They say that travels aren’t complete without food. There’s always an eat and feast session when you’re on vacation, and you really can’t say you’ve been to this or that place if you haven’t tried the destination’s unique dish.

It’s not a secret, however, that it’s tough to be in a celebratory, excited mood for travel and food these days, given the coronavirus pandemic and general community quarantine measures in place.

But while trips are limited and the majority of tourist attractions are still closed, there’s a way to ease that intense wanderlust even while staying at home: cooking signature dishes from bucket list places yourself. Try these travel recipes.

The Connection Between Travel and Food 

A taste of the place’s famous food is an immersive cultural experience. Cebu’s Lechon takes you to the exciting, glamorous scene of big fiestas. The spices of Indian food believed to have healing properties, give you a peek into the extensive influence of Ayurveda to people’s way of life. You learn so much about customs and traditions just by treating your palate to the place’s unique flavor.

This is why food and travel recipes work during the quarantine. You get to relive your trips, how you savored that juicy, crispy lechon skin at the last Sinulog festival, or be excited about ticking off your bucket list, like going to the must-try seafood restaurants in Boracay once the crisis is over.

While staying at home, dealing with the “itchy feet,” scratch it with some signature food from your favorite tourist destinations. Below are some recipes you should try, all of which yield to four to six servings:

1. Bagnet from Vigan

This crispy, crunchy meal is a staple in every restaurant and drinking session. It’s a crowd favorite not only in Vigan but also in many restaurants in Metro Manila.

While you may not enjoy it with the backdrop of vintage houses and cobblestone streets, you can appreciate it all the same as you share it with the entire family. What’s more, preparation is easy, especially when you’re following quick travel recipes.

Photo courtesy of Lucas Vinicius Peixoto via Unsplash


  • 2 pounds whole pork belly 
  • 6 cloves crushed garlic 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorn 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt

Steps for cooking:

  • In a deep pan, let the pork simmer with seasoning, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper for half an hour.
  • After boiling, drain the water and allow the meat to dry. Store the pork in the fridge overnight.
  • Broil the meat in a turbo, setting it at the highest temperature for the first 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees Celcius and leave it there for the next 20 minutes.
  • Serve it with soy-vinegar sauce or all-around sarsa. 

2. Binakol from Aklan

This is the Bisaya’s version of tinola. What’s different about this travel food, however, is that Aklanons traditionally cook it in a bamboo tube or coconut shells to make it more flavorful.

If you’re looking for some chicken recipes or missing traveling to the breezy province of Aklan, this food will surely give you comfort. It’s okay if you don’t have a bamboo tube to cook it with; your same, old pots will do for this travel recipe.

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  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 knob ginger, chopped
  • 3 cups coconut water
  • 1 green papaya, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut meat

Steps for cooking:

  • Knead the chicken with some salt and pepper.
  • Boil the chicken, along with the onion, ginger, and coconut water in a pot for 40 minutes. 
  • Put the papaya in and let it simmer for 10 minutes more. 
  • Add the coconut meat, then mix. Serve it in your coconut shells.
  • 3. Sinanglay from Cotabato

This province is known to have an abundant supply of fish, with tilapia being the most common food in the locals’ dining tables. This food recipe has a lot to do with coconut milk and vegetables.

Serving this for lunch or dinner, you’ll surely await the day when you can eat the same meal with the view of Lake Sebu.

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  • 2 pieces tilapia
  • 2 large cabbage leaves
  • 1 knob ginger, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water

Steps for cooking:

  • Mix the tomatoes, ginger, onion, and garlic in a bowl, then stuff the mixture into the fish. 
  • Wrap the tilapia with strips of cabbage.
  • Put the wrapped fish in a cooking pan, then pour the coconut milk and water. 
  • Let it cook for 20 minutes, then serve hot.
  • 4. Calamansi muffin from Boracay

Can’t get enough of Aklan? Bring Boracay to your table with this moist, tender delicacy. Just letting the smell of this oven-baked goodness waft through your kitchen is enough to take you to the quaint Real Coffee and Tea Cafe.

This recipe will surely make you more excited about traveling back and finally using that Boracay gastronomic guide to good use. Bond with the kids while following the recipe:

Photo courtesy of June O via Unsplash


  • 1/4 cup calamansi juice, no seeds
  • 1/4 cup milk of your choice
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 pcs eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Steps for baking:

  • Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in one bowl. In another bowl, mix the calamansi and milk. Set aside these first as you proceed to the next step.
  • Beat the butter and sugar for about three minutes until it’s creamy. Put in two eggs into the mixture one at a time. Add all the mixtures you set aside, then blend it well. 
  • Once it achieves that nice, thick consistency, scoop the batter into your cupcake pan. 
  • Put it in the oven for 20 minutes under 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve and eaten best when warm.
  • 5. Kimchi from Korea

For an international flavor, go for Korea’s best veggie bites. With this, you’ll feel less miserable that you can’t see the Tangeum Lake Rainbow Bridge, Hallasan National Park, and other kilig hotspots from your favorite scenes from K-dramas.

