Why Everyone Loves Northern Luzon Cuisine
Philippine cuisine is unique to the Filipinos. It ranges from appetizing to savory and exotic. The country, being an archipelago, is divided into three main islands namely Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. You can find almost all the world cuisines in the Philippines—but with a twist. Its taste is made suited to the Filipino palate. Actually, every region in the country has their own version of certain dishes despite having specialties that are unique to their area. But in this article, we will first discuss about the Northern Luzon cuisine, which everyone, locals and foreigners alike, has always loved.
So if you’re planning on food traveling around the country, read on and you will be acquainted to some. Let’s start at the northern part of the country. Northern Luzon cuisine is known for its cooking methods that yield delicious results despite them being very simple.
Must-Try Northern Luzon Cuisine
Scroll down for videos
Here are some famous dishes in the Philippines that originated from Ilocos Region.
Pinakbet is a well-known vegetable dish throughout the archipelago that originated from Ilocos, consisting of mixed vegetables including string beans, bitter melon, eggplant, okra, and squash flavored with bagoong (fermented shrimp). All veggies can easily be obtained from the backyard of every resident while the bagoong is available in all public markets. Learn how to cook this with our pinakbet recipe.
Dinengdeng is another authentic vegetable dish from Ilocos. It’s similar to pinakbet in a sense that it uses several vegetable variants (more than 20 variants, actually), except that it’s soupy and uses fried fish instead of bagoong.
Sinanglao is a soup-based dish made from cow innards and flavored with kamias and bile, boiled for a couple of hours until tender. This dish unique to Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.
Bagnet is a pride of Northern Luzon cuisine. Though originally from Ilocos, this crackling chunk of fried pork is well known throughout the country for its deliciousness. To achieve that blistered golden brown skin, the pork is fried twice for two to three hours. It can be eaten alone, with a dip or mixed with other dishes. Whichever you like it, bagnet is sinfully delicious. You can try your hands on our bagnet recipe.
Being in one of the major agricultural lands situated near a body of water in the country, Pangasinan has an access to a wide variety of products from these natural resources.
This particular rice cake is a regular food item in any market in the country. But the most delicious of all puto is the Calasiao puto from Pangasinan. What makes it special from other puto is it undergoes a fermentation process that lasts for several days.
The place is dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Philippines due to its cool climate. And while you’re there, don’t forget to get these two as pasalubong to your loved ones and friends:
Sundot kulangot literally means picking boogers, but don’t be fooled by its name. The orbs are actually coconut shells and inside it are sticky rice cake or kalamay made by cooking glutinous rice with coconut milk and brown sugar. It’s a popular pasalubong item in Baguio, Bohol, and other parts of the country.
Baguio is also famous for its vast strawberry farm. Vacation in Baguio is not complete without tasting and experiencing strawberry picking.
For food travelers, put Pampanga on top of your bucket list as it’s the Culinary Capital of the Philippines. The title was given to them because only rarely will you find a Kapampangan who doesn’t know how to cook. Thanks to the Spaniards, the citizens of Pampanga learned culinary techniques firsthand from great Spanish cooks and passed down this expertise to their sons and daughter. Their dishes are one of the main reasons Northern Luzon cuisine is well-loved by many.
This popular sweet-salty pork dish is actually a native to the Philippines. And yes, it originated from Pampanga.
Sisig is the result of a failed barbecue recipe by Aling Lucing, a Kapampangan. The pork barbecue was burned. To avoid wastage, she chopped it and mixed it with onion, chili, chicken liver, Calamansi, and other ingredients. Today, sisig is a popular dish in the country with various versions from other regions. One of those versions that many Kapampangan use is grilling and frying the face mask and ears of the Lechon. You can also read our pork sisig recipe here.
Leche Flan (using water buffalo milk)
This sweet treat is easily available anywhere, but what sets Pampanga’s leche flan apart is that it’s richer and creamier because they use water buffalo milk instead of the usual condensed milk. Read our easy-to-make leche flan recipe to learn how to cook one.
Longganisa is the Filipino version of chorizo. It can be made either with beef, chicken, or tuna. Taste varies from each region. Provinces that have their own version of longganisa are Vigan, Lucban, and Pampanga. Pampanga’s version is garlicky sweet.
Marzipan is made of ground almonds, egg whites, and sugar, a delicacy original to Pampanga. Like what Northern Luzon cuisine is known for, marzipan is easy to make.
Another famous Kapampangan dessert is tibok tibok. It’s a rice pudding similar to maja blanca, but instead of regular milk, carabao’s milk is used; and instead of corn/peanut toppings, latik or coconut flakes are used.
The original ensaymada is a type of bread that is soft, rich, not really sweet, topped with queso de bola. It can only be found in Pampanga, although ordinary ensaymada is easily accessible at any bakeshop in the neighborhood.
Another great-tasting Kapampangan delicacy is the bringhe. It’s the local counterpart of arroz caldo. Glutinous rice is cooked in coconut milk, flavored with turmeric powder and other ingredients for that distinct aroma. It is then covered with banana leaves until it’s cooked. It’s a popular dish served during special occasions.