Ilocos Empanada: A Delicious Surprise!

Ilocos Empanada: A Delicious Surprise!

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If you are in search of a good food go north of the Luzon region-to the majestic province of the Ilocos Norte. Aside from its rich Cultural Heritage and Historical significance, another better way to enjoy your stay there is to have a taste of genuine ilokano delicacies.

One delicacy that you must try to eat is the Batac-Laoag Empanada or simply known as the Ilocos Empanada. This food can be enjoyed anytime as it is widely sold in many stalls or restaurants that you can find in the market places or town proper.

This local specialty is similar to large or small circular stuffed bread or pastry from Spain, Portugal, Italy and South America usually consisting of ingredients like meat and vegetables; however Ilocos Empanadas are stuffed with a filling of grated green papayas, mongo sprouts and egg yolk for the regular and an extra filling of Ilokano Longganisa (sausage) for the special one. Other variants for the special empanada includes meat fillings of Bagnet (deep-fried, crispy pork belly), Sisig (pig’s face, ears and brain sliced to bite sizes complimented with vinegar, onions and chilis), Dinuguan (pork meat chunks cooked with pork blood) and Higado (pork meat chunks cooked in soy sause and vinegar)

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Instead of the soft and sweet dough version in the Tagalog Region-Deep-fried Ilokano Empanadas uses rice flour to have thicker and crispy texture. To make it more pleasing to the eyes and appetite the filling is enveloped in a bright orangey colored dough. Usually Sukang Iloko (black local vinegar produced in the region) is a perfect condiment to the dish while for some they prefer to use ketchup instead.

It is best to eat Ilocos Empanada while it is hot or fried at the moment you buy it. This is to make sure that you get to eat it fresh, hot and crispy. A delicious surprise to your palates right before you eat this local food-seeing it prepared on the spot. The cooking method employs very simple preparations: first the vendor gets a chunk of orange dough, flattens and circularly molds it; second, the fillings are placed at the center and topped with an egg yolk; Lastly, the dough is folded in half and seals it by pressing the ends of the pastry and deep fries it.

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Ilocos Norte offers a variety of specialty foods. Bagnet (deep fried and crispy pork belly), Pinakbet (assorted vegetables in liquid fish paste), Bibingka (rice cake) and papaitan (mixed internal organ of a cow in a bitter-sour soup) are just some of the authentic ilokano foods you should not miss to taste also, but make sure that Ilocos Empanada is included to your list!

/// Written by Hanse Oswald, The Philippines