Have you ever wondered how the famous Vigan Longganisa, Ilocos Bagnet, and Okilas (a.k.a. “Chicharon with Dinuguan Dip ala Vigan”) are made?
Last Monday, I had the chance to discover just that as we visited a local butchery and longganisa/bagnet maker — Manang Ida in Vigan.
She shared the secrets behind our Ilocano food favorites…
Bagnet is an Ilocano pork dish that is popular because of its double-fried crispiness.
It is cooked in lard (note: its own mantika) in a big kawali over an old-school, wood-fired cement oven.
Kasim is the part of the pork that is used for the Bagnet. It is deep-fried with salt for 2-3 hours until it softens and becomes red.
The best way to know if it is cooked is by touching it (just like Manang Ida).
The oil is removed afterwards. Then, the fried pork is allowed to settle for 15 minutes before putting it back and frying it again for maximum crispiness.
That was the first time that I learned about Okilas, which is essentially chicharon with dinuguan.
The skin is turned into chicharon by hanging it for 3-4 days. This is freshly hung pig skin.
Ilocanos are very masinop (not kuripot), so they make sure to use every part of the pig, including the skin. These have been dried for two days already.
After 3-4 days, they turn into these sheets of crispy skin, ready to be served as Chicharon.
The pig’s blood is now turned into Dinuguan (Pork Blood Stew).
Chef Rene shared with us that the Dinuguan is simmered and slow-cooked for 7 hours until it turns into a paste.
Vigan’s Dinuguan version is more paste-y in nature versus the liquid dish we’re more familiar with.
Longganisa is pork meat and fat stuffed into an intestine wrap. Vigan’s version is salty and best paired with Ilocos Vinegar.
The secret of this Vigan Longganisa? It has a ratio of 20 kilos of meat to 10 kilos of fat.
The meat is mixed manually with Sinait Garlic crushed in San Esteban Almeres. Sugarcane vinegar is added along with Atsuete with soy sauce (to give it color).
The mixture is then packed inside the small intestines and sealed with an Astra 20 thread.
Vigan Longganisa is sold in packs of 12 versus Laoag’s Longganisa, which is sold per kilo.
They clean the longganisa in water before they hang it to dry.
To enjoy the Vigan Longganisa, you just have to fry it and then serve with Ilocos Vinegar. 🙂
Chef Patty can’t help but exclaim, “Naimas!” (“Yummy!” in Ilocano.)
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P.S. Thanks to Winona Santos for taking us around on the Culinary and Heritage Tour of Vigan! This was our first stop. I will share more of our foodie adventures in Vigan soon. 🙂