Camperspoint Philippines

The Unusual Ilocano Cuisine

Wednesday 14 July 2004, by catseye

The Ilocos region, where several provinces share similar customs, language and food, has delicacies made up of rice and vegetables derived basically from the richness of their mountainous dry land. Most of their specialty are seasoned with fermented fish sauce.

The region is famous for its Pinakbet- a mixture of several vegetables such as squash, okra, eggplant, ampalaya or bitter gourd and string beans cooked with bagoong or fermented fish paste. The way this dish is prepared varies in different regions. Some parts of Ilocos, which are closer to the sea, top a pinakbet based in soup with grilled fish, leaving the vegetables cooked until tender and seasoned with bagoong or fermented fish. Other’s cook this dish with sauteed pork in garlic, onion, tomatoes and shrimp paste along with assorted vegetables.

Another authentic Ilocano dish is Dinengdeng. Malunggay or its fruit boiled in watery soup, seasoned with bagoong and topped with grilled fish.

Ilocanos also are keen about grilled ampalaya with bagoong or fermented fish as the sauce dip.

Ilocano delicacies sought to have been healthier than others but their regular use of fermented fish called bagoong, gets them closer to health impairment. Bagnet (dried pork belly) is an interesting dish, deep fried with bagoong until skin turns crispy.

They also have made Longanisa famous all over the country as a main Filipino breakfast dish. It is a sweet fatty ground pork sausage basically fried and eaten with rice in the morning.

Horrible as it may seem, aside from Cordillera region, Ilocos is another place where dog meat is a delicacy. Asucena is a dog meat dish cooked in thick tomato sauce, green peas and breadcrumbs. Locals from Benguet and mountain province say that eating this meat gives them extra strength and courage working in the steep mountains of Cordillera.

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