Monday, November 10, 2014

EMPANADA: The Ilocos’ Original

By: Pauline Saballo

Throughout the world, empanada is known as a bread or pastry filled with different ingredients. This bread originated in Spain and Portugal. This is probably the reason why empanadas are quite similar to tacos. This dish was carried by Portuguese and Spanish colonizers and has remained popular in several countries. The said countries were the Latin America, Indonesia, Philippines and many more. These countries adapted this dish and managed to put their own flavor on empanadas.

Empanadas are actually popular here in our country ever since it was brought by the Spaniards. Empanadas have different varieties all over the Philippines. Despite that, we cannot deny that empanadas are truly the Ilocano’s specialty. The basic Ilocano empanada has grated green papaya, longganisa, egg and bean sprouts stuffed on a rice flour (galapong) crust. Ilocano empanadas surely bring the real Filipino taste on a foreign dish.

In Ilocos, empanadas have basically two kinds just as how this province was divided. One is the Batac empanada which is served in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. The latter is the Vigan empanada, which of course, can be found on Vigan, Ilocos Sur. These empanadas have the same basic ingredients, method of preparation and way of cooking. But how are they really different from each other?

Just looking these two varieties of empanadas from outside, you can already tell one difference, the color. Batac empanada is orange in color because it uses achuete as food coloring. On the other hand, Vigan empanadas are lighter in color since it has no coloring. If you have managed to eat these two emapanadas, you could notice that the Vigan empanada has thinner and crunchier crust than the Batac emapanada. This greatly affects the taste of the empanadas.

Aside from the outer appearance, these emapanadas have some differences in the ingredients. Longganisa is a must ingredient in Ilocano empanadas, right? And these two varieties use different two types of longganisas too. Batac empanada uses Laoag longganisa which is known to be salty. On the latter part, Vigan empanada uses its very own Vigan longganisa as their trademark ingredient. When you try these two empanadas, you would notice that Vigan empanadas do not have bean sprouts unlike the Batac empanadas.

Vinegar is the official dip or sauce of the Ilocano empanadas. Even this is different when you talk about the two types of Ilocano empanadas. Batac empanada uses Laoag vinegar which is really sour and is usually served with siling labuyo in it. Vigan vinegar is of course the official dip for the Vigan empanada. It has a very strong fermented taste which can be similar to fermented alcohol.

There is this one last thing on how these two empanadas are different from each other, their variations. Vigan empanadas only has one variation wherein cabbages where included in the ingredients stuffed. On the other hand, Batac empanada has a lot of variations such as ordinary empanada (with bean sprouts, egg and papaya), special empanada (with additional longganisa), jumbo empanada which has hotdog inside, double special (has egg and has a lot of longganisa in it), and many much more.

Seeing how a foreign dish brought into the Philippines evolved as one of the Filipino delicacies, made me realize how innovative Filipinos are especially when it comes to cooking. These varieties of Ilocano empanadas are just some proofs for that. I can truly say that Filipinos, be it Ilocanos or any Filipino local, has their own way of making everything unique.

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