Tasting local flavors is one reason why travel is so addicting. Its a great way to know more of the culture and heritage of a people and their place. But most of the time, especially when fastfood and popular cuisine have made inroads, it can be challenging.
This was my dilemma when I went to Kalibo. What is Aklanon cuisine? What and where to eat in Kalibo when I want local? There were a few dishes that I’ve come across and when I asked about it, people usually say, oh, we prepare these only during fiestas..
But then, there’s Saylo Cuisine along Quezon Ave. Extension, Kalibo which, fortunately for me, serves authentic Aklanon cuisine. Below is a list of local dishes that you should have whenever you are in Kalibo or Aklan. Except for latik, the rest are from Saylo.
Traditional binakoe is cooked inside a fresh node of bamboo. Native chicken plus onions and lemongrass are added. For the souring agent, aeabihig leaves complete the mix. Think of this dish as similar to the sinigang and might appeal to Tagalog palates.
A hot plate of rice plus steamig binakoe then paired with an ice cold soda would be the perfect lunch!
#2 Inubarang manok
I didn’t expect that core of banana stalk (ubad) when cooked in coconut milk can be so good! Native chicken cooked with the said ingredient, gata and lemongrass results in a stew like dish that has a thickish soup. I just love the gata taste, the tenderness of the chicken and the hint of tanglad (lemongrass).
#3 Linapay or Tinamuk
When this was served on the table, I blurted, looks familiar!, because it is. If you’ve been to Camalig in Albay, you will associate it with the pinangat or the inolukan, both tasty dishes and differs only in the filling.
Ueang (pounded freshwater shrimps and gawud (young coconut meat) are wrapped in gutaw (taro) leaves and cooked in coconut milk. Like the Bicol Equivalent, its a heavenly dish because of the gata and taro leaves. Slice in peppers and it can be a very flavorful and spicy dish!
#4 Inday inday
This is a simple dessert made from sticky rice flour (malagkit) cooked in hot water, just like the palitaw and topped with bucayo, gelatinous coconut meat simmered in water, muscovado sugar and coconut milk.
Its a beautiful play of texture and taste, blandness of the sticky rice flour patty and the sweetness of the topping.
This native delicacy is another play of texture and taste which I love. Suman, cooked glutinous rice, which is bland is topped with grated coconut and latik, watery caramelized sugar, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
Unlike the traditional suman which is elongated, this one is just around three inches long and bite sized. These are sold in the local markets or at the pasalubong center of Kalibo airport.
Despite its unusual name, eangkuga is similar to the ginatan: bilo-bilo (glutinous rice balls), pieces of saba bananas, camote (sweet potato), and shredded young coconut meat and cooked in coconut milk and muscovado sugar. Its a delicious afternoon snack.