A Taste of Ilocos Norte - Snack Attack

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A Taste of Ilocos Norte
The Saluyots of the North
Meat Lovers
Catch of the Day
Homegrown Wine
The Edible Inedible
Snack Attack
Market Day
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Snack Attack

Whether it's for a quick fix during work or simply for want of something to nibble at, Ilocanos like to snack. These snacks, sweet or otherwise, are as varied as their meat and vegetable dishes. Some are meals in themselves such as empanada and the famous miki of Batac. Miki is a kind of chicken noodle soup that distinguishes itself from other Filipino variations by the type of egg noodles it uses.

The definitive Ilocano snack is empanada, a deep-fried meatpie made from orange-colored dough and a variety of fillings. The main filling for this cheap but filling treat is egg and bits of longganisa. Depending on the cook's ingenuity, one can expect monggo, papaya, cabbage, squash or even glass noodles in the pie's filling. For a most satisfying empanada experience, sprinkle generous amounts of local vinegar with every bite and order ice-cold soda to wash it down. The best place for these meatpies is the town plaza foodcourt in Batac.

Rice cakes like sapin-sapin and bibingka are sold throughout the province. The most popular of these is tupig, which is made from diket, coconut milk or gata and molasses. Shredded matured coconut and sesame seeds are added for a crunchy texture. The mixture is then wrapped in banana leaves and roasted over charcoal. Other rice-based snacks are busi and patupat.

Sweets are eaten mainly by children but it's not unusual to see these served as dessert. Homegrown sweets are mostly derivatives from sugarcane, one of the province's main agricultural products in the provinces.

Molasses or tagapulot is used to make heavily sweetened calamansi juice. Farmers mix it with basi others just combine it with rice or use as a vital ingredient in other sweet delicacies such as tupig, dila-dila¬, tinubong and linapet. Barangay lang-ayan in Currimao specializes in the peculiar linga, which is made from sesame seeds cooked in tagapulot or sugarcane juice and made into candy bars.

Often sold in markets is the candied version of tagapulot called palinang. The process of making it is similar to tagapulot, the only difference being the addition of apog, a fine powder made from crushed crab shells, which allows the mixture to harden. Palinang is then poured into half-coconut shells. If one finds palinang a mouthful, smaller shaved bits called balikutsa are also sold in packs.

Some towns have their own specialty snacks. Pasuquin's original Pasuquin Bakery is home to the Ilocos biscocho. The Filipino version of the biscocho is basically baked leftover bread. Dingras' most famous backyard industry is cornick and other fruit snacks, the most famous of these are Nana Rosa Cornick.

Visitors can also look for Manang Lilia who also sells dried singkamas (a rootcrop) and kondol (a vegetable gourd).

The Ilocanos have also made snacks out of the unlikeliest ingredients. From bluegreen algae, they've whipped up the fried tabtaba cracklets. There are squash candy balls, squash milk candy, squash ice cream and their own version of leche flan using squash. The humble marungay leaves have also been used to make candy balls and even muffins.

But perhaps the most interesting snack of all are those pickled in vinegar or inartem. Visitors can pick from a number of artem, including mangga (mango) and balayang (banana). The most popular artem is karmay, a crunchy white fruit the size of a marble. From afar it looks like the ordinary sago drink found everywhere in the country because of dark-colored Iluko vinegar.


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