Exotic and Unusual Names of Food in Vigan

I’m a Full-Blooded Ilocana or commonly called by fellow Ilocanos as FBI. I grew up with a clan who loves eating Ilocano and exotic dishes. My grandfather or lolo exposed his children and grandchildren to different kind of unusual food and taught us not to be a picky-eater. He showed us that being adventurous is an image of being strong. My lolo's teaching, in regards with the food, is one of the reasons why I like cooking and exploring other different food. He is one of the reasons why I like to become a Chef.

My lolo loves exotic foods. He is the kind of person who loves eating raw beef meat with raw egg marinated in vinegar and kikoman. It is his version of Ata-ata. Ata-ata is a kinilaw na papaitan. The simplest way that I can describe this, is the Ilocano version of Beef Tartare. Yes, I know it is kind of disgusting, but when I tried it, I became one of Lolo’s “kaagaw” of his Ata-ata.

Aside from Ata-ata, Lolo also eats fried Abal-abal or beetle and fried ar-arawan or cricket. Abal-abal and Ar-arawan are very seasonal. It is only available during rainy season. Shockingly, it is also available in the market but we chose not. We want to catch our own insects. When we were still kids, my cousins and I would catch Abal-abal right after sunset then give it to the Cook to fry it for our dinner then we share it with Lolo.  Other than eating the Abal-abal, Lolo also showed as a trick on how to play with the insect using a thread as a leash for the Abal-abal.

Ar-arawan is what I like most rather than the Abal-abal. Both insects taste like fried adobo, but Ar-arawan has a milder smell and taste compared to Abal-abal. My Titos would usually eat this as their pulutan during their “A spur of the moment” drinking session. My relatives eat it without any sauce. My style in eating this kind of food is with rice and sukang Iloco which is very “Naimas” (delicious in Ilocano) for me.

In Ilocos, there are some dishes that sounds weird or unusual for the Metro Manilans. Of course, they are foreign to these kinds of food that is why they sound unusual and funny. Sharing these food will make you more familiar before going or going back to Ilocos.

Here are some food in vigan with unusual names:

Ar-arosip is a fresh seaweed salad. This food looks like small grapes. This is fun to eat because it is soft but it is crunchy to bite. You can still feel the pulp popping and excriting juice inside your mouth. Ilocano don’t need to add salt because its salty taste is natural. They just add tomato and onions to balance the saltiness of the Ar-arosip

Chicken Karimbuaya

If you are not familiar with this food, maybe the first thing that you will think of is a crocodile. If you want to play more with your imagination you may think of a grilled crocodile stuffed with chicken. 

For your information, Karimbuaya is actually a plant. Karimbuaya is a mature leaf of young Euphorbia plant that was sliced thinly and was used by the Ilocanos to stuff it with Lechon. Karimbuaya adds aroma and a sour salty taste to the meat.

Ginisar nga Ipon
Ipon is ilocano term for fingerling or baby fish. Ipon is only available during the fullmoon of “Ber”-months. Many Ilocano would go to market to buy Ipon when it is inseason. They are willing to buy this even if it is worth 600 per kilo. Ipon is expensivebecause it is not easy to catch small fish. 

Insarabasab or Sarabasab
Insarabasab or Sarabasab is the term for the Ilocanos of roasting pig’s meat in an open fire. Sarabasab is the traditional way of cooking meat in Ilocos. . After the meat is being roasted Ilocano just add salt and pepper and topped it with tomatoes and onion to add flavor. Some say that this is an Ilocano version of Sisig.

Poqui-poqui (Poki Poki)
The name of this food is actually 2x bastos in Tagalog. For Tagalogs it means female reproductive organ. The main ingredients for this food are eggplant and egg. It is even funnier right?

This food can be eaten breakfast, lunch or dinner. This recipe is not easy to cook though. Before sautéing the eggplant with scrambled egg, tomato and onion, you have to roast it with an open fire until the skin of the eggplant turns to black. After roasting it, peel off the skin and then chop it. It is kind of hard and messy to cook Poqui-poqui but it is all worth it because you’ll be very satisfied at end.
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  1. Sarap naman niyang mga yan. Ang layo naman ng ilocos kasi.

  2. Where are these? South or north of the Philippines? I have tasted one of those from Manila. Relatives of my wife cooked the poqui one. They were laughing but I do not know why. I searched for the reason but failed at getting any.

  3. Olalalalalalam... in ilocano, these are called sidaen. learned from it last week.

  4. Lou-Ann from ViganAugust 29, 2015 at 6:24 PM

    mabisin nak met laeng