Showcasing the best of the North; as we rank the most mouthwatering Ilokano food ever, PH First style!
Note: All food included on this post are based on our opinion so if we miss out or ranked a certain food higher than your favorite/s, please respect our list and you can just send your own opinion on the comments below.
So now, let’s get started…
Are you one of most PHeeps who always want to included soup on their everyday meal? Do you love to eat Papaitan or Nilagang Baka, if yes, want to combine it and you want to know what it tastes like? Look no further! Ilocos had this food combination for several years now and it’s called a Sinaglao, half Papaitan, half Nilagang Baka dish! It is served as a regular soup that don’t have a bitter taste like the usual Papaitan though it has beef innards or ‘lamang loob’ in Tagalog but the soup is partnered with a sauce bottle. Not your usual sauce bottle because it is actually called the ‘Papaitan Sauce’, this is a perfect way to blend the volume of bitterness of your Sinanglao. A very unique dish indeed and as of now, the most famous place to check out Sinanglao is by the streets of Vigan City, along Plaza Burgos. There you can taste this infamous but truly delicious authentic dish!
9. Okoy Vigan
Okoy or Shrimp fritters are in fact well known to be served all around the country but probably the best ones can be found in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. Unlike a regular Okoy, the main ingredient-shrimp will be mixed altogether with garlic, chili peppers and sometimes even with vegetables. Plus it is a perfect match with Ilocos’ very own Sukang Iloko. Try out Vigan City’s Okoys at the famous ‘Emapanadahan‘ at Plaza Burgos of Vigan City.
No those are not bamboo batons that serves as a weapon though nifty when a Zombie Apocalypse occurs. Those are actually Tinubongs! The name is actually derived from it’s bamboo container which is called a ‘tubong’. With the other end of the tubong open, a wet mixture of glutinous flour, sugar, coconut milk, small strips of young coconut flesh, cheese and margarine is inserted into the tube. Others also used ground peanuts and raisins. In the good old days, the tinubong was cooked over charcoal embers until the tubong changed its color from green to a slightly scorched black. Nowadays, however, large-scale tinubong makers use the kind of ovens found in bakeries. Now Tinubongs are one of the signature ‘pasalubong’ when you come from Ilocos, due to the fact that it lasts for up to 2 weeks without refrigeration. You can check out Kuya Rex & Ate Lisa’s Tinubongs and other authentic delicacies at their store at Santo Domingo, Ilocos sur named Four Stars Tinubong.
7. Empanadang Batac/Pagudpud
At first glance, you will thought that these fritters are giant ‘Kwek-Kweks’ but actually these are the famous Empanadang Iloko. With the combination of beans, shredded cabbages, grated unripe papayas, onion, garlic, longganisang Iloko and finally the finishing touch, crack the egg and put in the middle of the dough. Not to mention the dough/coating itself is made of rice flour. Totally different from Vigan’s regular flour coating making it much more delicious and heavier on our tummies. The orange coloring of the Empanada is made to attract the PHeeps since the regular Empanada is just a dull brown fritter just like the ones you can see at Vigan City. (Sorry) You can check out Batac’s famous Empanadas at their Empanadahan by the River or visit Pagudpud very own Angela’s Empanada near the municipal hall and town plaza.
6. Royal Bibingka
Treat yourself with Royalty on Ilocos. Try out these tasty Bibingkas but they are not the usual ‘Christmas bibingkas’, they are much smaller, turned into cupcake size. Though the texture is much more different, they are like those ‘Kutsintas’, sticky but soft. The Royal Bibingkas retain the cheese and butter toppings and these treats lasts a week without refrigeration. Royal Bibingkas spans across mostly around the province of Ilocos Sur. Marsha’s, Tongson’s, Sisters’ and Four Stars serve the best Royal Bibingkas out there.
5. Marsha’s Brownies
We’re half way through our list, this means that we’re approaching the best that Ilocos has to offer! (based on our opinion)So let’s get started with number 5!
