Pampanga is called the Culinary Capital of the Philippines for its delicious classic recipes and rich culinary culture. Sisig, bringhe or paella, and burong Kapampangan are some of the Kapampangan dishes that have not only marked the local culinary scene, but also placed the country on the world food map.
In this Philippine Food Month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) puts local dishes in the spotlight with a series of free webinars broadcast through the DA and Agricultural Training Institute Facebook pages. (ATI).
One of the dishes that Pampanga is famous for is called burong Kapampangan. Burong Kapampangan is a recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. Buro is a Tagalog word for preserved, fermented, or marinated.
One farm that offers this traditional Kapampangan recipe is the Diaspora Farm Resort located in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Learn more about Diaspora Farm Resort here.
Annette Patdu and Claire Cortez, owner of Diaspora Farm Resort and her sister respectively, demonstrated the process of making burong Kapampangan, otherwise known as tag-ilo if fish is the main ingredient used and balo-balo if shrimp is used in fermentation.
Three main ingredients
You don’t have to spend a lot of money making this dish, as it can be created from materials grown on many local farms and considered a staple food in most Filipino households.
For tag-ilo or fermented fish, the ingredients are a quarter of a pound of fish (either tilapia, dalag, hito or whatever fish is available), four cups of cooked rice, and four tablespoons of salt. While for the balo-balo, the ingredients are the same except that the shrimp is used in place of the usual tilapia fish.
Patdu said in Tagalog: “The freshest [the seafood], the best. The smallest [the seafood], the best. This way you won’t have to remove their heads. As long as they are clean and fresh, any fish can be used.
Make the fermented fish and shrimp
If tilapia is your choice of fish, thread the tilapia and cut it into smaller sizes. To start the tag-ilo, mix the fish and salt in a bowl. Then add the cooked white rice. Mix it properly using your hands. Patdu said that the texture of the rice can be adjusted (soft or a little firmer), depending on one’s taste preferences.
Using a jar or glass container, put the mixture in and be sure to fill in the spaces. Then cover it tightly with the lid and place it in a shaded part of the kitchen without access to sunlight. Ferment it for five days.
For balo-balo or fermented shrimp, there’s no need to remove the heads of the shrimp, especially if you’re using small sizes, Patdu said. She adds that the secret of these recipes lies in the freshness of the ingredients used.
Making balo-balo has the same process as tag-ilo. Combine shrimp and salt in a bowl. Add the rice and mix them well to absorb the flavor of the shrimp in the rice. After that, fill the glass bottle with it.
These recipes do not need to be refrigerated. “You only put it in the fridge if you want to stop their fermentation,” Patdu said. After five days of fermentation, Patdu added that there would be slight color changes. At that time, the fermented fish and shrimp will be ready for cooking, which is done to enhance their flavor.
Serve the balo-balo and the tag-ilo
Preheat the pan for a few minutes, pour in about a quarter of a cup of cooking oil, add the chopped garlic, then follow the onions and tomatoes. Then put the fermented shrimp or fish. Other seasonings and flavors can also be added, depending on your taste.
These two dishes are often served and paired with vegetables like mustasa, okra, and ampalaya in many restaurants and households in Pampanga. It can also be a dip, a side dish, or it can even be paired with other dishes like pritong tilapia.
For Patdu, these variations on the same dish are among the best ways to show the ingenuity of the Kapampangans.
For more information on the event, visit Filipino Cuisine Month on Facebook.
Learn more about farming and gardening at agriculture.com.ph.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER