The Cordilleran palate is not difficult to please. Most Cordillera food recipes are simple with minimal ingredients and preparation. Mostly plain, but definitely delicious.
Here is a list of some of the exotic foods the Igorots often prepare:
Etag is pork meat preserved by covering it with salt then drying it under the sun or smoking it in dirty kitchens. Etag is usually added to pinikpikan and legume dishes.
The preparation of this well-loved dish is not rocket science. You just need a chicken prepped through beating the chicken's wing and neck through a stick (thus pinikpikan, from the local term pikpik which means beat) and then torching. Now some prefer to just slit the throat instead of beating it. The torching part is important because you don't get a similar taste if you use dressed chicken.
The chicken then gets boiled to tenderness, flavored with onions, ginger, and salt. Etag (salted, dried pork) and sayote fruit are also added.
Its aromatic smell, savory soup, and tender meat make it a favorite dish for special occasions. If you visit someone in the province, they will often welcome you with pinikpikan.
Pro-tip- It is best eaten with bare hands and with chili peppers to dip with. Yum!
Tapey or tapuy is also called Igorot rice wine. It is traditionally served to visitors or used for cooking. It is also feasted upon during special occasions.
The only ingredients in making the tapey are rice yeast "bubod" and red glutinous rice. The glutinous rice is cooked with lesser water and removed from the fire when it is half cooked. The rice is spread evenly over clean banana leaves or bigao (flat woven basket) to cool off.
The yeast is ground finely and mixed evenly with the rice. After that, the mixture is placed in a tightly sealed jar and opened after 1 week.
4. Inanger (Boiled)
Inanger is a method of cooking which means boiled. Ingredients are simply placed on a pot with water; the toughest ingredients go first until all the ingredients are on the pot. The dish is cooked if everything is tender.
Almost everything can be cooked using this method. Pigs toes mixed with white, black, or red beans are all-time favorites.
This is the Cordilleran's version of sausage; except that the contents and covering are different. Pinuneg is a mixture of pig blood and spices wrapped in a clean and empty pig's large intestines. It is then boiled for 30-35 minutes.
The pig large intestines have lots of uses in the Igorot household. Aside from pinuneg, the large intestines are also cooked as bungsos.
It is prepared by removing the contents of the intestines then thoroughly washing it. After it has been cleaned, it is mashed with salt and set aside for 3-5 days in a container with a covered lid.
After 3-5 days, it is cooked by boiling. It will surely fill the house with a smell like no other but is palatable. It has a tender, melts in your mouth texture and has a savory taste.
The bungsos is usually a part of wedding traditions in some parts of Mountain Province. The large intestines of the pig butchered during the wedding are prepped for bungsos. When it is cooked after 3 days, the elderly men and the couple will gather to eat it.
7. Boiled Camote
I feel like I should include this because my grandfather swears his strength by it. It is also usually part of the sermons of our old folks, "Idi dakami camote ti kankanen mi isunga blah blah blah".
The flesh is boiled and eaten as is after. No sugar, no margarine, until we came and couldn't eat the mighty camote without adding margarine and sugar.
8. Goby fish (wadding)
The goby fish is commonly found in rivers and creeks within the Cordillera. It is cooked with vinegar or tapey.
Aside from Cordilleran homes, you can also taste these native staples in some restaurants in the Cordilleras.
Which among these Igorot dishes is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section!
About the author: This article (revised) was shared exclusively by our friend Donnabeth Tolano-Aniban with the Igorotage team. Donnabeth is a licensed Filipino nurse and a former teacher. She now works as an academic writer and also writes on Medium. Her work has been featured in Her View From Home and When In Manila. You can get her book "50 Ideas For A Great Life" on Shopee.