ILOCOS NORTE Post #5: Garlic, Empanada, Tinubong and CORNIX!!!
I once asked “celebrated-man-about-town” Apa Ongpin which garlic was better – the larger-than-golf-balls Taiwan garlic or the dainty braided Ilocos variety. Hands-down, he said, the Ilocos garlic was superior because of it’s clean and strong flavor. He always used it in his baked stuffed Tilapia. From that day on, I made it a point to avoid the big, flashy Taiwan bulbs in favor of our very own.
And yet another memory pops into mind when garlic is mentioned – an NU107 listener asked me once if garlic was a vegetable or an herb. Those were my DJ days in the mid-90s!! Whooohooooo!!! Well, after a bit of research, I found that garlic was an ALLIUM (whatevah that is) and is closely related to onions.
Tip: crush your garlic before consuming it to get a more powerful antibiotic effect.
Tip #2: Parsley helps neutralize bad breath caused by garlic. LOL!
This lovely braid of garlic pictured above was part of the merchandise being sold right next to the Marcos Crypt in Ilocos Norte. Did you know that garlic acts like a preservative and can extend the “life” of refrigerated raw chicken by up to 21 days? That led me to wonder if they used Ilocos garlic on Ferdinand Marcos to keep him looking so native and fresh.
Next to the garlic, was the corniks stand! Now how to describe CORNIKS? Hmmm… my hubby Ron says they’re deep-fried and salted corn kernels that are not allowed to pop. LOLOLOL!!!
Corniks is also called CHICHA-CORN – corn kernels cooked like pork rind or chicharon. I must mention at this point that the Ilocos Corniks is way different from the corniks you find in Manila or other cities because it is made from a very fine variety of corn. The common corniks has a regular solid corn shape while the Ilocos ChichaCORN is poofier and softer.
Next to the Cornix, my hubby Ron spotted some short Arnis-like bamboo sticks. Inside them was some kind of suman (a sticky rice dessert). It was called TINUBONG and just like an Arnis stick, you need to whack it on something before you can get the goodies! The lady demonstrated it with the help of the pavement and voila! Instant dessert
This article says Tinubong is “made of grated coconut, salt, glutinous rice, bamboo tubes (12 inches long with one node closed), and bamban leaves.” It even has a recipe on how to make Tinubong for you culinary geniuses to try!!!
I truly love the concept of a dangerous weapon combined with dessert. With a Tinubong, you can beat the living daylights out of anyone who tries to steal your food and then you can get your “just desserts,” harharharhar!
After the garlic, cornix and tinubong experiences, the Media Pillar team (which I’m the secretary of) moved on to some deep-fried action…
The city of Batac, which is about 30 minutes away from Laoag, is famous for it’s EMPANADA. In fact, its Empanada is more famous than the city itself, LOLOL! I was more than willing to sample one until I discovered that the Batac Empanada was DEEP-FRIED. That put the brakes on my appetite, but it did not stop the more “dietarily adventurous” members of Media Pillar from going down our coaster to satisfy thier hunger.
Some ingredients found in a Batac Empanada include longanisa, hotdogs and egg. Here is a wonderful article on the difference betwee the Batac or Laoag Empanada and the Vigan Empanada. I found it in a blog called “Biag Ken Siak” dedicated to the Province of Ilocos. Can anyone tell me what “Biag Ken Siak” means? I think BIAG means life and is related to the word bayag (I’m using the word in an anatomical spirit so please don’t get offended, LOL!!!). Bayag means testicles – so true how life is found in THAT body part, and how quickly you can lose life if you get a boot in that region!
Another thing that makes this empanada different from the usual one you buy in Manila is that you don’t get the full Batac Empanada experience unless you dip it in a some Ilocos suka (vinegar) before taking a bite. So if you really think about it, it’s kind of like a lumpia. The Batac Empanada is so successful that it has it’s own annual festival.
Media Pillar’s food journey in Ilocos Norte DIDN’T end here! No, indeedy-doody! Hang tight for more Ilocos food posts from this blogging beauty queen!!!
by Joyce Burton Titular