Salt is abundant in a lands surrounded with oceans and seas. The Philippines being an archipelago will never run out of salt. And so, we guess that eating salty food is but natural for Filipinos. It’s how we preserve our food – we salt them and ferment them. Salt is perhaps the most important condiment in the world, and for most of us, a little more salt doesn’t hurt especially since we like our food extra briny. But if your on the high cholesterol side of your health, we highly recommend you avoid these, sad to say, delicious dishes!
What Pinoy can resist the smell and taste of bagoong? When we think of bagoong, we often think of the many other local delicacies we usually pair it with. Bagoong na hipon (salted shrimp paste) is usually paired with the tangy green mango, bagoong na isda (salted tiny fish) is usually used as dip for boiled saba banana, and bagoong na talaba (salted oysters) is eaten alone or turned into torta.
Dried fish or tuyo is abundant in an archipelagic country such as the Philippines. Salting and drying seafood is the best ways to preserve it. For this reason, we are made famous for our danggit, pusit and other dried seafood. Dried fish is a staple food for us Pinoys. It is a constant during breakfast no matter our social status. Rich or poor – if you’re a Filipino (or have acquired the Filipino palate) – you always look forward to a Filipino breakfast made complete with a serving of crispy, deep-fried dried fish dipped in spiced vinegar.
3. Salted Egg
Salted egg, those purple colored eggs in the grocery stores, are also a Pinoy favorite. They are usually mixed in tomato salads dressed in mayo or vinegar to mellow down the saltiness. Years ago, commercially available salted egg were way too salty that a little pinch of the yolk could actually make you cringe and want to gulp down a liter of water. However, salted eggs are now much better. Still salty, but just the right amount such that you can actually finish off one whole egg without craving for water.
Chicharon or crispy pork rind is another delicacy in the country. Pinoys make really delicious chicharon that we use as pulutan, snacks, or toppings to our favorite batchoy or palabok. We know of kids who actually prefer chicharon as viand or accompaniment to rice. Chicharon is crunchy, salty with a hint of spices and sometimes comes in hot and spicy flavor. It is sinfully good to munch day in and day out.
5. Instant Noodles
Instant noodles and pancit canton contains enormous amounts of sodium. A single pack may contain up to 2,000mg or more of sodium which is around 80% of the recommended daily intake. Look at the back of the pack and you might be shocked at how much salt one serving of instant noodles contains. But a hot soup or noodle dish that you can make in a blink of an eye makes for a convenient meal, especially when you are too busy to make a homecook dish or on a tight budget to hit a decent restaurant.
6. Hotdog/ Longaniza
Wow, hotdogs, longaniza, ham, bacon and other processed meats are delish for all-day breakfast, for making sandwiches and for garnishing salads. Who doesn’t like them? Kids and kids at heart – we love hotdogs. No matter how much hotdog we have at home, we always find it irresistible to hit the hotdog stall in the mall or 7-11 for a serving of hotdog in a bun. Yum! However, processed meats contain loads of salt, which accounts for their umami, salty taste. We Pinoys should control our intake of them if we want to keep a healthy lifestyle.
7. French Fries
French fries – they are another Pinoy favorite. We like the crispy, salty taste of deep fried potato wedges along with our choice of fastfood meal. It’s the side dish that makes a fast food order complete. Aside from finding them at our favorite fast food joints, fries are also being sold in small stalls and come in varying shapes and flavors. Why, we just can’t get enough of potato friends, can we?
8. Chips/Junk Food
Pinoys like snacking, and a bag of chips or junk food always provide a good company whether you’re alone on a movie marathon or hanging out with friends. Chips come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, ingredients and flavors. There’s corn, potato, mixed grains, and other starchy ingredients. The worst part about them is the salt content, plus the fact that they’re considered junk. A medium size bag of chips is meant for double to triple serving, but we usually can finish off a bag or two in one sitting, which accounts for around half the sodium intake required each day.
9. Salted Nuts
Whether bought from the grocery or from the sidewalk, salted nuts are a pastime favorite among Filipinos, and a choice pulutan for beer. We like them salty, garlicky, spicy and sometimes drenched in caramel coating. Some nuts are sold as low fat, less sodium alternatives, making them a healthy choice. But many of those we can buy are almost always packed with lots of salt, which offsets the health benefits of eating them.
10. Canned Goods
Canned goods, in addition to instant noodles, are constant in a Filipino pantry. We like them so much that even the smallest and remotest sari-sari store always have at least sardines and corned beef ready. They store pretty well and they cut down the cooking time (sometimes we eat them without cooking). Within minutes, we have can have a full meal – only that we are actually eating sodium-loaded canned good. Aside from sodium, canned goods just like processed meats contain food preservatives, which doesn’t sit well with those who promote healthy living.
Salty food may be a favorite of ours, and salt deeply enhances the flavor of food. But when eaten in large amounts over long periods of time, salt can actually harm our body and trigger diseases such as renal failure, hypertension, stroke, and cancer. In as much as we crave for bagoong or daing, we also need to take care of our bodies. It may be best to regulate our intake of salty foods as much as we can, and go for less salty alternatives.
Have you got any thing to add to our list? We invite you to pump up a discussion regarding the Filipinos’ appetite for the salty and briny. Do put your thoughts in writing in the comments section below, and while you’re at it, perhaps you’d like to share this one with your friends and loved ones. They may be eating too much salt in one go without knowing it!