White rice is the focal point of the majority of Filipino dishes, with various additions including herbs, sauces, local vegetables, seafood and meat. Because they can be used in many ways, corn, bread and noodles are also used frequently.
Local seafood including grouper, shrimp, clams, bass and tilapia are often served with chicken and pork. Beef is usually saved for special events and occasions, although it is available. Some common sauces that are served with the rice, vegetables, meats and seafood include adobo sauce, spicy barbecue, lemongrass, salty fish sauce, soy sauce, miso tomato, dried shrimp paste and Filipino vinegar.
It is common for vegetable and meat dishes to be served with vegetable, beef or chicken broth. Often the broth or sauces are mixed with onions, peppers, limes, cilantro, garlic or ginger. Coconut is frequently used in soups and deserts.
It is customary in Filipino culture to eat five small-plate meals in a day. Courses are generally all served at the same time, and are eaten with fingers, spoons or forks. Urban communities tend to make dinner the major meal of the day, whereas poor areas usually eat their main meal during the middle of the day. When dining as a guest in a Filipino home, it is customary to compliment the host's wife on her home, bring a small gift and write a letter of thanks within a week after dining.