With the sour-spicy flavor of kimchi, coupled with some slow, romantic K-Pop ballad, you can relieve that wanderlust and experience Korea, all the same.

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  • 1 medium head napa cabbage
  • 1 to 5 tablespoons Korean hot pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon, grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, grated
  • 1 sliced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon, granulated sugar
  • 4 medium scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Steps for cooking:

  • Cut the napa cabbage into cubes. Get a large bowl and soak the cabbage with water and salt. Put a lid on the bowl and let it sit for an hour or two.
  • Rinse the cabbage with cold water three times. Set aside.
  • Using a food processor, make the paste. Mix garlic, ginger, shallot, hot pepper flakes, and sugar.
  • In a bowl, combine the paste, drained cabbage, and some scallions. Knead everything together using a glove.
  • Store the kimchi in a jar and let it ferment for three to five days.

6. Ramen from Japan

The rainy season is here, which makes it the best time for slurping these yummy, hot favorite. The best thing about this dish is that it’s easy to make.

As you slip into a food coma following the easy travel recipe below, imagine getting a taste of authentic ramen in the next winter sakura season in Japan. For sure, this will hype you up in jotting down bucket list ideas, what to do, and where to go in the Land of the Rising Sun.

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  • 6 packages of ramen noodles
  • 6 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 sheet dried kombu or seaweed
  • 2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 piece ginger, peeled and cut
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 3 to 5 eggs

Steps for cooking:

  • Marinate the chicken in soy and mirin mix. Put it in the oven under 425 degrees Fahrenheit or until it’s brown. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees for the next 20 minutes. Move the chicken to a pot. 
  • Take again the roasting pan you used, pour some hot water into it, and scrape all the residue in the roasting pan. Add this mixture to the pot to make the chicken more flavorful. 
  • Add kombu, shiitake, ginger, and garlic into the pot and simmer the broth until the meat is soft and tender. Pour the broth into a bowl, eliminating the solids, and then let it cool. Keep it in the fridge overnight. 
  • Mix the soy sauce and mirin for the tare and keep it refrigerated until serving time.
  • Boil the eggs and cook the noodles. Reheat the broth. Serve the ramen with egg toppings.

7. Pad thai from Thailand

If you want another noodle dish to make your rainy days less gloomy, pad thai is a good choice. This stir-fried meal will get you in the mood for preparing your Thai street food crawl on your next trip. Make sure that you don’t forget this in your Thai food travel recipes.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Kowalski via Unsplash


  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound shrimp
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced

Steps for cooking:

  • Cook the noodles and set aside. 
  • Mix the brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, cayenne pepper, and lime juice in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat a pan and cook the bell pepper until it's tender. Then, add the garlic and shrimp, sprinkling some salt and pepper. On one side of the pan, cook the eggs. 
  • Once the eggs are scrambled, add the shrimp mixture. Throw the cooked noodles into the mix, as well as lime juice.
  • Serve with green onions as garnish.

8. Banh Mi from Vietnam

Literally “bread” in English, banh mi is a classic Vietnamese sandwich stuffed with meat and pickled vegetables.

You may not see the grandiosity of Halong Bay or Ho Chi Minh City in the near future, but you can take a piece of Vietnam home by serving this popular snack for merienda. 

Hopefully, this crusty bread roll would get your palate ready for other unique, must-eat Vietnamese dishes and make you more excited about traveling there.

Photo courtesy of Flo Dahm via Pexels


  • 15 ounces of pork tenderloin
  • Two 12-inch baguettes, sliced in half lengthwise 
  • 8 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, divided 
  • 8 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 medium carrot, sliced 
  • 2 medium daikon radish, sliced
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

Steps for cooking:

  • Cut the pork tenderloin into strips as thinly as possible. Transfer it to a bowl to marinate the meat in hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, and fish sauce. 
  • After 15 minutes, pop in some carrots and radish. Put the mix in a pan, stirring it for four minutes. Set aside.
  • In an oven preheated under 425 degrees Fahrenheit, toast your bread for ten minutes or until it turns golden brown. Then, arrange the pork between the sliced bread, spread mayonnaise, and add the remaining hoisin sauce and pickled vegetables. Serve.

There you have it, international dishes that are super easy to make right in the comfort of your home.

The coronavirus pandemic may have put a halt in your travel plans, but it shouldn’t stop you from learning about the destination you’re eyeing to visit. Take a “tour” around the country and Asia by satisfying your tummy with unique dishes from bucket list places.