Yet another unique way of our Ilokano PHeeps to shake things around. Introducing Marsha’s Chocolate Brownies! What’s so special about it? Not much but the fact the chocolate coating is mixed with cheese! That’s right cheese! Causing the brownies to taste mildly sweet with a salty aftertaste. The melting sensation of chocolate and a little bit of cheese in your mouth is the best thus making Marsha’s Brownies number 5 on our list. Check our Marsh’as Brownies at Marsha’s Delicacies at Bantay along the Maharlika highway or go to their stall near Plaza Burgos at Vigan City.
Insarabasab, Sarabasab or Ilocano Style Sisig is an Ilocano dish made out of chopped flame grilled pork belly mixed with chillies, onions, vinegar and other spices. The name of this dish came from the word Insarabasab which means “something burned in fire” which exactly describes its cooking process. Traditional way basically is cooked in flames over a top of a clay stove called dalikan, the taste of the logs smoke add to the character of this dish, once cooked the pork is then chopped into small pieces and mixed with other ingredients and the most important of it is the drenching of Sukang Ilocos.
3. The Original Pinakbet/Pakbet
‘Pakbut’! he word is the contracted form of the Ilokano word pinakebbet, meaning “shrunk” or “shriveled”. The original Ilokano pinakbet uses bagoong, of fermented monamon or other fish, for seasoning sauce, while further south, bagoong alamangis used. The dish usually includes ‘Ampalaya’ or bitter melon. Other vegetables used includes eggplant, tomato, okra, string beans, chili peppers, parda, winged beans, and others. Root crops and some beans like camote, patani, kadios are also optionally added. The young pod of malunggay is also added. It is usually spiced with ginger, onions, or garlic. Traditionally, Ilokano folks add any edible plants on their backyard to the Pinakbet. And Ilokanos told us if you added a squash or ‘Kalabasa’, it’s not a Ilokano Pakbet anymore.
2. Longganisang Iloko
Of course! How can we not forget these delicious things! Longganisang Iloko or popularly known as Longganisang Vigan is the traditional plump native sausage, good for about two or three bites. It is garlicky and has a yellowish color. Although it is eaten anytime, even as a bread filling, it is traditional favored as breakfast fare together with fried eggs and steamed or fried rice. It is best dipped in Ilocos vinegar with plenty of chili, garlic and onions. Filipinos cook them in a pan with water. The longganisa cooks in its own fat after the water evaporates and is then cooked further until it slightly caramelizes. A tip to avoid crumbling is to place it in the freezer for a while before frying it. Vigan longganisa is said to be an influence of the Mexican salami. The tradition of making this native has existed since the period of the Spanish galleon trade. It is distinct from other Philippine sausages because of its use of the local sugar cane vinegar and Vigan-grown garlic, which are major products of the city as well. The Biguenos (or the locals of Vigan City) are so fiercely proud of their longganisa that they have made it as the product they would like to be most known for.
Before we head to our number 1 food of Ilocos, check out our Honorable Mentions;
Dragonfruit, Dinengdeng, Dinakdakan, Pakbet Pizza, Empanadang Vigan, Karamay, Any Goat delicacy
And finally, our Top 1 best food in Ilocos is, the one & only;
Bagnet is the Ilokano version of one of our favorite Filipino dish called lechon kawali. The usual sauce paired with lechon kawali is the lechon sauce, made from pork liver, bread crumbs and spices and some prefer vinegar with spices. But the original sauce for bagnet is raw pork blood mixed with sugar and vinegar, a sort of kinilaw, others also prefer some Bagoong Isda as their sauce. A Bagnet is traditionally dried under the sun, marinated and then deep fried making it much crispier and has a distinct taste than your regular Lechon Kawali. When you see a Bagnet, you automatically think of Ilocos thus the Ilokanos officially recognizes this food as their regional delicacy symbol. You can found Bagnets almost everywhere in the entire Ilocos region, even in the Cordilleras as well!
So that’s the end of our list. Hope we helped you guys or you agreed on our opinion. If not, you may share your thoughts by posting a comment below. Thank you for reading and God bless you PHeeps!