Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Delectable North

The sisig is one of the well-known dishes of Pampanga. From the railroad eateries of Angeles City, the dish of chopped pig ears, cheeks and snout, served on a sizzling plate with a side of calamansi and chilis, has become a staple fare in numerous restaurants in the whole country. But the sisig is not the only dish Pampanga has to offer. The province, known as the food capital of the Philippines, has a lot of unique dishes and foods to offer as well as interesting culinary traditions. In fact, northern Luzon is home to many cultural communities with interesting foods. For a quick survey and introduction to northern Luzon foods, the best bet is the Big Bite! The Northern Food Festival, which annually gathers select food producers from the Ilocos Region, the Cagayan Valley, the Cordilleran region, central Luzon and Metro Manila for a food market and a celebration of everything delicious.
Big Bite! is organized by MarQuee Mall in Angeles City, and this year it was held from October 16 to 18, 2015, at the MarQuee Park as part of Angeles City’s month-long Fiestang Kuliat. As a salute to the popular Pampangan dish, the food festival and market mounted a sisig festival, highlighted by a grand cookout.
After kicking off with fireworks, a marching band and street dancing, the opening day on October 16 featured the cooking of sisig and its varieties. For the cookout, MarQuee Mall invited three well-known chefs—Jackie dela Cruz, Danilo Maramba and Sau del Rosario.
Dela Cruz cooked the Ilocano dish dinakdakan, which is likened to the sisig. Meanwhile, Maramba made a Pangasinan version, replacing pork with milkfish, which is one of the province’s well-known products. Pampanga’s own Del Rosario prepared the sisig as traditional as possible.
Other chefs also made appearances at Big Bite! including Chef Next Door host Jonas Ng, and Center for Asian Culinary Studies founder and president Gene Gonzalez, who hosted cooking demonstrations the following days. Future chefs, on the other hand, participated in cook-offs among top culinary schools from Pampanga.
The meat of the festival was, of course, the food stalls. This year, about 100 merchants participated, offering a range of food items, from the traditional to the innovative, from the old favorites to the novelties, but all homegrown and locally conceptualized. The Ilocos region brought in its popular Ilocos empanada, bagnet and longganisa, while Kalinga and Benguet had coffee, jams and spices. A food stall from Bulacan offered its own version of okoy, made predominantly of grated squash, while another one was owned by a Pampangan kakanin maker, who sells at the San Fernando City public market, offered different kinds of suman as well as the Pampanga tamales. Other Pampanga merchants offered different sweets, baked products, pastries, etc.
For three years now, Big Bite! has become known among foodies and gourmands as well as professionals from the food industry as a go-to event for northern culinary specialties, which can be enjoyed in a light and festive atmosphere.
Big Bite! The Northern Food Festival was mounted in partnership with Department of Tourism, Department of Trade and Industry, Angeles City Tourism Office, North Luzon Expressway and Lifestyle Network.

For more information, contact (045) 304-0110 to 11. Like and follow MarQuee Mall’s social networking sites such as Facebook (, Twitter (@MarQueetweets) and Instagram (@iloveMarQueemall).

Angeles sisig babi
By Sau del Rosario

1 kg pig ears, snout and face
1 kg pork belly
4 large onion, minced
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
5 tbsp chili fresh
10 tbsps vinegar
10 pieces calamansi
1 cup margarine
250 g chicken liver
12 cups water
2 tsp salt
Bay leaf
2 large onions
Some peppercorn

Procedure: Simmer pig head in a pot of water with onions, bay leaf and peppercorn  for one hour (or until tender). Remove the boiled ingredients from the pot then drain excess water. Grill the boiled pig ears and pork belly until done. Chop the pig ears and pork belly into fine pieces. In a wide pan, melt the butter or margarine. Add the onions. Cook until onions are soft. Add the chicken liver. Crush the chicken liver while cooking it in the pan. Add the chopped pig parts and pork belly. Cook for 10 minutes. Put-in the soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi and chili. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. This makes six to eight plates.
Bangus sisig
By Danilo Maramba

1 medium to large boneless bangus
1 large white onion, chopped medium/fine
½ tin (85 grams) liver spread      
Vegetable oil for frying
30 grams butter           
¼ teaspoon garlic powder           
¼ teaspoon ginger powder          
A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper to taste (fresh ground or bottled restaurant grind)
Real mayonnaise (optional, turns the appetizer into a dish)

Procedure: Fry boneless bangus in hot oil until brown and crisp. Allow fried bangus to cool down and flake into small pieces. Toss flaked bangus with liver spread until just about evenly distributed. Set aside. Melt 30 grams of butter in a wok over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sweat slowly until limp and transparent. Add bangus and liver spread mixture then stir and toss till almost done (roughly three minutes). Add garlic powder. Add ginger powder. A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce will give the mixture a slightly darker shine. Toss everything for two minutes more. Immediately remove to serving platters. The completed dish is an appetizer. To turn it into a viand, just add a heaping tablespoon of real mayonnaise.

By Jackie dela Cruz

500g pork head, cleaned
100g pig brain
2 pcs bay leaf
1 tbsp black peppercorn
Water for simmering
2 tbsp oil, for grilling
4 tbsp vinegar (sukang Iloco)
1 pc red chili, minced
2 pcs red onion, julienned
1 tbsp ginger, grated
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Spring onion, chopped, for garnish

Procedure: Simmer pork head with bay leaves and black peppercorns until tender. Strain and cool. Simmer brain for 10 minutes. Strain, cool, remove membrane, coarsely chop and set aside. Grill pork head over medium heat until golden brown. Slice pork head into 1/3 inch by 1/8 inch strips. In a mixing bowl, put sliced pork head and flavor with vinegar and calamansi juice.  Season with salt and ground pepper. Add chilies, red onion and pork brain. Serve in a platter. This yields four servings.

Empanada and other Ilocos delights
Puto flan of Gabee’s of Angeles City

Okoy from Bulacan, made  of squash
Tamales  and sumans of Pampanga
Rattan fruit from Nueva Vizcaya

Masa podrida of Apung Diung of Guagua


All photos by Roel Hoang Manipon

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