ilocos empanadas: double double the gastronomic fun!

Empanada is simply a pride of the Ilocos. Be it in Ilocos Norte or Ilocos Sur. And be it Vigan and Laoag, and Batac, all Ilocos cities, for that matter. It's as if it defines what a truly Ilocos popular delicacy or merienda (snack) is all about. Besides even sinanglaw or paksiw or miki.
Empanada-Batac at Glory's Empanada, Batac City, Ilocos Norte.
Especially so in Batac City in Ilocos Norte where an annual Empanada Festival is held to honor the "half-moon orange snack made of rice flour stuffed with longganisa, egg, grated green papaya, parboiled mongo, ground pepper, salt, garlic..."[*] with which Batac folks claim it as their own, their invention, and which is synonymous to their town, their beloved city. So much so that "an Ilocos trip will not be complete without a taste of the famous Ilocandia merienda, the Batac empanada"[*] which is claimed to be the best Ilocos empanada that there was, and is.
A recent Empanada Festival poster in the heart of Batac City, Ilocos Norte.
But then Vigan empanada loyalists tend to disagree, at times, insisting, too, that their own version or invention is the best Ilocos empanada. I am no authority here to present a case and a verdict. Let me, however, cite a blogger who said that he "prefer Vigan Empanada ... because of the ‘thinner’ and ‘crispier’ crust providing better texture and fuller taste" and that "Batac/Laoag Empanada with a thicker crust may make chewing difficult especially when it gets colder because the crust tends to get harder." Ahuh.
Empanada-Vigan, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. (Photo from BlauEarth)
For a closer scrutiny, let's have blogger Ivan Henares' list of differences of the two empanadas:
1. On the crust, the crust of the Batac empanada is orange because of the achuete. The Vigan empanada has no coloring and is thus lighter in color. 
2. The crust of the Vigan empanada is thinner and crunchier. While the crust of the Batac empanada, while crispy as well, is a bit harder the chew. While many people prefer the crunchier Vigan crust, I noticed it retains more oil. 
3. The Batac empanada uses the entire egg. In Vigan, many stalls remove the egg white (this practice maybe had something to do with building churches since egg white was an important building material at that time). 
4. Longaniza types are also different. The Batac empanada uses the saltier Laoag longaniza. While the Vigan empanada uses the vinegar-seasoned longaniza of Vigan. 
5. Many Vigan empanadas do not have bean sprouts, just the grated green papaya. 
6. The differences in vinegar also add distinctiveness to the two varieties. I noticed the Vigan vinegar is very strong with an alcohol-like fermented taste. The Laoag vinegar is really sour and usually has siling labuyo added to it when served in the stalls. I personally prefer the latter. 
7. In Vigan, they still use banana leaves to fold and seal the empanada. In Batac, it's already plastic.
Big deal. So, okey, those were enough pointers to note in mind as I was eager to take a bite on those Ilocos empanadas, especially the Batac one (Laoag empanada is basically the same). The opportunity came when we went to a creative writing workshop held in Currimao, Ilocos Norte and after which on our way home to Cagayan, we dropped by the city of Batac just to feed our curious palate of their gastronomic "pride."

We went straight to thBatac Riverside Empanadaan, a two-storey green building along the bank of a dried up river housing stalls of empanadaan, and found ourselves inside the reputedly most famous of them: Glory's Empanada.
The famous Glory's Empanada in Batac City, Ilocos Norte.
We were confused at first, we weary travelers, because there's an empanadahan right beside Glory's and its name, Glomy's, sounds like the former. We learned later that they serve the same empanadas because Glomy's is actually owned by the daughter of Glory's owner.
Glomy's Empanada, just beside Glory's.
Empanada at Glory's, as is in other empanadaan, is offered in a variety of  fillings. The Special Empanada, at PhP35 contains in its crispy and piping hot achuete-colored rice flour (tapong)dough the basic ingredients of grated green papaya, mung bean sprouts, an egg, a longganisa. But if you're scared of pork fat, there's the PhP30 Ordinary Empanada for you, it has all the basic fillings except the longganisa. There's also Special Eggless (PhP35) and Special Without Monggo (Called "Seedless", PhP40). And what about a Jumbo Empanada, which for PhP50, you'll have an empanada with "jumbo" hotdog? Or a Double Special (PhP45) with two pieces of longganisas? Or a really special Double Egg, which at PhP45, you can have two eggs and a longganisa? And for an extreme culinary experience, try the Double Double Empanada (PhP70) with its two longganisas and two eggs!

Inside Glory's.
Preparing and cooking the empanada while you wait always needs a duo. One kneads the dough mixture into thin taco-like wrappers using an improvised roller. After which he fills and wraps and closes and seals the uncooked empanada. The other will then fry it into the boiling oil, keeping it evenly and perfectly cooked by occasionally flipping the empanadas.

We want to be extremely satisfied of our great empanada quest, so we ordered the Double Double Empanada with its promise of double delight of double longganisas and double eggs...
Proud Cagayanos with their Double Double goodness of Batac's pride.
Served hot and sweating with excess oil, eagerly I immediately took a bite and its crispness cracked in my mouth, my senses attacked by the glorious aroma of garlicky longganisa which steamed out of the breached dough seal. I poured in some cane vinegar with fermented chili into the gaping empanada and bit again, and again, ahhh, the egg and papaya and bean sprouts are just cooked right with some of the egg's yolk still sticky and thick which is so good as it enhanced the flavor and texture. The longganisa is particularly superb, it blended so well with the other ingredients and formed a unique Ilokano fusion that truly identifies and thus manifests empanada as a truly Ilocos' pride (well, not just solely Batac's, you know). We downed our empanadas with gulps of ice-cold soda, finishing the huge Double Doubles in no time and unanimously agreed almost without thinking: "Nagimas a talaga!"

(Empanada-Vigan? That I have yet to fully experience. Of course, I got a taste of it a long time ago, but I think I didn't yet acquire a taste of it. Also, I got no photos to document it, so it's must have to go right to Vigan someday to have a sampling again.)

Right along the wall at Glory's, a tarpaulin poster displays the photo of Gloria Cocson, Empanada-Batac inventor, along with the history on how and why Glory's Empanada came to be.

Gloria Cocson's Gameng Lifetime Award 2008 citation printed in a tarpaulin displayed inside Glory's Empanada in Batac City.
(Read full text of the citation at the Museo Ilocos Norte site)

Me and Kagawad Dexter Fabito with the famous Batac-empanada matriarch. 

Other empanadas all over Ilocos:
Empanada-Laoag at Dap-ayan, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. It's basically the same banana with the Batac variety.

Empanada-Laoag and bowl of hi-bol at Dap-ayan, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte. 

Empanada-Candon with beer, Candon City, Ilocos Sur. Surprisingly, this one can be a clone of Batac empanada. Almost the same fillings, almost the same texture, taste, aroma. And this is in Candon itself, twin city of Vigan.

Empanada-Vigan and ukoy (shrimp fritter/omelette), Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. (Photo from Pinas Muna)

More empanada-Batac photos:

Photo by MeloVillareal

Photo by MeloVillareal



  1. Gimaskan. Ta dobol-dobol ti hanku pay naramanan, makabsog siguro deta nga pirme, next time padasek to man met deta :)

  2. That's a great menu while exploring Ilocos. Thanks for sharing! shitifujon.blogspot.com

  3. Haven't tried this orange empanada yet but curious about its taste since I tried the Vigan empanada already.