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10 must-try Filipino regional dishes

Tiniim na Manok from Nueva Ecija. / photographs by Marky Ramone go for the Daily Tribune

Describing Filipino food is like discussing the film Inception because of the various layers comprising it. Just when you thought you had figured out the overall character of Filipino cuisine, venturing into another province will introduce you to another stratum of taste, texture and smell — essential food traits that exist distinctly in each region of the Philippines. To give you an idea of the diversity of Filipino cuisine, here are some appetizing provincial gastronomies served all over the country.

Tiniim na Manok
(Nueva Ecija)

Bathed in mysterious sauce at first glance, Tiniim na Manok can be prepared in different ways, but this one from Nueva Ecija is served with a thick, peanut-flavored paste and a whole chicken slowly simmered and marinated with pineapple juice. Shallots, ginger, pepper, garlic, salt and other spices are added to create a wonderful fusion of opulent taste.

Curacha in Alavar Sauce (Zamboanga City)

While the curacha, a spanner crab, is also available in many places like Calayan Island, Zamboanga’s version of this sumptuous seafood is elevated with the addition of the city’s famed Alavar sauce — composed of a secret generational recipe served in the Alavar restaurant in the city. Simmered in coconut milk and minced with garlic and ginger, the curacha is served dripping with Alavar sauce. Eating it with your bare hands makes for an unforgettable dining experience.

Pancit Batil-Patong (Tuguegarao, Cagayan)

Swarming with colorful ingredients, Pancit Batil-Patong delivers a knockout blend of savory flavors enough to fill and satisfy your appetite. Composed of pansit miki, the dish is highlighted by minced carabao meat toppings and other vegetables. Because “Batil patong” means “beating the egg” in local language, egg and chicharon are added on top of the already loaded pancit toppings.

Betute (Pampanga)

Travel blogger Mervin Marasigan fondly remembers a Kapampangan specialty called Betute that brims with an exotic taste.
“Betute is a dish of deep-fried farm frogs stuffed with minced pork, garlic and spices. It tastes like chicken, smells clean and the stuffing is quite flavorful. This is definitely a must-try when dining in Pampanga. You really have to try it,” says Marasigan.

BETUTE is a Kapampangan delicacy of deep-fried frog stuffed with minced pork and spices.

Tago Angkan (Bantayan Island, Cebu)

Cebu-based foodie Christoeffer John Estrada discovered an interesting barbecue with a twist in the island of Bantayan in Cebu.
“Tago-Angkan is a womb of a chicken and is grilled like a barbecue. The internal organs are skewed in a barbecue stick and smeared with savory sauce. One can also taste the eggs forming inside the bigger part of the womb or the uterus. It tastes like egg while uterine walls feel like ‘isaw’ or small intestines. It is comparable to chorizo with egg filling.”

(Alaminos, Pangasinan)

When not busy mapping the Philippines, “maptivist” Ervin Malicdem searches the many provinces of the country for interesting local flavors. In the province of Pangasinan, Pigar-pigar satisfied his taste buds.

“It is like beef jerky but made of both the meat and liver, then fried and mixed with vegetables primarily with cabbage and onions. Pigar-pigar’s meat can either be from a cow or a carabao. Originally from Alaminos, Pangasinan, it is now cooked and served in the whole province.”

(Quezon Province)

Another travel blogger, Christine Rogador, recommends an interesting dish in Quezon. “Sinantol is a delicacy from Quezon province. It is made of santol (wild mangosteen) and seafood in coconut milk. In some areas, people use pork or fish as a replacement for crabs and shrimps. The dish has the right combination of sour, salty, spicy and creamy flavors which makes it unique and appetizing. It is usually paired with fried fish or ginangang isda which is what Quezonians call “paksiw,”” Rogador says.

SINANTOL is a delicacy from Quezon made of santol and seafood in coconut milk.

Pastil (Maguindanao)

For travel writer Lai Ariel Samangka, this Mindanaoan food is a must-try.

PasTIL is made of cooked rice with choice meat, a delicacy of Maguindanao.

“Pastil is the most popular Maguindanaon delicacy in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat. It is made of cooked rice, crowned with sauteed shredded meat of chicken, beef or fish and perfectly wrapped with a heated banana leaf,” she says.

(Angono, Rizal)

Before she turned vegan, poet Celine Reyes recalls a time when a plate of Minaluto was served at their dining table in Angono, Rizal.

“In the lakeside town of Angono, the Philippines’ art capital, the culture of creativity extends up to the local gastronomy. Minaluto, a local take on the Spanish paella, is a blend of rice and popular Filipino viands. Along with the variety of seafood and meat, the dish puts a highlight on Angono’s prized kanduli — fish with a tasty and versatile meat, caught in Laguna Lake. It’s definitely a hearty must-try dish!”

Minaluto is Rizal’s take on the Spanish paella.

Adobong Dilaw
(Taal, Batangas)

Adobo is typically brown in color because soy sauce is used as a main ingredient, but in the town of Taal in Batangas, their version is called the adobong dilaw because they use turmeric. It looks like curry because of its color but it is, in fact, a different version of adobo.

These are just a few of the many mouthwatering regional dishes found all over the Philippines. We hope this primer will inspire you to expand your gastronomic adventures in the country.

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Article and Photo originally posted by Tribune last November 20, 2020 1:00am and written by Marky Ramone Go.

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