Pampanga is known for their rich history and culture, but something that goes beyond their history and culture are famous kapangpangan dishes.
Located in Central Luzon, the reason Pampanga is the Food Capital of the Philippines is because this municipality has produced a bevy of delicious, signature, and legendary dishes that have helped the Philippines demand worldwide respect for their culinary ability.
The following Kapampangan dishes range from famous dishes that are staples in Filipino households and restaurants to exotic dishes that are acquired tastes rare to find. When Kapampangan spend almost 70 percent of their day cooking or in the kitchen, the final product of their food promises to be excellent.
So, whether you are looking to cook dishes from within the comforts of your house and lot or travel all the way to Central Luzon for a food trip, here are a few famous Kapampangan dishes to try cooking and/or eating.
Morcon Kapampangan is an embotido-looking dish with an added twist from the typical Murcon.
Murcon is made with various slices of marinated beef stuffed with sliced boiled eggs, sausages or hotdog, then rolled up to form a cylinder, tied up with thick thread, then, finally simmered until cooked.
The Kapampangan version of Murcon is made from ground pork and beef, chorizo, onions, raisins, eggs, grated cheese, wrapped in pig’s caul fat. Then, it is then steamed or simmered until cooked.
After slicing the cooked murcon, the drippings from the steamer will be poured with the oil. The Murcon tastes best when submerged on its own fat. For extra flavor and aroma, you can add pimiento, which will make the Murcon pungent and even more delicious.
Betutetagak (Stuffed Frog)
Eating stuffed frogs may turn you off from the sole fact that it is made of frogs, but you will be surprised with how delicious this dish is.
“Betute” is a play on the word “Butete” while “Tagak” is Kapampangan for the word, tadpole. Combine the two, you get Betute Tagak, a Betute frog stuffed with any type of ground meat. The usual stuffing is ground frog meat, ground pork, or ground chicken, though some experiment with ground shrimp. It is then heavily seasoned then deep fried.
It is normal to question how healthy eating a frog is but since these frogs were raised in a farm, rest assured that the frogs are clean, healthy, and delicious. In addition to this, it is loaded with numerous vitamins and a high source of protein.
Do not be surprised to think you are eating chicken, when it is Betute tagak.
PindangKalabaw (Water buffalo tocino)
Tocino is widely popular all around the Philippines. It is sweetened and cured pork belly meat and usually eaten in breakfast as Tocilog, a portmanteau of Tocino, garlic rice (sinangag), and egg (itlog).
But what sets Pampanga’s Tocino from the rest of the Philippines is their cooking method and the use of other meats.
Pindang Kalabaw is Tocino made from Water Buffalo or carabeef, which when compared to domestic beef is lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol but higher in protein and minerals.
It is cooked in enough water to cover the meat followed by oil when the water dissipates. It is cooked until the meat is reddish brown.
When paired with sukang sasa, a popular type of vinegar in Pampanga, you have a match made in heaven.
AdobongKamaru (Mole Cricket)
Out of the many exotic Kapampangan dishes, this dish is not for the faint of heart.
AdobongKamaruis one of the best culinary traditions in Pampanga. You get the usual Adobo, onions, garlic, soy sauce, and vinegar, but instead of meat, you use Kamaru, or Mole Cricket.
Before you fret, it is scientifically proven that this insect is safe for human consumption, but to make it easier to eat, you must remove the harder outer wings and legs before eating these creepy crawlers because they are a bit tough.
For other characteristics about Mole Crickets, they are the best protein source among bugs and are not toxic in any way. They are also completely harmless indoors, as they cannot bite or sting, and they do not feed on fabric, paper or house structures.
You can eat this with rice and tomatoes or grab a beer with friends willing to eat something exotic as a pulutan.
If Spain has Paella, Pampanga has Bringhe, which originated from the northen areas of Pampanga and is a Filipino indigenization of Paella. This is how the two differ.
Paella is made with Bomba or Arborio rice and flavored with Saffron. On the other hand, Brighe is a rice dish made with glutinous rice, chicken, chorizo de bilbao, vegetables, luyang dilaw (turmeric), and gata (coconut milk).
The dish is topped with carrots, bell peppers, and boiled eggs. On some occasions, Bringhe is topped with scallions, raisins, and pieces of chicken leg.
Though it takes long to cook, around an hour including prep time, it does serve a lot, all in one pot. It is no surprise that this famous Kapampangan dish is a staple in big parties.
Bulanglang Kapampangan (Guava Sour Soup)
You can trace Bulanglang’s origins to Batangas, which is a vegetable stew where the soup base is the water used to rinse the rice when steaming eaten with bagoong.
However, when you traverse up north to Pampanga in Central Luzon, Bulanglang takes a whole new meaning. It it essentially Sinigang na bayabas.
Typical Sinigang uses tamarind as the souring agent of the soup. But, for Bulanglang Kapampangan, the souring agent is now native guava. To add further, Sinigang is eaten on its own while Bulanglang Kapampangan is eaten with bagoong.
On the other hand, like Sinigang, Bulanglang’s main protein source is ulang (prawns), pork, or milkfish belly.
The other ingredients to round out the dish are a plethora of vegetables like Kangkong (water spinach), okra, gabi or taro, spinach leaves, eggplant. Tomatoes are an essential ingredient because it helps add sourness to the dish.
Though not required, it is highly recommended to find something to add some heat to the dish.
Lucia Cunanan is credited for the reinvention of the Sisig that Filipinos love and crave today. “Aling Lucing” grilled the pig’s ears and cheeks en route to the Department of Tourism acknowledging her Sisig and her restaurant as the one’s responsible for establishing Angeles City, Pampanga as the “Sisig Capital of the Philippines.”
The Sisig Queen’s trademark Sisig was developed in 1974 when she served grilled and chopped pig ears and cheeks seasoned with vinegar, calamansi juice, chopped onions and chicken liver and served in hot plates. The hot plates help the pig ears and cheeks become super crispy and super yummy.
In the present, Sisig is one of the most famous Kapampangan dishes, with its popularity extending past the Philippines. It can be eaten in literally any time of day on any occasion, from Breakfast to start a busy day, or pulutan when drinking with friends.
Lutong Bahay or Food Trip?
With all the Kapampangan dishes listed above, there is no doubt that these dishes are delicious enough to either get you out of your house and lot and go food tripping or stay at home and concoct something special for you and your family.
Written by Cholo Hermoso