PINANGAT and Laing (side by side)hit the spot- 2nd to the famous "Bicol Express". These two Bicol treats also became the talk of many Bicol food enthusiasts- from north to south. In fact, PINANGAT & LAING are now among the many popular Filipino dishes that earned major spots in famous restaurants' menu books and buffet foodcounters all over the country. Pinangat was originally concocted in the town of Camalig, Albay. Because of its popularity, many tourists who visit Legazpi City make sure that aside from tasting the spicy Bicol Express, they also get to bite thesetwo other authentic treats. Although many cooks and housewives tirelessly try to experiment cooking Pinangat and Laing- the way they heard or imagined they should be, in the end- their own versions would still taste very differently and not even close to those that were actually prepared in Bicol. Basically, the ingredients needed in preparing Pinangat and Laing are the same: dried shredded taro (gabi) leaves, whole taro(gabi) leaves, ground meat or seafood ( as fillings) , thick coconut milk, lemon grass, onions, other natural taste enhancers, siling labuyo (really hot chili peppers-optional), and most important of all- the SECRET technique that no one knows until now except those that came from the family of whoever originally created this dish. A secret that became a LEGACY. Beat it!
With pili nuts being endemic to Bicol, whenever someone speaks of BICOL, image of pili nuts comes into mind especially when the talk is about sweets. Pili trees are usually grown in the Bicol forests. Unless you are a Bicolano, you will not recognize which of those trees that you see around you are Pili. The color of a "ready to harvest" pili nut is more like magenta in shade. These nuts come in clusters. The way pili nuts are harvested is similar to that of harvestingcoconuts. In Bicol, they call the tree bearing pili nuts as simply, PILI.
After harvesting these pili nuts, locals blanch them in lukewarm water for a few minutes and once the external covering of these nuts softens, they are ready for serving (TINOLANG PILI). The dark magenta-colored skin is then peeled off until the cream colored meat-like part is exposed. This part is then- dipped in fish sauce "patis" to give it a more delightful taste.
Once the outer layer is removed, the pili nut shell is then exposed. Pili nut shells are as slippery as lemon and orange seeds when they are wet, that is why- locals have to dry them first before they start the cracking process for easy extraction of pilinuts embedded within those shells. But, aside from the meaty outer layer enveloping a pili nut shell the pili nut itself has also its own thin wrapping, which is colored like that of an old red brick. After they are done extracting these nuts from their respective shells, locals boil them for several minutes until done. The next step is- peel off those nuts skin- after which, they would start cooking these raw pili nuts into sweet luscious candies.
Popular candied pili nut products are: brittle pili nuts, caramelized pili nuts, yema, azucarada....
As to pili nut shells, some locals who live far from the city, burn and turn them into charcoals, which by the way, is said to have more energy/heat than that of charcoals made out
of wood and coconut shells. With a stock of generous charcoal on hand, they can then cook their pili nut candies without the need to spend more on butane gases and kerosene.
Add zest to your short stay in Bicol with the taste of the authentic fiery Bicol express invading your tongues. If I were you, I would not leave Bicol behind without tasting this spicy treat especially prepared for you by the very people who originally concocted it many decades ago. Obviously, it is the name that easily identified Bicol Express as another Bicolano dish. However, it is the exquisitely unique blended flavors of thick coconut milk, shrimp paste, pork, garlic, onions, and a handful of really hot green and red chili peppers(labuyo) that made Bicol express all the more popular not only domestically but internationally as well.
How it is prepared? Very easy☺. Mince a handful of garlic, chop several pieces of onions, chop thinly sliced pork into very small pieces, cut those small labuyo into two and get a pint of fresh thick coconut milk from the market. Once you have all the ingredients ready, set aside coconut milk and sauté all the ingredients in 2~ tablespoons of good oil in the following order. Garlic→onions→chopped pork meat→shrimp paste(washed to lessen saltiness)→labuyo. Add coconut milk and put salt or whatever taste enhancers you'd prefer to add in. Stir occasionally until it's cooked. Done. It's chao time!
NO food coloring agents have been added to give such bright and happy looks to these delicious noodles. These multiple vitamins and minerals' enriched noodles are products of Bato, Camarines Sur. Thanks to those people who made veggies a lot more easier to eat.
These happy looking noodles come in different flavors like:
Green Noodles: MALUNGGAY/Moringa + (leaves, seeds, and flowers), which are rich in vitamin C, ascorbic acid, iron, calcium, and phosphorus and have been claimed to help lower blood pressure, aid in circulatory stimulation, ease pains caused by rheumatism, headaches, migraines not to mention that it can also help prevent tumor.
Orange Noodles:CARROTS are excellent sources of antioxidant compounds, pro-vitamin A carotenes, which help protect against cardiovascular disease (lower risk of heart attack) and cancer and promote good vision, esp. night vision.
Yellow Noodles: SQUASH+( shoots and flowers)- Alttogether, they become another excellent sources of Vitamins A & B, calcium, phosphorus, and iron, which are very good in promoting good vison, increase rate of metabolism, helps maintain healthy skin and muscle tone. Enhance immune and nervous system function.
Bicol is not only proud of its natural wonders and good food but has been also noted to be the major producer of abaca products even before the Spaniards came to the Philippines.
Abaca is grown almost everywhere in Bicol. Volcanic area like the provinces of Albay and Sorsogon, are best suited for abaca cultivation. The Philippines' tropical climate, high to moderate rain fall, and rich in volcanic soil are particularly important in the growing of these plants.
Some of the common abaca products now being sold all over the world are: Bags, Table Runners, Place Mats, Wallets, Belts, Slippers, Carpets, Hammocks, Wall Decors and even ropes.
Americans has been the largest importer of abaca since 1830s , followed by Japan, and Australia.... The American navy uses abaca rope because it has a remarkable strength and more resistant to salt water decomposition than other known fibers. In fact, it was and still is the strongest of all natural fibers. Such qualities that were also appreciated by other foreign shipping companies all over the world.
By 1925, the US Department of Agriculture officials attempted to grow abaca in the Central American countries but despite experimental planting in their willingness to expand the industry in several other central American countries, efforts came out to be futile. However, at the end of World War 2 they have finally succeeded cultivating Abaca somewhere in Equador.
The abaca plant is a restricted material and government regulated. So, while Abaca's seeds and flowers are freely shared among countries, Thus, if a country other than the Philippines claims to grow abaca, DNA testing will always trace its origin to the Philippines, especifically Bicol.