25 January 2010

Salinity: High

R's plate: salted egg, a relish of onions, tomatoes, and bagoong, seaweed salad, local sitao, and the malaga fish.

One thing that drives me mad about being outside Manila is the salty food. Whereas, native residents may be drinking or eating something that just about cancels the ill effects out, I tend not to know what that is (I tried more water, really), and I end up feeling parched.

Sinigang na malaga with the curiously non-hot local green peppers.

Batac longanisa, a bit sweeter than the one from Paoay, but still loads of vinegar.

Though sometimes they can be overzealous in their use of local salt and bagoong, Ilocanos make dishes that are always top-notch, if you add a bit of water when no one is looking. And besides, very few cuisines in the Philippines can rival small-town Ilocos' freshness and high vegetable ratio.

Pinakbet with local sitao and small sigarillas.

In the larger Laoag market's second floor, the vegetables tend towards Chinese imports (you know, large carrots, cabbage, galic, onions) used in making the ubiquitous, gag-worthy chop suey. However, a short ride away to the smaller markets of Batac and Paoay, and you can find local sitao (two varieties-- the straight, bush sort and the longer one, which is still straighter, smaller and deeper green than what I am used to), rabanos, katuray, and many more of the region's unique produce. I'll be back in a few weeks with a better constitution and more time to poke around, so stay tuned.

Ginisang gulay and a salad of seaweed and tomatoes.

That relish, up front, is the famous KBL or kamatis, bagoong and lasona (local red onions).

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