Filipino cuisine features a vibrant assortment of herbs and spices from all over the world. Many of the most popular dishes in the Philippines blend the nation’s own tropical ingredients with flavors from Spain, Mexico, China and the Middle East. As a result, you can shop at Asian and Mexican markets to help stock your spice rack for Filipino recipes.
Annatto seed is a Mexican spice that tints many Filipino dishes a vivid reddish-orange color, without adding much flavor. Spanish paprika often plays a similar role, but adds a smoky essence. Spicy chilies, especially Thai bird's eye chilies, add a spicier kick to many dishes.
Banana leaves often serve as wrappers for steamed Filipino dishes. These giant leaves are not meant to be eaten, but they impart a mild herbaceous flavor to anything that cooks in them. Bay leaves, which are also too tough to chew, add a woodsy flavor to braised dishes. Chicken adobo, perhaps the most famous Filipino dish, includes bay leaves.