In most situations, getting into a fight is not a good thing. However, most Filipinos can probably relate when I say that there is at least one fight you would be grateful to be a part of. And that is the boodle fight! Even just hearing the term can elicit a ton of excitement to those familiar with this. That’s because a boodle fight is one of the best ways to celebrate, while making sure you go home full and satisfied from a scrumptious meal! Let’s dive into the basics of the boodle fight before I give you a look at how to do it properly.
What is a Boodle Fight?
Essentially, this is a Filipino tradition that involves various foods splayed out on a table. Now this would often be placed on banana leaves so you know that you have a nice and clean surface for your dishes. But you absolutely cannot forget one of the most important parts of the boodle fight— absolutely no utensils should be used. That means your spoon and fork, and even chopsticks, should be out of the way. That is the fun of eating the boodle fight way!
But where does the “fight” part come in? Well, this actually began as a Philippine military tradition during the period of American colonization in the Philippines. And the word “boodle” was army slang for certain treats. And so the beauty of the boodle fight is also in multiple people coming together to eat a great feast! Since Filipinos truly value the idea of sharing when it comes to food, the idea of the boodle fight came to life.
In a nutshell, if you ever were to host a boodle fight, don’t forget to prepare various dishes— mostly grilled ones— on banana leaves. And with a group of people, get ready to chow down using your hands! All the fun is in the way we get to eat our favorite dishes together. But I have a few more recommendations if you want to do your first or next boodle fight in the best way.
Tips to Create a Great Boodle Fight:
1. Have a long table ready
This is pretty important when you are hosting a relatively large group for your boodle fight. You have to make sure everyone has enough space to eat, and so it is best to prepare a long table. But if you only have regular-sized ones, you can simply align a bunch of these. Just make sure they are the same height.
Other than the table though, also make sure you have enough chairs for everyone. What I see a lot of us using for boodle fights though are long benches that can fit more people. After all, the more the merrier!
2. Prepare mostly dry or grilled dishes
So how do you assemble a perfect boodle fight? What you can start out with is a long line of rice going down the middle of your table. And then lined at the side are various “ulams,” also known as viands, and more side dishes you might like. When it comes to the viand, we unfortunately cannot choose every Filipino food we might like. Stews and soups are usually out of the equation because it is much easier to eat with our hands, as well as arrange the food on our table, when we have somewhat dry dishes. And so you will commonly see grilled squid or pork when it comes to boodle fights. Fried food also gets the green light for this one.
3. Refrain from eating a lot before your boodle fight
We really want to make the most of every boodle fight experience. And so as we do when we are preparing for a buffet, we have to leave some room in our stomach to get ready to eat! As such, it may be best not to eat too much before your boodle fight so you can get a taste of all the yummy dishes you have prepared for it!
4. Make sure everyone washes their hands
Of course, safety and sanitation is a significant aspect of every dining experience. That’s why you must make sure that what we are using to eat is nice and clean. After all, we do the same for our spoons, forks and knives. Remind everyone in your boodle fight party to wash their hands before you start. And so it would be quite helpful to place your entire setup close to a handwashing station or a bathroom. This way, if things tend to get messy as you are eating, a place to clean up is accessible!
I already mentioned a bit about the dishes we can expect in a boodle fight. But if you are in search of recipes to try out, I have just the perfect ones for you! Here are some dishes you should definitely try making for the occasion so you can get the full experience.
Some of the Best Food To Include in your Next Boodle Fight:
No boodle fight is complete without some savory, smokey Inihaw Na Liempo At Pusit. I love this recipe because it already gives us two essential ingredients for our boodle fight. That would be meat and seafood. And you would quickly be able to tell why this is one of the best dishes to have in your gathering. There is just something so satisfying about being able to eat your grilled favorites with your hands, and mix it really well with the rice.
But one of the challenges that come with this dish is ensuring that you get a smooth squid and pork belly. A number of cooks find it truly difficult to get squid right as it can get overcooked quickly. Just make sure that you keep watch over your ingredients as you are grilling. For your squid, keep in mind you would only need about 6 to 8 minutes of cooking for each side.
It is always great to play a bit with the classics when it comes to cooking. That’s why I thought of putting a twist to another boodle fight staple— the Inasal Na Manok. For this recipe, we are integrating the flavor of sampaloc to give our crispy, rich chicken some delicious sourness. Once you have made your Sinigang Mix Inasal Na Manok, you can expect an absolutely flavorful treat that can stand out in a table full of irresistible dishes.
And while our main concern for the previous dish was overcooking, it is probably the other way around for your inasal. You have to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through. For this, it would be important to monitor the temperature. If the heat is too high, you can end up with a burnt exterior and a raw interior.
Since we already have so many flavors involved from the ulam alone, most people like to go for white rice for their boodle fight. But you can definitely enjoy your grilled favorites with something a bit different, and with all the goodness of garlic and adobo! This Adobo Fried Rice is one of my favorite ways to utilize leftover adobo. You can enjoy it with a variety of dishes because it is seasoned just right so it is not overwhelming. And this works even as a standalone dish, boodle fight aside.
And for this dish, a little goes a long way. Once you have your leftover adobo, there is a very short list of other ingredients you will need. And cooking this is quick and easy. You just have to toss your components together, and make sure you don’t overcook it.
Want to still go the simple right for your rice, while adding just a hint of flavor? In any case, and not just with our boodle fight, it can be quite difficult to say no to Sinangag Na Kanin. I love whipping this up because it shows you just how easy it can be to make people happy with what you cook. After all, this has become incredibly popular among Filipinos, and livens up any dish with just its four ingredients.
When it comes to your boodle fight, there is more to think about than just ulam and rice. Part of what makes this so special and delicious is the integration of vegetables like Seared Okra And Tomato. This serves somewhat as a palate cleanser that would be great once you are starting to get a bit full from all your selections.
There is also a certain simplicity to the dish that makes it more appealing. It only utilizes garlic powder, and a bit of salt and ground black pepper to give our veggies more flavor. You also will need less than 15 minutes to make this. And so it may be one of the easiest recipes you can add to your feast!
It would also be great to incorporate a bit of fruit to your boodle fight. But if you want to keep things on the savory side, you can go for the classic Manggang Hilaw At Bagoong. Like our sinangag, this is a crowd favorite that various Filipinos love. Although some may argue it is an acquired taste, numerous Pinoys truly enjoy the light sourness in the green mango mixed with the umami flavor of our bagoong.
And this is so quick to make because all you will truly need to do is plate the two ingredients together nicely. Get your fresh green mangoes, and line that beside some shrimp paste on your table.
Well what do you say? Are you ready to get your boodle fight on? If not, you can write any of your questions about this in the comments below!