Cuisine & Delicacies
Almost all of the provinces in the Ilocos region share similar taste in food. Most of their pride delicacies consist of rice and vegetables. Obviously, this is derived from the abundance of harvest in their rich mountainous land.
Ilocanos are very fond of bagoong (a salty shrimp paste). They use bagoong as condiments or as an added ingredient in their dishes.
The native Ilocanos usually eat with their hands. There are no chairs or tables and the food is laid out on the floor. The family members are seated around the food and eat in different parts of the room. Since food is a symbol of God’s grace, members should not be noisy, laughing, singing or saying harsh words.
The food should not be dropped on the floor or else the food will be “angered and leave the household”. Also, no one should leave the house while someone is still eating. God’s grace will go with him and out of the home.
Pinakbet is considered as the most popular Ilocano dish and has become known throughout the Philippines as well. The term ‘Pinakbet’ is derived from the Ilocano word pinakebbet, which means shrunken or shriveled.
This dish is cooked with bagoong with native Ilocano vegetables like tomato, bitter gourd (ampalaya), eggplant, string beans, okra, lima beans (patani), chilli pepper, and other Filipino vegetables including parda and winged beans. The Tagalog version of pinakbet is called pakbet, which includes cabbage.
Pinakbet is best cooked in a clay pot (palayok). It is usually cooked until it’s almost dry and the vegetables are shriveled. In the Ilocano way, it is not stirred until it is cooked and ready to serve. The taste depends on the amount of bagoong and tomato used. Some pinakbet dishes have pork in it for added flavor.
Dinardaraan is the Ilocano version of the Tagalog’s Dinuguan. It is made from the blood, entrails and meat of a pig. It is sometimes known as “chocolate meat” due to its thick chocolate-like color and consistency. The term Dinardaraan was derived from the term “dara”, which means blood.
Another authentic Ilocano dish is the Dinengdeng. This dish is made from malunggay leaves or the malunggay fruit. The malunggay is boiled in watery soup and seasoned with bagoong and topped with grilled fish.
This dish is made from the lean meat and intestines of water buffalo, cow, sheep or goat. It is eaten raw or partially cooked with a sauce of vinegar, salt, hot pepper, and pig’s bile.
The empanada is a popular street food in Ilocos Norte. There are several variations of this delicacy. There’s an ordinary empanada, which is made from papaya, bean sprouts, and egg. The ordinary eggless empanada only contains vegetables. The special empanada includes longganisa and egg. The special eggless has longganisa but without egg and many other variations.