Noche Buena Menu
Because Noche Buena takes place after the midnight Mass heralding Christmas day, it is a very special meal, more than just a breakfast or a dinner. Seasonal favorites are served, usually in buffet style. The Noche Buena feast shows the varied cultural influences in Philippine food, since it usually consists of a combination of native delicacies, rich Spanish-influenced fare, and contemporary Western favorites. This can be seen in this sampling of a noche buena buffet:
Hamon is simply ham (from the Spanish jamon) that is baked and glazed. Fruit juices like pineapple, and brown sugar, are typically used for the glaze.
Queso de Bola is the Filipino term, from Spanish, for Edam cheese. It is a ball-shaped (de bola) Dutch cheese coated with red wax. With its festive appearance, it is a favorite at Christmastime.
Chicken relleno is a deboned chicken stuffed with savory ingredients like ground pork, ham, and sausage. It is served with gravy.
Pancit is something a Philippine feast is rarely without. Pancit canton, Malabon, or any of the other delectable varieties of this Chinese-influenced noodle dish is sure to be found at a Noche Buena buffet.
Castañas (Spanish for chestnuts) are roasted chestnuts commonly sold by sidewalk vendors in the Philippines during Christmastime.
Puto Bumbong - sticky rice puto that comes in a long thin shape and has a purple color. The elongated shape results from the method of cooking while its color comes from the violet pirurutong rice it is made of.
Bibingka - a rice cake that may have toppings of native white cheese and sliced salted duck eggs served with butter and grated coconut and sometimes sugar. Bibingka is enjoyed for breakfast on any occasion, but it is especially associated with Philippine Christmas.
Halayang ube is a dessert made from boiled mashed ube (purple yam) mixed with coconut milk, evaporated milk, and sugar.
Leche flan (from leche, Spanish for milk) is a rich caramel custard, made with eggs, milk and sugar and flavored with vanilla.
Fruitcake - a Western Christmas treat, brought to the Philippines by the Americans, but Filipinos have their own versions that utilize native fruits and nuts.