Yet another Ilokano writers meet in Benguet, and passing by the province of Nueva Vizcaya by lunch time, we decided to have our hunger settled by a roadside eatery in Barangay Baretbet in Bagabag town where our hungry eyes caught a placard announcing the availability of igat (eel), udingan (or bunog), burasi (carp) and other freshwater delicacies fished right from the Magat River nearby.
Here’s the eel, sinigang, soured with tomato, cooked just so tender to render its own fatty essence:
The sinigang nga igat is just cooked right and even if it’s sinigang and not cooked dry as paksiw or adobo but with some broth, it’s not “nalangsi” or “malansa”. The preparation and cooking is expertly done. The eatery is kind of popular as hungry travelers are incessantly stopping by to eat and partake of the igat specialty.
So wickedly delicious, it oozes with gustatory goodness to dare you to a rice intake overload!
Hi-bol. Wait a minute, hi-bol, what? It’s just a local noodle dish popular in Ilocos Norte, particularly in Laoag City. High ball. High voltage. Whatever. Perhaps because you’ll get a kind of high when you consume it piping, steaming, hot. Gastronomic high that only Ilokanos can assure you with this unique concoction/variation of the famous Ilocos Norte paksiw of beef tender loin and innards soup soured with Ilocos cane vinegar and flavored with hints of bitterness courtesy of pespes or pinespes (extract of the partially digested grass in the intestines).
Yes, it’s paksiw with rice noodles, this blessed hi-bol is:
And it’s really a perfect noodle soup to keep you warm, nay, hot, especially when it’s raining cold, it give cozy comfort just like the Laoag lomi in a pot. Hi-bol is a perfect mate for the more famous Ilocos empanada. Give it a try when you’re in Laoag or San Nicolas!