Pampanga & Bulacan’s Sweet and Sour Cuisine

Pampanga and Bulacan are highly recognized for its sweetened delicacies and well prepared courses. In Pampanga, cuisine is a major task lavishly prepared with natural creativity and talent. Food is attributed to its earthy abundance like fermented crabs, fermented rice sauce or buro, fermented frogs, milkfish in sour soup, fried mole crickets and sweetened cured pork slices known as tocino- a breakfast dish commonly prepared in a traditional Filipino table.

Naturally rich in rice and sugar, Pampanga region sweetens most of its dishes particularly desserts. Its incredibly tasty turrones, marzipans and meringues are some Spanish-style creams puffs or egg yolk custards. A traditional dish called Tibok-tibok which is made out of water buffalo milk blended with corn is not far from the race. Enseymada, a buttery rolled ban; bringhe, special rice prepared with coconut milk; leche flan, a crème brulee cooked with water buffalo milk; and a wide selection of rice cakes are Pampangeno dishes that made up the country’s bounteous delicacies.

Bulacan created its traditional cuisine mostly from their wide agricultural lands and big rivers. Bulakeno cooking is leisurely prepared the old fashioned way. River fish are boiled with citrus or in palm wine, then flamed. Mudfish are fermented or packed in banana stalks and buried in live coals. They prepare seafood like shellfish, sauteed with guava and flavored with ginger broth. Considering animal-raising as their main industry, Bulakenos specialize on meat dishes. If you haven’t seen a strange way of roasting chicken, try watching how they do it in Bulacan. They prepare chicken by having it sit in a claypot lined with salt and cook it as is. They even claim their version of relleno and galantina (stuffed chicken rolls); asado or pot roast; and estofado, pork leg; and kare-kare, stewed beef in peanut sauce better than other regions.

Mindanao’s Malay-influenced Cuisine

In Mindanao, most cuisines are influenced by the exotic taste bud of the Malays. Spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, chillies, lemon grass roasted coconut are present in most of their dishes. Their Seafood platter is prepared raw, grilled or fried; or put in soups based in lemon grass, ginger and green papaya and in some ways mixed with coconut cream and turmeric.

Chicken curry, a popular dish in most eastern countries, is prepared in Mindanao with taro in a stinging spicy curry sauce.

Every province boasts of having the best version of adobo. In most parts of the country adobo is prepared with soy sauce, vinegar and garlic, and thus turning its sauce slightly darker. Zamboanga’s adobo, however, prepared similarly but thickened with coconut cream, resulting it to have a more distinct character and taste. The province also is famous for its various way of serving root crops and rice. Glutinous rice is mixed with spices, coconut milk and prawns; or prepared with turmeric and pimento. Cassava, is boiled and grated into cakes or any other sweet pastries.

As the province composed of largest Spanish influence, Zamboanga’s cusido or commonly called pochero is a traditional Sunday platter served similarly to that of Spanish cusido, with sausages, pork ribs, salted pork, sweet potatoes corn and cooking banana or locally called saba. It is a famous dish that made Zamboanga cuisine a delightful blend of east and west.

The Variety Of Visayan Cuisine

The Visayas is a gathering of big and small islands in the middle part of the archipelago where cuisine and delicacies vary according to their ancestral influences.

Natives in the Visayas don’t pass their day without any dish from the sea. Kinilaw is a common dish every Visayan prepare during a good catch. It refers to the marinating of freshest fish or shellfish in vinegar or any souring ingredients for eating raw. In Dumaguete, Leyte, Cebu and Bohol, kinilaw is prepared with coconut cream, palm wine vinegar, lime and chillies. Slightly different from a regular kinilaw which is prepared by soaking the fish in vinegar, and seasoned with lime, ginger, chillies, onion, spring onions and garlic.

The delicious Chinese noodle soup called Pancit molo of Iloilo are dumplings filled with minced chicken, pork and prawn cooked in a tasty soup that turns out a common dish in most Filipino restaurants.

Another dish Ilongo contributed to the lush cuisine of the country is the mouth-watering lumpiang ubod– heart of palm in fresh crepes, slightly mixed with shrimp and strips of pork meat.

Ilongos also shared a tasty dish with Bacolod locals called Binakol– a chicken soup dish based not from chicken stock but on Buko juice or juice from young coconut.

Bacolod also has Inasal or barbequed chicken marinated in kalamansi, a local citrus and atsuete or annatto, reddish seed used for food coloring.

The Unusual Ilocano Cuisine

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.

The Hot & Spicy Cuisine of Bicol

Bicol’s regular use of gata or coconut cream and chilli in all its dishes marked the region with authenticity of Asian cuisine. Chilli or “Sili” and coconut cream locally called “gata” come together appetizingly with rice and lots of water to cool down its spicy taste.

The famous Laing or Pinangat is a delicious native dish prepared in bundles of taro leaves, filled with shredded taro leaves, bits of meat or shrimp, lots of chillies, ginger, garlic and onion; then cooked steadily in coconut cream. Most main dishes in the region are based in gata and sili particularly the way vegetables are cooked. May it be banana blossom, jackfruit, or any edible plant, Bicolanos transform it into a delicious dish topped with chillies, which according to them best before a vigorous activity.

Bicol Express so far is everyone’s choice when asked about Bicol’s specialty. It is a mixture of pork meat and shrimp paste sautéed in tomatoes and onions and lots and lots of green chili strips simmered in coconut cream. This dish is a classic favorite of Bicolano farmers specially taken before an energetic activity to enhance their endurance at work.

Kinunot, is an unusual dish prepared with pagi or stingray meat and kalunggay or malunggay- an edible tree leaf used in many local dishes. Just like other bicol dishes, the main ingredients, stingray meat and malunggay, are simmered in coconut cream and green chillies along with some slices of onion and garlic.