dinengdeng, glorious dinengdeng!

I'm a typical Ilokano who can't live without dinengdeng, come share my passion...

various authentic, exotic, ilokano pinakbets

Concoction or variations of this kind of exotic Ilokano dish, of this ever ubiquitous vegetable stew...

sinanglaw? paksiw? which?

What do you prefer, Vigan-sinanglaw or Laoag-paksiw? What about pinapaitan and singkutsar?

unnok/ginukan, freshwater shellfish

Want some unnok soup or ginukan bugguong?

baradibud a tugi, lesser yam vegetable stew

Tugi, for some, is only meant to be boiled and eaten simply as is. But for me, it's an indispensable ingredient for yet another hearty Ilokano dish...


kaggo & karibuyo

Kaggo & karibuyo soup.
Kaggo is a big clam found in brackish and muddy waters in Cagayan, where rivers or swamps meet with the sea or sea water, usually under or along nipa trees. Also called kappo in other places, it is the same as the lukan of the Tagalogs. But they're more abundant and popular on the notherrn Cagayan towns along the coast, like Sanchez Mira, Pamplona, Abulug, Ballesteros, Aparri, Buguey and Sta. Teresita. Karibuyo is a sea clam gathered along the seashore of same coastal towns including Claveria, Gonzaga and Sta. Ana.

Kaggo can be made into a savory soup or stew, boiled/blanched, grilled, or simply into a kilawen or eaten raw right from the shell dipped in calamansi juice just like that of oysters. Its meat shucked, it's perfect as a sagpaw (add-on) to your dinengdeng or pinakbet or as a topping in pancit dishes like bijon or canton or other seafood dishes.

Karibuyo is so good as a soup, its broth is so tasty with the karibuyo's great juicy meat. It can also be consumed raw, the meat and "juice" mildly salty like that of gakka (tiny sea clams consumed as a saramsam or snacks just like watermelon seeds) shells.

Karibuyo for sale at the municipal fish port in Sta. Teresita, Cagayan.

Kaggo being grilled.

Shucked grilled kaggo in Villa, Sta. Teresita, Cagayan.

Slightly boiled kaggo, ready to be shucked for my kaggo "salad." If you prefer to boil kaggo, don't overcooked it to retain the "fatness" and succulence of the meat. Just boil it mildly just so it shells cracks slightly for you to break it open. Save its naturally salty "juice" as a broth.

Slightly boiled kaggo meat with its own juice as a little broth. I seasoned it with some salt, garnished with onions and ginger, and soured it with calamansi.

The karibuyo, I made into a kind of tinola. I sauteed onions, garlic, ginger and tomatoes in little oil, and boiled it with some pieces of chayote, and then the karibuyo shells. Don't overcook the karibuyo. Just put it in when the broth is boiling. Simmer quickly and put off fire immediately and serve hot when the shells are open.

Enjoy tinola a karibuyo. The soup is so good, the meat is just so tasty.

I reserved some of the kaggo "salad" and tinola a karibuyo for what a "lethal" ("pamatay" he-he!) dish that I'm planning for the next day. And here's it, I made it into a combo kaggo and karibuyo soup: I mixed all the meat of the shells and their soup/broth and made it into one great clam soup with petchay (I just browned/caramelized some garlic and onions, poured the soup and boiled it and then I put in the petchay stalks and leaves, and then the kaggo & karibuyo meat):

What a bliss!



a feast of ilokano food exotica...

Of course, there's still a sort of exotica when it comes to Ilokano food, whatever being exotic means. And although these are common fares specially in the away or in the barrios/farming communities, it becomes a rare delicacy or exotic even, when these are featured for all the uninitiated world to see, taste,  or simply to be squeamish. And usually, it's being showcased during so-called festivals, like the recent Gameng Festival in Solsona, Ilocos Norte, an annual celebration which aims "to strengthen Solsona’s culture, promote its cultural products and designs and preserve and conserve its historical and cultural treasure and resources."

Our friend writer-journalist Leilanie Adriano of the Ilocos Times, has exclusively covered the festival, especially the food portion, and shared us these mouth-watering photographs to feast on (click on the photos for a larger view):

Eating insects is not really unusual because Ilokanos are used to beetles, grubs, crickets, and other edible bugs. And of course, ants! And this is kinda extreme--this is abuos (red ants) ukoy or fritter. I myself didn't yet try this one, and I wish I could have one soon!

