Experience Apayao’s rich cuisine

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


FOR the past 19 years, the young province of Apayao continues to flourish since its separation from Kalinga boasting its own collection of natural wonders not commonly found in the Cordilleras.

In fact, the province has been dubbed as “Cordillera’s Last Frontier for Nature Richness” as underground rivers, majestic waterfalls, magnificent lakes hug a unique land replete with captivating caves, picture-pretty parks, and exotic wildlife.

Aside from its magnificent wonders, Apayao also brags of rich culinary tradition that will leave everyone’s palate asking for more.

As part of its founding anniversary, Apayao home cooks took part in a cookfest re-introducing the province as one of Cordillera’s native culinary destinations with their delectable and flavorful cooking.

Take for example Apayao’s version of pinikpikan, a soup dish which consists of burned chicken mixed with etag.

Instead of using native chicken, just like their neighboring Kaling province, I-Apayao’s find better taste with native ducks which according to some homegrown cooks are tastier and give stronger soupy taste.

Another innovation is the dinuguan, or locally known as Zinagan which is a traditional Kalinga cuisine but the I-Apayao’s have also adopted it as theirs considering their connection for the longest time.

The dish consists of intestines and other pork innards that are fried until it becomes crispy enough just like chicharon before sauted with garlic, onions, ginger and pork blood.

Both well loved dishes however are better served with the province’s three well know cuisines, the sinursur, pinaltit, and sagket.

Sinursur is a native course cooked in a young bamboo shoot. In the duration of its cooking, it is smashed with a stick to crush the contents until it is entirely squashed. It is either mixed with Atang (gabi leaves and stalk), Tuka’ (frog), Iwat (eel), Palilang (gobi) , Tangingi (Bean pods) and other combinations relished with plenty of sili that rouses the heat that interests one to take a dose.

This dish is usually served in anyone’s home enjoyed by the whole family.

Pinaltit, meanwhile is an appetizer consisting of ground pork cooked with coconut milk and garnished with plenty of chili powder and thin strips of pomelo leaves. This is a usual meal course in an Isnag’s daily menu.

Sagket on the other hand is the native bagoong (fish sauce) of the people of Apayao. It is usually prepared from a fish called Palilang, a local specie of Goby. It is preserved for three days or more for a more savoring and aroma which is eventually cooked with plenty of sili together with selected vegetables. This symbolizes gallantry and bravery of the people of Apayao.

The Binungor, another popular Kalinga dish is also making its way to every I-Apayao’s dining table, is an exotic dish of stir-fried snails eaten with bamboo shoots and siling labuyo.

It is not for everyone, but if you want to try authentic Kalinga delicacy, binungor is the perfect thing to order.

Agurong a common black freshwater mollusk with elongated spiral shell usually found in abundance in creeks and rivers are often cooked with coconut milk and lowland vegetables are among the popular native dishes of the province.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 27, 2014.

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