Sunday, April 24, 2011

Traveling The Philippines & KCC Challenge: Diniguan & Pinakbet Pizza

I'm sitting here in my Lola's living room... the breeze of a swaying fan keeping me cool-ish on this hot and humid evening. I missed this, and uncomfortably endure the 94°F with a smile. I've been in the Philippines for about two weeks now, and finally have a moment to sit down and write a little something. I've seen, experienced, and EATEN so much already! My journal is exploding with random impressions, scribbled recipes, and spur-of-the-moment sentences. I can't imagine how much I will end up writing about this trip.

I'm starting off with the 4-day road trip I just took with my family. Thirteen-deep in one van. 12 hours of driving. Lots of pee breaks. Not to mention the 6 who followed in a second van, and lastly our cousin who took the overnight bus to meet up with everyone for only one day. Whew.


We drove from Manila to the Ilocos Norte region of the Philippines. It's where my "true roots" stem from, with Sarrat as my family's hometown. We passed by all of my Lola's properties in Sarrat, and even visited the now demolished lot (right across the street from the Marcos Museum) where my great grandfather's house once stood.


We had lunch above the river where my mom, aunt, and uncles used to play in and bathe when they were younger.


Munching on Filipino empanadas and tupig - an Ilocano rice cake made by cooking a mixture of glutinous rice, buko (young coconut), coconut milk, and sugar inside a banana leaf - we beat the blazing heat by relaxing in the coolness of the flowing river.





One of the stops along our 12-hour road trip up to Ilocos Norte was in Paoay. I'm skipping to this point in my Philippine travels because it ties in perfectly with this month's Kulinarya Cooking Club theme. One of the main attractions of Paoay is Paoay Church, an over 300 year old, virtually impenetrable mass of brick and coral. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this church boasts nearly 2-meter thick stone walls and 24 massive buttresses that classify its architectural style as "Earthquake Baroque". Seriously, this thing is solid. 





This month's KCC Challenge is brought to us by Lala at This Little Piggy, and April's theme is: DECADENCE. A few words immediately come to mind: over-indulgent, luxurious, gluttonous. Filipino food has been widely categorized by Western cultures as a cuisine rich in meat and rice. While there certainly hasn’t been a lack of meat and rice during my past two weeks here, there has been a wide abundance of vegetables and fruits. 

To give a glimpse into both sides of the Filipino health spectrum, I give you something good and something bad, but dually decadent. Across the street from Paoay church was Herencia Café, where our herd of 20 hungry road-trippers stopped to have some dinner. The house specialty: Pinakbet Pizza.

Since my last KCC post just-so-happened to be pinakbet – this was a perfect dish to up the ante and take it to the next level. Between 7 cousins we ordered two pinakbet pizzas.


The pizza was better than we all imagined. Green beans, eggplant, okra, and tomatoes all cooked until shriveled and then piled atop a thin crispy crust and smothered with cheese.


To balance out all the “healthiness” we also ordered another over-the-top specialty, Diniguan Pizza. Diniguan is traditional Filipino dish made by stewing pig parts in it’s own blood. It may sound a little, um, how should I put it… - different - to many, and trust me, even my aunt (who is American) loved it… until we told her exactly what it was. Oops. Hehe.


The diniguan pizza was just damn naughty. A thick layer of pig’s blood was slathered over the crispy crust, topped with the stewed pork bits, melted cheese, and a healthy (haha) sprinkling of chicharonnes (crispy pork skin). I got weak in the knees before I even took a bite. I think we all went a little nuts. Everyone at the table with a camera started snapping away as if we were the paparazzi. 


Final verdict? We all agreed; the pinakbet pizza was much tastier than the diniguan pizza, but both rightfully earned their spot in the decadence category.

Kulinarya Cooking Club Members:

Kath –
Trisha –
Trissa –
Olive –
Caroline –
Ninette –
Asha –
Malou –
Cherrie –
Acdee –
Valerie –
Sheryl –
Divina –
Anna –
Dahlia –
Joy –
Maribel –
Jen –
Pia –
Malaka –
Mimi –
Erika –
Kat –
Lala –
Selfie –
Connie Veneracion -
Oggi -
Katrina -
Rochelle Ryan -
Marica –
Diona –
Rowena -
Theodore –
Gianna –
Mireille –
Marishka –
Annapet –
Boyet –
Adora –
Yaz –
Marvin –


  1. Wow, I never thought I would want diniguan and pizza at the same time. That looks AMAZING.

    My dad is from Cagayan, so we've done the drive up north too. Miss the PI!

  2. A uniquely great food during an obviously grand vacation......what could be better than that? :-)

  3. Wow, your family is REALLY Ilocano- mine only is from as far north as Pangasinan. These pizzas look delicious but yes, the dinuguan pizza looks way too rich for me! In that heat too!

  4. Nice blog. I'm living vicariously through you, i'm so enjoying the trip;)
    Those pizza are brilliant! Just curious what kind of cheese was used?

  5. I have been to Paoay Church when I was a little girl. Your post brought back memories of a family trip to Ilocos Norte when I was a little girl. The Pinakbet Pizza looks amazing. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  6. Such beautiful photos. Thanks for taking us all on your tour. Great Filipinized pizzas. I'm sure I would love the pinakbet pizza. The dinuguan, well, I'll give it a try if someone else made it for me. Show us more!

  7. Your pictures of Ilocos are so pretty! Been there twice but haven't had the chance to try pinakbet pizza nor dinuguan pizza--sounds and looks yummy :))

  8. filipinos are amazing. i went back last year after 40+ yrs in the states, all the smells, sights, and food brought back good memories when i was last there at age 9. We visited sariaya, and had an amazing specialty bread (my lolo would bring it home)-made only in sariaya, don't recall the name.

    i looked for a filipino cookbook geared for someone like me, filipina who left but want to bring back a beautifully illustrated cookbook, but couldn't find one. no one seemed to think this kind of cookbook would appeal to the locals. even in the restaruants we went to, they didn't offer cookbooks. (In the states, every good restaruant hawks a cookbook, filipinos are good at copying american ways, have yet to catch on to this one)

    your pinakbet recipe with clear pics is exactly what i was looking for. you should do a cookbook for filipinos living abroad. i'd be the first to buy it.

    sorry you are hurting from your breakup, hope your trip heals you.

    thanks for your blog.