Philippine Food Trip: Delectable delicacies in Luzon

Are you up for a unique culinary experience? Take a look at these mouth-watering meals from various parts of Luzon
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Are you up for a unique culinary experience? Take a look at these mouth-watering meals from various parts of Luzon

Since the Philippines is an archipelago, it is separated into the three major islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, respectively. As a result of the country’s extensive archipelago of more than 7,500 islands, the Philippines is somewhat of an eclectic mash-up of hundreds of local, regional, and ethnic cuisines.

While you may get by with the conventional Filipino meals and the two candidates for the Philippine national meal, adobo and sinigang, there are over hundreds of cuisines distributed around the islands that’s waiting for their time in the spotlight.

This article will introduce you to some of the best Luzon dishes, whether you’re a foreigner planning a cuisine tour of the nation or a homegrown foodie curious about what else the country has on its plates.

ILOCOS REGION

Found in the northernmost part of the Philippines is the Ilocos Region, home to one of the country’s most enduring food culture

  • POQUI-POQUI
Photo from Knorr Philippines

A meal here in the Philippines wouldn’t be complete without meat so it’s usually hard to find something that isn’t infused with some type of meat but poqui-poqui is made completely with vegetables, although egg is used in the recipe. Despite being meatless, this dish packs a flavorful punch! Poqui-poqui is made by sautéing grilled eggplants with shallots, garlic, and tomatoes. Beaten eggs are added, and everything cooks until the dish resembles runny scrambled eggs.

Check out a recipe here: https://www.knorr.com/ph/recipe-ideas/poqui-poqui-recipe.html 

  • DINAKDAKAN
Photo from Knorr Philippines

Pork chunks are grilled and boiled to make this savory dish which may also serve as an appetizer. Ingredients such as the pig’s ears and brains are used to avoid wasting any parts of the animal. The Ilocanos consider this dish to be the ideal “finger food” (pulutan), which is often served with alcoholic drinks. The dish is prepared by boiling and then grilling, with pig brains pureed and used as a cream sauce to enhance its flavors.

Check out a recipe here: https://www.knorr.com/ph/recipe-ideas/dinakdakan-recipe.html

  • IGADO

Photo from: Kusinerong Arkitekto | Youtube

One of the most well-known delicacies in the Ilocos region is Igado. At first glance, igado can be mistaken as another Filipino delicacy named menudo due to its color and the ingredients that come with it, but once it lands on anyone’s taste buds, they will be greeted by a surprise. You see, igado tastes a lot like the popular adobo due to its sauce, which is a mixture of soy sauce and vinegar. Apart from that, igado is also made out of pork and liver, but what makes this dish a bit more unique is the fact that it also uses laman-loob or pork innards as part of the ingredients; one trivia about this dish is that its name is adapted from “hígado,” the Spanish word for “liver.” With that, it is obvious that one can only call their igado as igado if it has liver in it.

Check out a recipe here: https://authenticfilipinorecipes.com/recipe/igado/

CAGAYAN VALLEY

Carabao meat is a highlight in the cuisine of Tuguegarao City, the capital of the Cagayan Valley on the island of Luzon

  • PANCIT BATIL PATONG
Photo from TasteAtlas

From Tuguegarao City in Cagayan comes Pancit Batil Patong, an unconventional take on the famous pancit noodle dish. When it comes to this region’s most recognizable noodle dish, you can expect a lot from it. Additional flavor comes from using carabao meat in place of other varieties, which is not usually present in other noodle dishes in the country. Another unique twist is that a special sauce of boiling beef stock may be poured into the dish, together with chopped onions and vinegar dip.

Check out a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/pancit-batil-patung-recipe/

  • SINANTA
Photo from Ang Sarap

The Cagayan Valley is home to another kind of noodle dish known as sinanta, which is also quite famous. Annatto is used to season the stock that is used to cook this meal. It is created with flat egg noodles, rice vermicelli, spring onions, clams, chicken, and pig, and boiled in the annatto-flavored stock. This delicious noodle soup is traditionally served in the homes of Ibanag people, who are indigenous to the Cagayan valley.

