sinanglaw? paksiw? which? sinanglaw-vigan & paksiw-laoag

Sinanglaw? Pinapaitan? Paksiw? Singkutsar? Confusing, really. What's what and which is which? I have the same ordeal identifying or proving what's a real beef sinanglaw and that of beef paksiw (and why it's called paksiw, in the first place). It's kind of complicated, you see. Especially for a non-Ilocos (Norte/Sur) resident like me. I only know by heart pinapaitan because this is what I was introduced, and used, to as an Ilokano in Cagayan Valley (born and raised in Nueva Vizcaya with Ilokano forbears coming from Pangasinan and La Union [migrants], and now residing in the Province of Cagayan). So I begged some Ilocos writer-friends to educate me of/on their exotic delicacies...

Sinanglaw is almost exclusively Ilocos Sur, actually the pride of Vigan City itself. You can find a lot of sinanglawan in almost every Vigan nook and cranny.

While sinanglaw is also available in some eateries in some towns in Ilocos Norte, paksiw is the more, if not the most, popular, especially in Laoag City and in San Nicolas town. Sometimes sinanglaw and paksiw are misnomered in these parts in that if a stranger orders a "sinanglaw" he will be served with a paksiw instead, if not pinapaitan, or singkutsar. (Although when you mention pinapaitan in these parts, it is almost exclusively known only as in pinapaitan a kalding [goat], because goat is the real thing when it comes to pinapaitan, well, for some.)

But these Ilokano beef soup goodies are not really at odds with each other, because they share a lot in common, or have similar ingredients, they only differ in the preparation and of the way they are flavored, and favored, of course. Basically, they've got beef innards/entrails or offal in them, plus the most prized meat cut which is the lomo (tender loin), and the papait or pespes (the bitter "juice" of the partially digested grass in the intestines, also called chyme). Sinanglaw, by the way, is authenticated by the presence of boiled/softened beef skin/hide, or of parts from beef hocks and knuckles.

And so here is Ilocos Norte paksiw:

This is actually what the folks called "nadiguan a paksiw" (or perhaps "naidigo a paksiw"?) because it's paksiw soup poured over a bowl of raw or rare beef tender loin slices. It has none of the innards. The real "paksiw" here is the soup only as it came from the paksiw consisting of boiled intestines, liver, heart, pancreas and tripe, and soured with Ilocos vinegar (cane vinegar, "sukang iloko"), and mildly flavored with pespes

From what I gathered, paksiw in Ilocos Norte (not the "nadiguan" above)--correct me if I'm wrong ,or wronged--is also singkutsar or sinangkutsar (more on and about singkutsar in future blog posts; I have yet to interview some singkutsar afficionados, heh-heh!). And paksiw is called paksiw because of the souring agent diluted in it, as compared to the purely bitter pinapaitan. Yes, it's primarily because of its sourness, of the suka, of course, as paksiw means "cooked with/in vinegar."

And here's the blessed sinanglaw of Ilocos Sur:

This is uncut lump of beef loin (unfortunately this looks like a tough meat, maybe not boiled enough, this is from a sinanglawan besides or across the cathedral), you are given a knife to cut it into your desired bite pieces, or have the vendor cut it out for you. Along with the meat are skin/hide, coagulated blood, some bits of liver and heart, and lungs/pancreas, some tripes. A hint of sourness is there, courtesy of pias (kamias). You can opt to make it more sour and spicy by adding in vinegar with fermented chili.

Here, the sinanglaw, with partner "condiments": the pespes (conveniently bottled), naartem a sili (chili fermented in vinegar), and chopped white onions.

Sinanglaw, now with the meat sliced and with the pespes.

Spiced and "embittered" the sinanglaw is ready.

And here's another sinanglaw from another sinanglawan:

This one is more hearty and bountiful than the other,  at a sinanglawan located right at the second floor of the Vigan public market, as my source have ventured into. "Hearty" because the meat is literally all beef heart, served one piece (a sizable part of the cow's heart boiled just tender enough to be chewy but so subtly soft to chew) and then cut into bite-size by the "server" for you. Plus some liver pieces, some tripe, some skin, and chunks of coagulated beef blood. And those pias slices that sour it all to a truly unique sinanglaw perfection.

And of course, that obligatory pespes to give the soup its true Ilokano flavor and distinct sinanglaw aroma.

You can opt to spice it with fermented chili, or put in more sourness with that sukang iloko to perk up your gastronomic sense and level up some other senses. :-)



  1. yummy! how i wish to try this kind of food too.

  2. Nice one brother Roy! For me, both are good. They are both amazing Ilocano dishes worth of trying.