June 17, 2024

BONTOC, Mountain Province – Owners and staff of hotels, cafés, and restaurants in this capital town are looking forward to incorporating at least one snack or meal featuring local products or ingredients into their menus.

This is expected from the participants following the conduct of a one-day training workshop on local cuisine preparation on April 19 in celebration of Buwan ng Kalutong Filipino with the theme “Flavors of tradition: Elevating Bontoc cuisine in hospitality”, spearheaded by the Municipal Tourism Office.

Municipal Administrator Eric Fulangen Sr., who represented Mayor Jerome Tudlong, Jr., welcomed the guests and participants from the town’s food and beverage industry, urging them to absorb new ideas while having fun in the activity.

Chef Ruben Fattarao, a native of Barangay Maligcong and the event’s guest speaker, showcased four of his recipes to inspire culinary creativity among participants.

His cuisine, like the wading chili paste, finuteng burger, tilapia floss, and honey lemon pork, use locally sourced ingredients and exotic materials that are produced or found in the municipality.

Fattarao started creating his recipes after noticing that food served in restaurants in Bontoc taste the same.

He said the homogeneity is their preference for conventional cooking methods and reluctance to innovate, which is why he gave a twist to the usual chili paste.

The chili paste is made of “wading” or small fish found in rivers, with the fiery intensity of chili peppers balanced by the aroma of garlic, onions, lemon grass, and pandan leaves.

Embracing creativity in culinary traditions, Fattarao gave a new twist on the classic burger. Instead of buns made of plain flour, the bread used is squash pita bread.

The burger patties have also been infused with native rice wine or tapuey. This innovative culinary creation combines the rich flavor of the tapuey and the subtle sweetness of squashin the bread.

Fattarao said the local food industry overlooks natural ingredients that are plentiful in Bontoc, choosing artificial flavors instead.

When he made his own toppings with what he called “tilapia floss”, he used turmeric as the primary flavoring agent. This savory garnish, made from shredded or flaked tilapia, crisped and seasoned with onion and garlic, is often used to add texture to dishes such as salads, soups, rice bowls, or as a topping for bread, and other snacks.

He later used the tilapia floss as toppings for the finuteng burger, adding a touch of seafood taste to the dish.

The final fusion cuisine presentation featured a new way to serve traditional pork dishes by incorporating lemon and honey.

“Honey-lemon pork” is a delicious combination of tender meat with a zesty and slightly sweet flavor. To prepare this dish, thinly sliced pork is marinated in a mixture of honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger to infuse it with sweet, tangy, and savory flavors.

The marinated pork is then stir-fried or grilled until cooked through and caramelized, while the sauce thickens to a glossy coating.

In his closing remarks, Councilor Glenn Bacala acknowledged the expertise shared by Fattarao and expressed hope the participants would integrate what they learned into their culinary business endeavors.

Buwan ng Kalutong Filipino is celebrated every April by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 469. – Shannon Anthea S. Pagaduan