Every place has its own unique recipes to brag on. It is not only the people and the environment that defines the culture of a place but also their unique food. Here are the four dishes that you must try when visiting Legazpi City:
BBicol Express This is a pork meat recipe with alamang and lots of chili locally known as labuyo. This is a very popular dish marked as one of the hottest dishes in the Philippines. The three main ingredients are cooked in coconut milk. There are many varieties of Bicol Express. Some chefs even put pineapple tidbits. It makes the dish a bit sweet and balances the oily taste of the sauce. Others would add crabs to give more life and color to the dish. If you want to try Bicol Express as closes as a local would prepare it, go to 1st Colonial Grill at Pacific Mall or Ayala Mall in Legazpi City.
Laing. This dish is made up from taro leaves cooked in coconut milk. The taro leaves are cut into uneven rectangular form then it is dried under the sun. That is the reason why it looks brown or very dark green. Then the coconut milk is addedto soften it. The taro leaves take in all the liquid from the coconut milk. If you are served with a green taro leaves in coconut milk, don’t be fooled. It is not Laing. It is just ordinary fresh taro leaves cooked in coconut milk and will not give you the same unique and good taste as the Laing. For best taste, try it at Pares King. Pares King has two branches in Legazpi City. They are located at Legazpi Boulevard and at Washington Drive. If you want to take it home, they also sell it in bottles, however, these come with some added oil and potentially added preservatives so do try the fresh Laing.
PPinangat. This dish is also from taro leaves. The difference between Pinangat and Laing is that Pinangat are small slices of taro leaves that were wrapped in a bigger taro leaf and tied using a coconut leaf to look like a gift. Then it will be cooked in boiling coconut milk. The taro leaves being used in this dish are all fresh, not dried. Most of the restaurants in Legazpi City serve this dish but the original recipe is not really from Legazpi but from its nearby town Camalig. The people of Camalig cook the best Pinangat in the province. You could just drop by at “Tiya Pining Nocedo Pinangat” store or at “Dad’s Special Pinangat” at the town of Camalig before going or leaving Legazpi City. But if you don’t want to make another stop over at this small town, a local of Camalig sells Pinangat in a stall at the side of Gregorian Mall in Old Albay District near the Legazpi City Municipal Building. They are there between 6pm-8pm daily. They are so popular and the stock is limited so if you want to taste it Camalig style, go there earlier.
EEnsaladang Pako. This is a known side dish in Legazpi City but restaurants does not serve this because the colorful life of the dish lasts for 20 minutes only. 20 minutes after the preparation the green leaves turn brown which won’t be pleasant for the customer’s eyes. But why is it a must taste dish in Legazpi City? It is because the ferns that are used in this recipe can only be bought at the markets of Legazpi or on its nearby towns. The young ferns grow in the wild at the mountainous areas of Legazpi and on Albay province. Even a local Filipino from another province might not know about this.
Here is a do-it-yourself recipe: Go to the public market of Legazpi and buy a bundle of “pako” ferns. Cut the soft parts of the fern and discard the mature stalks. Then set it aside and cut the other ingredients like tomatoes and onions. After, blanch the fern and in a bowl mix it with the tomatoes and onions. Squeeze a lemon and sprinkle some salt on it.
There you go, you have now an “ensaladang pako”. If you still have questions, visit these Facebook pages to get some help: “Bicolanong Galaon” or “Bicol Adventures On-call Tourguide”. There are be locals behind these pages who are happy help when preparing local recipes.
Taste buds of every individual may differ. That’s what makes it more exciting when tasting food that you are not used to. Yet, having a say to such foods would actually be different if you had your real eating experience rather than just listening to a story. Savor the taste of Legazpi
Image Credits: Bicol Express © Raymund Macaalay