Check out a recipe here: https://www.angsarap.net/2019/08/09/sinanta/

CENTRAL LUZON

Central Luzon is home to Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines

  • SISIG
Photo from Foxy Folksy

Pampanga is said to be the origin of sisig. Chops of pig’s head and liver are boiled and grilled, then flavored with soy sauce and garnished with chili peppers to make this meal. It’s usually served as a complement to alcoholic beverages, although it’s now considered a main course as well. The term “sisig” literally translates to “to eat sour,” thus Kapampangans take great care to ensure that their sisig lives up to its namesake. In 2017, Angeles City, Pampanga, proclaimed sizzling sisig babi (“pork sisig”) to be a cultural legacy of Angeles City by City Ordinance No. 405, series of 2017.

Check out a recipe here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwCt_4EBYVk

  • KARE-KARE
Photo from TasteAtlas

A Pampanga-based Filipino delicacy characterized by a rich, flavorful peanut sauce. Stewed oxtail, beef tripe, pork hocks, calves feet, pig trotters, different slices of pork, stewed beef flesh and sometimes offal form the typical basis of this stew. It is common to see kare-kare served during festivals, and the traditional clay pot used to prepare the meal doubles as a serving bowl after it’s done cooking.

Check out a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/kare-kare-recipe/

CALABARZON

Culinary delights and contributions to Filipino cuisine abound in this well-known tourist destination

  • ADOBONG DILAW
Photo from Eat Like Pinoy

As far as Filipino cuisine goes, Adobo might just be the favorite. The main components are aromatics, soy sauce, vinegar, and meat. But there are no two adobo meals that are precisely same. Case in point, Batangas’ Adobong Dilaw which uses turmeric instead of soy sauce, which gives the dish that signature yellow color and unique taste.

Check out a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/adobong-dilaw-recipe/

  • PANCIT LUCBAN
Photo from Yummy PH

Another variation of the beloved pancit noodle dish–the Pancit Lucban (also known as Pancit Habhab) from Quezon. A banana leaf is traditionally used for serving and eating this dish. As a result, it’s consumed in the same manner as a sandwich.

Check out a recipe here: https://www.yummy.ph/recipe/pancit-habhab-pancit-lucban-recipe-a462-20160831

BICOL REGION

Famous for their use of chiles and coconut, Bicolano recipes symbolize the varied cultures of this humble but vibrant area

  • LAING
Photo from Yummy PH

Taro leaves are boiled in a thick coconut milk with meat seasoned with chilies, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, ginger, and shrimp paste to create this Bicolano classic meal. With so many elements, this dish is guaranteed to pack big flavors! The best thing about laing is that you can eat it on its own or pair it with a steaming plate of rice.

Check out a recipe here: https://www.yummy.ph/recipe/laing-recipe

  • KINUNOT
Photo from Ang Sarap

Traditional Kinunot is prepared with stingray (but other kinds of fish can be used), coconut cream, moringa leaves and chilies. In this dish, the fish is flaked and combined with other ingredients before being cooked in a coconut cream sauce.  Chili peppers, coconuts, and seafood are readily available in Bicol, which contributes to the dish Kinunot’s widespread popularity in the region. 

Check out a recipe here: https://www.yummy.ph/recipe/kinunot-na-isda-fish-recipe?ref=site_search

  • PANCIT BATO

Photo from: Lutong Bahay Recipe

Another delightful dish from Bicolandia is Pancit Bato. And no, it is not made of stones or cement or anything like that. In truth, this noodle dish is the namesake of the town where it originated from: Bato, Camarines Sur. The noodles of this traditional dish are made out of wheat flour, which is usually dried under the heat of the sun, but can also be heat dried using either firewood or an oven so as to hasten the drying process. The meatiness and savoriness of Pancit Bato is made possible by the letter-perfect combination of the heat dried noodles, pork cut into chunks or chicken liver (it all depends on the availability, really), chopped vegetables such cabbages, carrots, etc., salt, pepper, and of course, oil; some also add fish sauce or soy sauce and shrimp for extra flavor.

