Pampanga is one of the provinces comprising the third region of the Philippines, along with the provinces of Bataan and Zambales, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija and Bulacan. Considered as the first Spanish province in the country, they gave the name Pampanga from the word “pampang” which means river bank.
Besides its natural treasures, Pampanga prides itself as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines because the province is enriched with not only the bst ingredients that provide the peculiarity of its cuisines but it is blessed to have great cooks that continue and also evolve the culture of cooking and dishes in the province. Historically, these cooks were believed to have been trained by the Spaniards during the colonial times. Fortunately, these legendary cooks were able to pass their knowledge and expertise from generations to generations which cooking in the province became famous both here and abroad.
The Rise of Kapampangan Cuisines
Pampanga is known for its culinary arts for a variety of reasons. Best describesd as rich and vibrabt, its cuisines are made with love and effort with a mixture of using local ingredients to achieve fdifferent gourmet treats that await the tastebuds of everyone, especially travelers. It is home of some recipes like sisig and exotic foods like camaru (mole crickets), these dishes are known to originate from Pampanga.
Besides its original cuisines, Pampanga is also known for its various exotic foods which was another legacy left by the Spaniards. Moreover, the rise of these cuisines became the people’s way to survive from various disasters they experienced. The revolts, floods, volcanic eruptions and other disasters the province had paved way for the locals to invent and discover foods from the existing resources such as insects and other creepy creayures to endure extreme hunger and poverty.
Kapampangan Cooking Method
Along with uniqie recipes that stood the test of time, various cooking methods are also discovered to satisfy the available ingredients at that time. As time goes by, these methods are enhanced which gave more tastiness to its cuisines. One of Kapampangan’s oroginal cooking method is the singkutsa.
Singkutsa means parboil,marinate or cooking it halfway. From the concept of avoiding sppilage of food, this method was done especially during occassions like fiesta wherein a lot of dishes have to be cooked. Before the day of the event, the meat needed for the cuisines are being sangkutsa not only to prevent it from spoiling, but to easily cook it the next day, saving a huge time for the preparations.
Another great thing about this method of cooking is that it gives more enhancement to the food because the spices can linger to the meat, producing a tastier and more flavorful recipe.
Some Popular Kapampangan Cuisines
The province of Pampanga has a long list of cuisines that is always waiting to be savored and enjoyed. Read out to know some of these recipes that bring more fame and justified the province being the country’s culinary capital.
This dish is different from the usual Bulanglang Tagalog which is similar to pinakbet. Pampanga’s version can be compared to Sinigang and its only distinction is the usage of guava to produce a sour flavor. Usual vegetables used in sinigang like taro (gabi), onions, tomatoes, okra, kangkong and green chillies are also present along with the prawns, bangus belly or pork. For the best taste, you can also have fish sauce with green chili to dip it.
This is the most famous Pampanga dish ever, but thee discovery of this cuisine came from an accident. This serendipity was done by Lucia “Aling Lucing” Cunanan as she accidentally burned the pork’s face and belly which was supposedly a barbecue. To still use the burned pork, she mixed chopped oniond, chicken liver, spices and calamansi juice and voila, the rise of the first sisig in the province. Who would knew that this accident is now one of the most popular cuisines also in the country, now with evolving versions like tofu, seafood and chicken.
Biringhe or Poor Man’s Paella
Biringhe is Pampanga’s competitor against Spain’s Paella. Bringhe uses either pure glutinous rice (malagkit) only or half of the usual rice and half glutinous rice. Its richness are contributed by its ingredients like the native chicken, coconut milk (gata) and turmeric (luyang dilaw). To adorn this dish, the combining powers of boiled eggs and red peppers are used. This simple dish can still stand out from Paella because its definitely delicious.
Burong Balig and Balo Balo
Some people do not want fermented foods, but burong balig is more than just its smell. What makes this fermented cuisine unique is its main ingredient-mudfish for the buring bulig and shrimp for the balo balo. Another distinction on these two is how the locals usually eat it-the burong bulig is eaten as a main meal while the balo balo is used as a dip for fried, roasted or grilled meat, fish, and vegetables.
Kamaru or Mole Crickets
Another must watch-out in Pampanga is its exotic food, and kamaru is one of them. This dish came from the kamaru or mole crickets, an insect that is natural in the province. These creepy insects are cooked like the style of cooking adobo, but the crickets are deep fried first. For a more thrillled flavor, the locals sometimes use sauce, vinegar, tomatoes, onions and garlic to produce a spicy taste. This cuisine is a must-try and must be put on the to-do list when going to Pampanga.
Betute Tugak or Stuffed Frog
Tugak means frog in Kapampangan and from the name of the dish, it is obvious that the main star is of course, frogs. This cuisine is made from frogs (palakang-bukid) stuffed with groundd beeff that is seasoned well and deep fried. This recipe is another proud exotic food of Pampanga and must be tried as well.
The mentioned dishes are only some of the long list of Kapampangan cuisines that must be explored. These dishes are justified by the numerous restaurants especially in the cities of Angeles and San Fernando, the capital of Pampanga. As stated by its hospitable locals, Tara! Mangan! Manyaman Pamangan kening Pampanga!