Top 10 Famous Ilocano Recipes

Located in the northern side of the Philippines, Ilocos is popular with tourists for its white sand beaches, breathtaking landscapes, thrilling adventures, and colonial vibe. This historic town is also a haven for foodies known for its distinct yet mouthwatering local cuisine. Ilocano recipes boast fresh ingredients and bold flavors, guaranteed to fascinate and satisfy your palate.

So, if you’re planning a trip north, read on as we share famous Ilocano recipes you should not miss on your visit!

1. Vigan Longganisa

One of the most famous Ilocano recipes, Vigan Longganisa, is a Filipino-style pork sausage known for its distinct flavor. This longganisa variant is also one of the most famous foods in Ilocos, which is made of ground pork seasoned with garlic, vinegar, and other seasonings. Contrary to most longganisa in the country known for its sweetness, the Vigan Longganisa has a garlicky and salty flavor, making it addictively tasty.

Many stalls in the public market of Vigan sell this tasty good. But if you want to enjoy this recipe for real, visit Ilocos in January to experience the Longganisa Festival.

2. Bagnet

Another famous Ilocano recipe, Bagnet, is a favorite food for most Filipinos – a deep-fried crispy pork belly dish. Also known as Chicharon Baboy, the Ilocano Bagnet is not only popular in Ilocos. In fact, you can find it anywhere in the Philippines, often served in restaurants as a viand or appetizer paired with ice-cold beer.

While this recipe is similar to Lechon Kawali, which is cooked for minutes, the Ilocano Bagnet is deep-fried on low fire for about 2 to 3 hours until it’s golden and crispy. So, if you’re a fan of fried pork, don’t pass up trying Ilocano Bagnet.

3. Etag/Itag

Also known as Etag in Igorot, Itag, Inasin, or Inasinan is a famous Ilocano recipe made of smoked or dried salt-cured pork. While this recipe is native to the Cordillera, Etag is also a traditional dish in Ilocos, where the term Bagnet came from, which means to preserve the pork. This Ilocano recipe is a salted pork dish, cured and aged in earthen jars and placed underground.

If you have tried blue cheese, you can compare its flavor to Etag. The only difference is that cooked Etag is tastier and oilier. Etag is also used to make Pinikpikan, giving it a unique flavor.

4. Ilocos Empanada

The list of famous Ilocano recipes won’t be complete without Ilocos Empanada – a tasty and healthy snack known for its unique bright orange color. In Ilocos, Empanada is made of shell-like flour and contains ground beef, green papaya, eggs, and chopped longganisa. Then, Empanada is deep-fried until crispy and served with a spiced vinegar sauce – a savory snack you’ll surely enjoy!

You can find many Empanada vendors in Batac, Ilocos Sur, and Vigan City, which slightly differ in taste. Additionally, the Empanadas in Batac are so popular that they even celebrate the Empanada Festival every June 23rd.

5. Okoy

Aside from Empanada, Okay is another famous dish in Ilocos – a crispy and tasty shrimp fritter. When making this recipe, Ilocanos don’t remove the shrimp shells. Instead, they cook baby shrimp with a glutinous rice batter. It’s fried into a rounded snack garnished with fresh spring onions, garlic, and chili peppers.

Like Empanada, the Ilocano Okoy is best enjoyed with Ilocos-style spicy vinegar, making the dish more tasty and flavorful. Also, this must-try Ilocano food is often sold along with Empanadas, so finding it would be easy. 

6. Pinakbet

A quintessential vegetable dish that represents the Ilocos region – Pinakbet is so popular that you can find it throughout the Philippines, usually sold in roadside food stalls (carinderia) and restaurants. This Ilocano recipe is an all-time favorite dish of Filipinos, which contains almost all the vegetables from the Bahay Kubo song.

Pinakbet contains various vegetables, like eggplant, squash, green beans, okra, bitter gourd (ampalaya), and tomatoes. It also contains pork and prawns and is seasoned with shrimp paste (bagoong) – a nutritious and savory dish you’ll surely enjoy.

7. Poqui-Poqui

If you love eating Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelet), you will also enjoy the taste of the Ilocano food Poqui-Poqui. Like the traditional Filipino vegetable omelet, this recipe also contains grilled eggplant. So, how does this dish differ from Tortang Talong? Poqui-Poqui comes with sauteed garlic, onions, tomatoes, and eggs mashed together, making the dish tastier than Tortang Talong, which gets its flavor by adding ketchup.

The dish has a Hawaiin influence, where the term “poki” came from, which means to slice or mash. Poqui-Poqui is also served in most Ilocos restaurants, like the Bistro Candon and Cuisine de Iloco.

8. Dinengdeng

Another famous vegetable recipe from the Ilocos region, Dinengdeng, is a bagoong soup-based dish, just like Pinakbet. Dinengdeng, also known as abraw or inabraw, is a traditional Filipino dish that contains various vegetables, such as eggplant, okra, bitter gourd, squash, and jute leaves (saluyot) simmered in water with bagoong. However, Dinengdeng has fewer vegetables than Pinakbet since it has a soup base.

The dish contains fried or grilled milkfish (bangus) and crushed root ginger. So, if you’re looking for an alternative vegetable recipe, go for the nutritious Dinengdeng dish!

9. Igado

For those who are into pig innards, this Ilocano recipe will surely satisfy your palate. Igado is a unique Ilocano dish that contains tenderloin, pig innards, and sliced liver. These ingredients are marinated in vinegar and soy sauce to make the dish addictively salty and tangy. Ilocanos also put bell pepper and green peas into Igado, adding more color and rich flavor.

This traditional Filipino recipe is not only popular in Ilocos. But you can find it throughout the country, commonly sold in roadside food stalls, cafes, and restaurants.

10. Dinakdakan

Last but certainly not least, Dinakdakan, also known as Warekwarek, is the Ilocano’s take on the Kapampangan’s Sisig. This famous Ilocano recipe is enjoyed by those with diverse palates. Why? Because, like Igado, this recipe contains pig innards. But Dinakdakan is more on the intense side. It has different pig parts, including its ears, face, and liver. The authentic Dinakdakan dish also has a thick and creamy texture, achieved by adding a mashed pig brain to the recipe.

Then, the pig parts are seasoned with calamansi juice, ginger, onions, chili, bay leaves, black peppercorns, and mayonnaise. This Ilocano staple is also a favorite appetizer (pulutan) for most Filipinos, best enjoyed with cold beer.

 

References

https://thesmartlocal.ph/ilocano-foods/

https://www.authenticfoodquest.com/ilocos-food-philippines/

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