Simbang Gabi at night instead of early in the morning due to the limited availability of the local priests.
For our Noche Buena dishes, we adapt our menu to fit the local ingredients. So why should we be limited on how we prepare these classic dishes? Let’s take the best recipes from our new countries and fuse its flavors with our traditional Filipino Noche Buena recipes. The result: we get a culinary fusion that highlights the best flavors while retaining the familiar taste that brings us all back home.
(Editor’s note: For the recipes, please click on the link below each image.)8. Chicken Lemon Orzo Soup
This lemon orzo soup is made with fresh chicken broth, orzo pasta or rice, eggs and lemon zest that remind you of our traditional arroz caldo.
It will give you hints of the garlic, and calamansi flavor of arroz caldo but this warm delicious soup brings it’s up a notch. The flavors are comforting but yet you know you are tasting a new dish. It is a refreshing way to kick off your Noche Buena meal.7. Queso de bola Bibingka Soufflé
How can you go wrong with this treat? It has both queso de bola and bibingka in its name: two iconic ingredients of a traditional Noche Buena. I’m sure your abuelos won’t mind seeing their bibingka done with a different twist. Oh yes with Queso de bola to boot.6. Crown Lamb Rack
Nothing says Christmas like this Crown Rack of Lamb. It checks all the requisite boxes for a Noche Buena meal. Festive, beautiful to look at and –oh packed with delightful flavors. This will definitely be your piece de resistance on your Noche Buena table.5. Ube Macaron
Make way for this bite size delicate French confection. This dessert will adorn your Noche Buena spread like dainty pearls on a black dress. Add a flavoring of our classic Ube and for sure, this treat will blend with the rest of your Filipino inspired spread.4. Chocolate Sticky Rice
Be bold; try something new with this delightful sticky rice concoction. You may call it an amped up biko or suman glazed with chocolate ganache. It will hold your tsokolate cravings to a halt.3. Dulce de Leche Flan Cheesecake
What is a Noche Buena without the iconic dessert leche flan. But this time, let’s play up the flavors and texture, shall we? Why not make the custard flan into a cheesecake. Your family and friends will bite into a whole new surprise- that of a creamier, richer and more decadent dessert—is this a flan or is this a cheesecake.2. Red Fruit Compote
This will remind you of our traditional Filipino fruit salad but this seems to be a dessert on steroids. Our Filipino version uses canned fruits while this recipe is made of fresh fruits stewed in red wine with the cream added on top. The tartness is balanced off by the sweetness at the end from both the cream and the syrup.1. Porchetta ala Lechon Cebu
Lechon may look good on your Christmas table spread but often it is just is too big for a family of four. You will get tired of eating left over paksiw na lechon. So why not have a smaller version of the real thing without compromising on the savory, succulent pork dish. This entrée is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser.
Do you have Christmas dinner recipes you want to share? Post them in the Comments Section below.