Sauteed abuos eggs and pupae (with some juvenile ants in it, anyway), well, this is a milder abuos delicacy, I think. I love this one! [See a previous blog post about red ant's egg]

Ballaiba salad. [See a previous blog post about ballaiba]

Tabtaba (also called bakbakasi and barbaradio) salad. [See a previous blog post about tabtaba]

Ensalada nga aba. I miss and missed this one, really. Besides dinengdeng nga aba, we used to just boil aba stalks back in Nueva Vizcaya and garnish it simply with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona) like this. I have yet to see anything like this here in Cagayan. Will try it soon! [See a previous blog post about dinengdeng nga aba]

Kinirog nga ararawan. Fried mole cricket. I haven't had the opportunity to have a taste of this for three decades! Ararawan is a rarity these days! [See a previous blog post about ararawan]

And this! Birabid! This used to be a usual farmer's innapuy pair when I was a child when birabid's still abundant. It's almost extinct nowadays it really became a true exotica! I haven't seen this in 4 billion years!

Dinengdeng a bisukol! But of the Taiwanese variety, though. What I miss are the native ones--the black shelled ones I used to pick in the fields as a small child. Like the birabid, black bisukol is extremely rare.

Adobo a bisukol. Perfect pulotan!

Dinengdeng nga agurong. [See a previous blog post about agurong cooked in coconut milk]

Pakbet a saluyot. [See a previous blog post about  pakbet a saluyot]

Dinakdakan a pakak! Boiled pakak and prepared/seasoned like a pork dinakdakan. [See previous post about dinakdakan]

Marunggay flowers salad (with tender leaves). [See a previous blog post about dinengdeng a marunggay]

Ilokano vegetable salad medley: marunggay blossoms and leaves, sabunganay (banana heart/blossom), and bunga ti rabanos (white radish fruit). [See a previous blog post about susop or sabunganay]

Adobo a tukak! Missed this! [See a previous blog post about tukak]

Tukak barbecue.

Nilingta a kuskusleng. Of the bunog (freshwater goby/mullet) family.

Nailingta a palileng! Now, I can't help but to just imagine the last time I got lucky to partake fat palilengs, that was perhaps about 10 years ago in Gonzaga, Cagayan. Palileng is a tasty freshwater fish, it's so rare, and of course expensive, nowadays.

Still of the goby/mullet family, this is called ilek and which we generally label as bunog.

Nilingta a bukto. Bukto or birut, also commonly called as bunog. [See a previous blog post about bukto/birut/bunog]

Inasar a native a paltat! [See a previous blog post about native paltat]

Tinenneb a dalag (attasi, buntiek). [See a previous blog post about dalag]

Tinola a native a manok.

Dinardaraan a pato.

What a feast!



red/purple katuday

Nalabbasit a katuday.
It's February. And it's 14th. Supposedly a lovers' day for all. It's also flowers and chocolate's day, you can't imagine how many tons of cut flowers and chocolate bars may have been gifted upon and consumed on this single day of the year...

And to join the grand celebration of romance, I have here a heap of red flowers for you. Actually purple. And this is edible, mind you. This is a variety of katuday. What more could you wish for, beautiful red flowers and it's edible, too! We'll make a dinengdeng or a salad out of it to make it the more enjoyable, delightful, delicious! Naimas, naim-imas!

Let's enjoy the beauty of the blossoms first, before we subject it into a dissection to prepare it for cooking (click on the photos for a larger view):

For this dinengdeng, the purple katuday will be paired with crisp pallangs. I added camote cubes (not shown) to sweeten and starch the broth, thus making it a kind of buridibod.

Luckily, I've got some grilled tilapia as an "al-alia" (sagpaw, add-on) for my dinengdeng. I boiled it first in the simmering bugguong broth:

And it's done! It's just so unfortunate that the purple katuday lost its fabulous color and texture when it's cooked/wilted--it turned into an unsightly bluish black, much to my consternation, arrgggh! But anyway, the dinengdeng is so promising as you can see--the same bittersweet katuday flavor enhanced by the starchy sweet potato and the crispy and still green pallang:

The rest of the red blossoms, I made into a salad with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona):

That's it. But I just can't get away with the royal color of this katuday, so let's have them in its majestic splendor yet again: