location: Hills Spa Los Banos, Laguna
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Laguna Food Fetival 2009
location: Hills Spa Los Banos, Laguna
Los Banos started as one of the many settlements of the town of Bay in southern Luzon. It was then called Mainit because of the hot springs coming from Mt. Makiling, a dormant volcano, which is located within its proximity. These springs, which were said to have curative effects, attracted the Spaniards especially the Franciscan friars. In 1589, Fr. Pedro Baustista established public baths and renamed the place Los Baños which means bathing places in Spanish. When one hears the word LAGUNA... the first things that would enter in your minds would be... KESONG PUTI ( from Santa Cruz ), fresh BUKO PIE to take home as paslubong and Mount Makiling. But has anyone ever tasted LAGUNA style cooking??? Since May is known as Heritage Month in the Philippines... I was able to attend an event that was sponsored by the Filipino Heritage Festival, Inc., National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Department of Tourism and the Senior Citizens Federation of Los Banos Laguna. It was the Food Heritage Cooking contest of Los Banos, Laguna. The contestants had to prepare dishes that was typical of the province or town.The criteria for this event were the usage of indigenous / cookery methods, Must have profit potential and they have to use nutricious ingredients.... and NO MSG!!! They had 3 dishes that were coconut based ( guinataang hipon, labong and the binagoongang dalag ). What i noticed is that they would use calamansi instead of vinegar ( in the ampalaya salad ) and instead of sampaloc for sinigang again calamansi was used to make the broth sour... another ingredient that was very noticeable was the usuage of the malunggay or saluyot leaves in their cooking.
The winners were: 1st Place - Tortang Tulya - minced clams sauteed with saluyot and malunggay leaves, kinchay, spring onions and tokwa. Then each pattie is dipped into egg-cornstarch mixture and fried till done. 2nd Place - Sinigang na Carpa with gulay - cooked the same way as how we cooked our sinigang, but calamansi was used to make the broth sour, and the fish they used was CARPA... a fish that is found in the Laguna Bay. and the 3rd Place - Binagoongang Dalag - same proceedure as how they cook the binagoonang baboy but they used DALAG ( another fish that is found in Laguna Bay ).
Other recipes that joined were: RELLENONG SILI - they used small peppers stuffed with ground pork, minced onions and diced tomatoes. AMPALAYA SALAD- they used calamansi instead of vinegar, Buko pancit - they used grated young coconut instead of noodles, GUINATAANG HIPON- they used small fresh water shrimps cooked in coconut milk. I was able to taste a better version of this a long time ago from a friend of mine who is from Pila ( another town in Laguna ). KULALO TALONG- charcoal grilled eggplant grilled then mashed mixed with roasted coconut ( niyog ), coconut milk extract ( kakang gata ) and chili peppers. Just trying to jot down the ingredients of this recipe i thought it was the hardest to do unlike the others. The lady who cooked it told me that after you have grilled the eggplant , you set it aside... the meat of the crated coconut you will wrap it in a foil then ... get some charcoal and put it on the HUSK of the coconut... and then put the wrapped coconut meat on top to ROAST it. After it is done... you will then get the roasted coconut and extract the coconut milk by squeezing the extract thru cheesecloth. After all these are prepared , the coconut extract together with the mashed eggplant is now mixed with other ingredients like minced onions and chili peppers... an added twist was using calamansi ( instead of vinegar) to get the sour taste. The finish product??? it tasted like the sidings we have when we cook Pochero. It didn't look appealling to the eyes but it tasted good! SAGIPIG SA BANGA- their version of guinumis. Next time when you travel south... and pass Los Banos... why not stop and try to taste some of the dishes i mentioned... cooked the LAGUNA way..... HAPPY EATING!!!