Seeded with a plethora of historical sceneries and landmarks, Ilocos Sur can be the country’s historical epitome. In fact, Vigan, which is located on the west coast, is recognized by the UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites and a later, a member of the New7Wonders Cities.
However, aside from the breath-taking scenes, the place is also known for its wonderful cuisines.
A not-so-healthy but extremely delicious treat is the Bagnet and it’s worthy as “pasalubong” for our loved ones when we just visited Ilocos Sur.
Allow me to say that among the known products of Ilocos, Bagnet, is the best-seller. Businesses that make them used to cook more than 20 kilos of pork belly every day. Their produce will even go up in peak seasons such as Summer and Christmas.
Now, bagnet is crawling its way in the international scenes. Cities in Ilocos Sur like Vigan and Narvacan are now exporting the treat. I recall an Italian friend of mine once asked me to buy him “crispy pork belly from Ilocos.”
While bagnet resembles lechong kawali, we can still differentiate it because of the long, meticulous and traditional processes of the Ilocanos in cooking them. These processes have been handed from one generation to another.
The traditional way starts with boiling the carefully-selected and cleaned chopped pork belly into the water with herbs and spices. Many are still using talyasi or an oversized iron vat under burning firewood because they believe that using it will result in a more pleasant and luscious treat.
After boiling for a few hours, the chopped belly are dunked into a boiling oil and will stay there for a few minutes only. This is just to make the skin crispy while leaving the fat and meat melt-in-your-mouth. Leaving the meat a few minutes more will result in a darker and bitter bagnet.
The popularity and demand of bagnet are high. It is now in the point that many restaurants outside Ilocos are selling it. However, allow me to say that nothing can beat the classic.