October 2007


 We call them paho.  Guimaras claims to have the sweetest mangoes in the world.  But Iloilo mangoes particularly those from the town of Leon are not to be left behind. They are also matam-is (sweet).    Soon, it will be mango season again. 



What you’ll see in a typical Iloilo market.  Iloveiloilo welcomes another great Ilonggo photographer, Mr. Monet Ramirez, who gladly shared this and many more luscious photos of Iloilo food.


In the next several weeks, you will see posted on Iloveiloilo interesting blog entries from young people.  As I said in my welcome page, I don’t have the monopoly of info on Iloilo and its culture.  Besides, it’s impossible to cover everything.  There are so many aspects of Iloilo’s art, culture and heritage that are just waiting to be written about. 

 Many may know how to write straight sentences but not very many know how to conduct honest-to-goodness research and write with credibility.   I’m talking about many students and even professionals too who resort to the cut-and-paste type of researches.  Plagiarism in other words.  I’m very proud to say that the upcoming entries here from my invited students are products of their hard labor. (Amazing guys!).  The entries may not be of Palanca quality but I tell you, they’ve discovered many amazing info hidden from common knowledge.

For instance…

*  The unique oven for the Iloilo bibingka

*  Fine quality salt produced on bamboo nodes

*  An Ilonggo ice cream maker inventor

*  Traditional and modern clay stoves of Jibao-an Pavia

*  Recipes for KBL and Utan nga Tambo

*  The luwag and the sadok…

Those are just a few; there’s plenty in the storehouse.  Of course, I’m also concerned that these entries might be “stolen” by unscrupulous individuals–people who are too lazy to conduct their own research having no respect at all for what other people have worked so hard on.  On the other hand, I’m also thinking of the greater number of good people in the world interested in Ilonggo culture.  By making these numerous information available on the internet, the richness of Iloilo culture will just be a click away.

I promised a reader I’d post a recipe of an Ilonggo icon —INASAL NGA MANOK  or chicken barbeque.  But having lived in Bacolod for more than ten years (was born there, so am Negrense as well) before finally settling in Iloilo, I have come to discover a difference between the timplada (flavor/taste) between the two inasal.

Bacolod Inasal has a slightly sour base (aslum) while the Iloilo Inasal is sweet (tam-is).

Now, that made me wonder:  shouldn’t be the Bacolod inasal the sweeter of the two–with all the sugar in the province?  Perhaps you have a theory about this.  Come and share it with iloveiloilo.

Anyway, the secret of Bacolod inasal is  dalisay nga langgaw or pure coconut vinegar.  I’ll check first with my brother for the specific spices that go into the Bacolod inasal.  But definitely, it has to be colored by istiwitis or annatto seeds .  (check out our entry on istiwitis).

How about the Iloilo Inasal?  I have tasted a variety of inasal all over Iloilo and apparently, Ilonggo tastebuds prefer it sweet and even tocino-like.  This is the kind of chicken barbeque served at the now popular Mang Inasal, a chicken place with a fastfood approach to service.  This is also the similar flavor of inasal on carts.   There are exceptions however.  The roadside inasal at Valeria extension borders on the aslum or sour version.  The inasal at Valeria is special because its not the “45 days” (the white leghorn) but the Bisaya nga manok or native variety.  If you are into organic stuff, this one is for you.

Here is a basic CHICKEN INASAL RECIPE – Ilonggo style

Actually, the recipe varies from vendor to vendor, resto to resto.  Find your best combination.

Wait!  To be truly authentic, you must learn how to slice your chicken into the right inasal cuts and skewer them on bamboo sticks perfectly.  (A student of mine did a feature on these bamboo sticks.  Very interesting.  Await the post).

You will need:

* sea salt (we Ilonggos, just like other Filipinos, don’t measure like the westerners do.  Tantya-tantya lang (just estimate).  Taste the marinade for the saltiness).

* garlic, crushed well

* sugar, brown or white will do (taste the marinade, when its sweet, that’s it)

* a bottle of Sprite or 7-up

* soy sauce (some use this sparingly; others don’t include it at all)

* black pepper  (optional)

* vetsin or monosodium glutamate  (personally, i have banned it from all my cooking but since we’re talking about the typical inasal recipe in Iloilo, well, I should say, Ilonggos in general like putting vetsin into their cooking)

* 2-3 pieces calamansi (optional too or it will border on the Bacolod version)

* just a little langgaw or vinegar (some manug-inasal put this to preserve the meat, in case it will have to stay longer on the shelf)

* about a kilo of chicken (that’s 4 basic cuts–2  pecho (breast + wing) & 2 paa (leg+ thigh) and the remaining parts)

Well, I guess that’s about it.  Mix everything in a deep bowl and let stand for  20 minutes or more.  Then, you’re ready to tuhog (to skewer) them on thick bamboo sticks and sugba (grill) over charcoal.

Ilonggo inasal is not complete without the banyos (the basting sauce if you may call it).  Some use the marinade alone.  Others add banana catsup and cooking oil to it.    Others extract the color from istiwitis and add this to the marinade.  Others cook a tablespoon or two of istiwitis in cooking oil.  Experiment on your best combination.

I wish I have a picture to accompany this blog.  I’m afraid you’ll just have to imagine for now.

Gudlak sa pagluto! (G oodluck to your cooking!)