CARABEEF GASTRONOMIC DELIGHTS A LIST OF MUST-TRY CARABEEF DISHES FROM LUZON TO VISAYAS
WITH MORE FILIPINOS discovering carabeef dishes, the demand for the meat of the water buffalo is increasing in local markets and many Filipino restaurants. Its appeal increases when people note that recent studies have shown that buffaloes are a better source of quality meat than cattle due to their meat’s high palatability, physiochemical, and nutritional characteristics. It contains 40% less cholesterol and 55% less calories than beef, while having 11% more protein and 10% more minerals.
It has taken a long while for carabeef to become a top-of-mind meat for restaurateurs and home cooks alike. But carabeef dishes have long been popular across the country. Here is a brief overview of popular Filipino dishes made from carabeef and where one can find them:
Pigar-Pigar: This dish is so popular in Dagupan City that it has its own festival. Originally created as part of the annual celebration of Bangus Festival, pigar-pigar is Dagupan City’s version of stir-fried beef, made of thin slices of carabaoseasoned with salt and pepper, deep-fried, mixed with cooked cabbage, and served with fried onion slices (and occasionally, liver). The term “pigar-pigar” is Pangalatok (the native Pangasinan dialect) for “turning over” and this refers to constant turning over of the meat stripsas these are being sautéed in oil.
In Galvan Street, near the public market, entrepreneurs set up makeshift tents, tables, and chairs at night to serve pigarpigar. The street was the birthplace of Great Taste Pigar-Pigar Restaurant, which was hailed on a television networkas one of the top ten restaurants in Pangasinan. Now located on Gomez Street, it offers fine dining at a reasonable price, says owner Rommel Cerezo, adding that pigar-pigar orders are good for sharing. On regular days, the restaurant uses about 10 kilograms (kg) of carabao meat and up to 100 kilograms (kg) during special occasions such as holidays and the celebration of the Bangus Festival. “We usually use the brisket, quarter, or rear flank since these are the leaner meats of the water buffalo, with less [fat],” says Cerezo.
At the restaurant, the meat is cleaned by removing the fat and ligaments then thinly sliced. Cooking pigar-pigar takes 15 minutes of deep-frying over moderate heat, during which constant stirring is needed. The cabbage and onion slices are added before the meat is removed from the heat. The dish is then served with soy sauce, vinegar, calamansi, and chili dips.
Cerezo plans to develop more carabeef dishes to add to his restaurant’s expanding menu. Currently he maintains three branches: at Gomez Street and Tambac, both in Dagupan City, and San Carlos City.
Batil Patong: Tuguegarao is the capital of the province of Cagayan, and a highlight of any trip there is a meal that includes pancit batil patong (also known as “pansit batil patung”).“Batil”