Looking for a unique food trip near Metro Manila? Pampanga has been a long-time favorite among Metro Manila residents because of its location just a couple of hours from the metro.
This province in Central Luzon is known as the “Culinary Capital of the Philippines.” Many of the country’s top chefs originated here are from families with heirloom recipes who learned from cooking techniques from Spaniards during the colonial period.
If you’re planning to visit Pampanga soon, here are some of the most famous foods there you need to try out.
Sisig is the first dish that comes to mind whenever someone mentions Kapampangan cuisine. This appetizer made of grilled, diced pork cheeks, ears, liver, onions, and pig brain served on a sizzling plate, originated in Pampanga and has since become one of the most iconic Filipino dishes.
While it’s already a staple in Filipino restaurants and bars across the country, it’s customary to feast on sisig in a local restaurant when in Pampanga. Pay homage to Aling Lucing’s, a roadside eatery that popularized the modern-day sisig as we know it.
Tokwa’t Baboy or fried tofu and pork is another well-loved appetizer that originated in Pampanga that diners can now find in many Filipino restaurants. The traditional Pampango tokwa’t baboy has deep-fried bean curd, while the pork component is usually boiled pig’s ears and jowls doused with a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, onion and chillies. Head to Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy, a humble carinderia that serves agreatversion of crisp and fresh golden fried tofu, pig ears and a delicious blend of home-made soy sauce with celery and tomato.
Also known as embutido, murcon is a well-loved heirloom recipe from Pampanga consisting of ground pork, duck egg yolks, grated queso de bola, chunks of Spanish chorizo and other ingredients. The savory local meat loaf is usually served with a thick rich sauce made from its own drippings. You can try murcon in various restaurants around the city, including Everybody’s Café, one of Pampanga’s oldest institutions.
Bringhe is Pampanga’s traditional fiesta rice dish. This local take on the Spanish paella uses pure glutinous rice (malagkit) or half regular rice and half glutinous rice. The rice mixture is infused with rich flavors like native chicken, coconut milk, and luyang dilaw (turmeric), is cooked like a pizza pie with a crispy bottom and topped with boiled eggs and green and red peppers for a festive flair. You can try this iconic dish in Downtown Café, a diner-style restaurant by Chef Claude Tayag in Nepo Mart, that specializes in heirloom recipes alongside modern creative dishes.
Hito at buro
Another iconic Kapampangan dish is fried fish, particularly hito or catfish, a type of fresh water fish usually found in marshes, ricefields, swamps, streams, rivers, lakes irrigation canals, which abound in Pampanga. Usually grilled or fried, hito is often served with a salad of boiled okra, ampalay, eggplant, fresh mustard leaves and buro, a sauce of fermented rice with shrimp.
Pampanga is also well-known for some exotic dishes that are not for the faint of heart. Betute ordeep-fried rice field frogs filled with minced pork is widely considered to be a Kapampangan original. Abe’s Farm, a resort and spa with a heritage house restaurant nestled at the foothills of Mt. Arayat serves both traditional and exotic Kapampngan dishes including betute.
Kamaru are mole crickets found mostly on rice fields that consume rice grains and leaves, which are fried and served as a local appetizer. Aside from frying, kamaru is also prepared adobo style. Adobong Kamaru is just like a normal adobo, with insects replacing the main meat ingredient.
Who else is craving for some good old-fashioned Kapampangan cuisine? During your next visit, make sure to patronize local, homegrown businesses when you try these famous foods in Pampanga.