Check out a recipe here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VnlaEJjr6I

  • ADOBO SA ASIN

Photo from: Ms. Langbauy | Youtube

It goes without saying just how popular adobo is. The said dish possesses a taste that just effortlessly fits with every Filipino’s taste buds. What’s more, it is so well-loved in the Philippines that people have creatively come up with a lot of variations that are just as delectable as the original recipe; one of which is Bicol’s Adobo sa Asin.  Contrary to the conventional adobo that we have all come to adore, Bicol’s version is slightly distinctive. Why? It’s because most people instinctively picture a meal with pieces of pork slathered in a brown to dark brown sauce when they hear the word “adobo,” but for the people native to Bicolandia? The best adobo is golden-brown!

Despite the fact that it’s prepared quite identically to its traditional counterpart, adobo sa asin is prepped with salt rather than soy sauce, as the name indicates. The meal tastes more savory than normal since nothing overpowers the flavor of the pork in this way. Additionally, because salt has excellent preservation qualities, a huge quantity of this amazing meal (stored at room temperature) may be readily enjoyed by everyone for a few days before it spoils!

Check out a recipe here:ADOBO SA ASIN | LUTONG BICOL SIMPLE AT MASARAP 

NATIONAL CAPITAL REGION

The National Capital Region is known as a fusion of regional food because of its diverse community

  • STREET FOODS
Photo from Guide to the Philippines

Being the capital of the Philippines, the bustling streets of the metropolitan Manila is lined with street foods that has become integral to the life of a typical Manileno. Some of the most common street food you’ll find just about anywhere is tokneneng (eggs coated in flour), balut (duck embryos), banana cue (bananas deep-fried and coated in caramelized brown sugar), fish/chicken balls (balls of flour with meat or fish), and isaw (grilled chicken intestines).

  • SINIGANG
Photo from Yummy PH

It’s a Filipino stew or soup known for its sour and savory flavor. Tamarind is most often the souring agent for the distinctive broth. Sinigang, one of the country’s most popular dishes, is a strong candidate for the title of national dish alongside adobo. The most common component is pork, although other options include seafood, beef, and chicken.

Check out a recipe here: https://panlasangpinoy.com/pork-sinigang-na-baboy-recipe/

CORDILLERA ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

Bagiuo, regarded as a culinary heaven, can be found in the region

  • KINIING
Photo from Basilio’s Kiniing’s Facebook

In the Cordilleras, dried pork known as Kiniing is created using centuries-old methods of preserving meat. First, it’s marinated in salted water with guava leaves.  It is then strung up to be smoked with pine wood. Aside from improving the flavor and texture, smoking the meat makes it more durable so that it may be kept for extended periods of time.Read more about kiniing: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1086409

  • PINUNEG
Photo from ABS-CBN News

Pinuneg, a Filipino blood sausage, is said to have originated among the Igorot people of the Philippines. Pig’s blood, chopped pork fat, salt, red onions, ginger, and garlic are placed inside a shell created from pig’s small intestine and rolled into a sausage. It is usually cooked as part of a sacrificial pig ceremony.

Read more about pinuneg: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1120688/cordillera-dishes-show-connection-to-the-earth

MIMAROPA

If you’re eager for a culinary adventure, give these dishes a try

  • GINATAANG PUSO NG SAGING
Photo from Ang Sarap

It’s a dish native to the province of Occidental Mindoro in the Philippines. Cooked in coconut sauce, it has a mixture of banana blossoms (puso ng saging), pork, and chili peppers. Salt and pepper are also used in the recipe as are onions and garlic.

Check out a recipe here: https://asianfoodnetwork.com/ph/recipes/cuisine/filipino/ginataang-puso-ng-saging.html 

  • ADOBONG PUGITA
Photo from TasteAtlas

This meal is an alternative take on the classic adobo that substitutes octopus for the traditional pork. Octopus of a mature age is used in the preparation of Adobong Pugita, which is then braised in a sauce consisting of soy sauce and vinegar. In the Philippines, it is often consumed as the main course, or it is served with beer as a finger food.

Check out a recipe here: https://foodcitations.com/octopus-adobo-recipe/

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