I have two reasons to love Ilocos: Vigan longganisa (Vigan chorizo) and Ilocos empanada. The beaches, old churches, and charming culture comes next. I am a fan of Kapampangan dishes but I cannot deny the fact that I am half-Ilocano and I love Ilocano dishes. One of the dishes I really looove is Ilocos empanada. For those who are not familiar with Ilocos empanada, it’s not like Spanish empanada. It is deep fried, not baked. Deep. Fried. Shall I continue? Ok. The filling is usually savory green papaya and mung bean sprouts, with Vigan longganisa and egg. It is enclosed in a thin dough that becomes crispy after deep frying.
The last time I had these was around six years ago and I never forget how it tastes. I have been wondering where to find a place that sells it here in Manila. Then one glorious day, while I was on my way to work and trudging the heavy traffic along Doña Soledad, there it was. Its orange and yellow glorious signage it called me.
I told myself that I’ll get myself one (or two) that same weekend. Two months after, I was still telling myself that I’ll buy an empanada that weekend. Ugh. I became more and more desperate to get a piece but I never had the chance to. Every day that I pass by it (it is still closed in the morning) it was like teasing me. It’s crazy! Until yesterday, I went to Puregold and finally decided to walk to the empanada store. It was only a couple of steps away and I wasn’t carrying anything heavy.
It’s a small place but what I liked about it is that they cook the empanadas as you order. I chose the special emapanada with 1 egg and 1 longganisa and the veggies. Other choices include 2 longganisas, no longganisa, or with cheese. While waiting, I checked out their other menus. They also sell bagnet (deep fried pork belly), rice meals and what looked like lomi (egg noodle soup). They also sell Vigan longganisa for Php 400 per kilo and even Ilocos vinegar (that I love!). I also saw that they are using organic and cholesterol-free oil.
I watched the manong (Ilocano term for “big brother) skillfully prepare the empanada. There were several orders made before mine so I waited for a few minutes but that was ok because at least I knew the empanadas are fresh and not reheated.
I had the order prepared to go and as soon as I got home, I admired it for like 3 seconds and enjoyed every crunchy, savory bite. It was good. Guys, when you buy one of these, order the extra special one with two longganisas. One longganisa is not enough. It took me back to Vigan and Laoag as I enjoyed their famous street food.
I’m definitely getting another one and I will not wait for another two months to buy an empanada!