Quick Bites: Ilocos Empanada

You cannot visit Ilocos and not try their version of the empanada. You simply can’t. Yes, Ilocos empanada can be bought here in Manila but nothing quite beats the experience of raiding the streets of Ilocos in search of this specialty, watching how the locals cook it, and trying it right there in the middle of the hot and humid street. That first bite, which must come after pouring sukang Iloko into your empanada, is sure to be memorable!

They say empanadas vary throughout Ilocos: Laoag, Batac, and Vigan have the most popular versions. I was not able to try one in Vigan, but those that I ate from Laoag and Batac looked pretty much the same to me. Both were made of grated papaya, mung beans, and egg—then wrapped in rice flour and finally, deep-fried. Stuffing with longganisa is optional—and perhaps what spells the difference is the type of longganisa used.

What stuck to my mind (until now) is this empanada I tried in downtown Laoag, from a store called JVM Sweet Empanada. It was perfectly cooked—not overdone, not flaky nor dry. The stuffing is slightly sweet, which is complemented by the remarkable vinegar, which I wanted to drink on-the-rocks straight up. The egg, having been fried, comes out in shreds as you bite into the empanada. I loved it!

The stall was messy, and it looked dirty enough to convince me that they sell a kick-ass empanada (if you know what I mean). I forced asked Manang to let me enter and watch her cook, so I saw all the steps from dough preparation, to assembly, and then to frying.

It’s a pretty filling meriendaa complete meal even, I might say. Perfect to munch on while on the road, on the way to the next tourist spot you plan on visiting. Just be ready for the massive oil spills all over your hand! Yes, nothing worth having comes easy, haha! And at PhP35 (with longganisa), it’s pretty cheap too!

In case you want to try making your own Ilocos empanada at home, I found a cool recipe from PinoyRecipe.net. Honestly, I haven’t tried it, but it looks pretty legit to me—after all, I watched Manang make one back in Ilocos. Let me know if the finished product tastes exactly like the ones from Laoag—or if it even comes close! One of these days—if I overcome laziness—I’m gonna try it too and I promise to update you!

Otherwise, you can assail the shops of Farinas Ilocos Empanada in Manila to satisfy that craving. Or hey, why not plan a trip up North and experience “the real thing”?


Don’t miss any of these posts in the Ilocos 2014 series:


JVM Sweet Empanada
Brgy. 11, Paco Roman Street, Laoag City

Do you like Ilocos empanada? Is it comparable to the ones being sold in Manila?

pepe samson

About Pepe Samson

This is a short description in the author block about the author. You edit it by entering text in the "Biographical Info" field in the user admin panel.
    Disqus Comment
    Facebook Comment


Post a Comment

Let me know what you think!