To introduce distinctly Ilokano food flavors at the commemoration of Ilocos Norte’s 203rd foundation anniversary, the Provincial Government, through the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office, organized a culinary competition on February 2, at the St. Augustine’s Church Complex in Paoay.
21 component municipalities sent their contenders to the competition while two (2) provinces, Pangasinan and La Union, faced-off under the Ridge and Reef Category.
Among the standouts is the exotic pinakbet by contenders from the Municipality of Adams. The highland town and one of Ilocos Norte’s cultural community, has substituted common pinakbet ingredients like okra, string beans, and bitter gourd, with wild foliage and native fruits such as pako (fiddlehead fern), bitter rattan core, laplapayag (tree fungi), balballosa (wild eggplant), dragonfruit, and udang (river prawn), among others, to create a dish that also feeds the eyes.
“Ito [exotic pinakbet] ang hinahanda namin sa Adams kapag mayroong mga bisitang pumapasyal na galing sa lowlands. Karamihan sa mga sangkap ay galing sa kagubatan. Pinaniniwalaan na ang mga ito ay mayaman sa anti-oxidants at nakakatulong upang magamot ang ilang sakit katulad ng diabetes.
“Halos magkaparehas din ang lasa sa nakasanayan nating pinakbet pero ang kabutihan nito ay organic lahat ng sangkap,”explained Ms. Anavic Medrano
Other standout dishes are Vintar’s bukto (river fish) in sun-dried tomato sauce, Laoag’s healthy vegetable suman (rice delicacy), San Nicola’s araet (slow-cooked pork), and Pasuquin’s busi (popped rice).
Speaking at the awarding ceremony, Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc said:
“I would like to congratulate everyone on coming together today. It’s quite an achievement that we all deserve. Congratulations on hosting a successful and safe culinary festival.”
For the Ridge and Reef category, La Union’s maritangtang (sea urchin) pinakbet bested the dish of Pangasinan. Meanwhile, Batac City’s nachos empanada was awarded second runner-up, Pagudpud’s seaweed salad was first runner-up, and Dingras’ “Dingrice” snatched the championship trophy.－Edison Justin B. Deus, PGIN-CMO