The Mojo of Ilocano Cooking


Ever wondered what makes Ilocano food so distinct? Primarily paksiw (sinanglao), dinakdakan, imbaliktad, and dinardaraan (dinuguaan)? It’s the infusion of supreme Ilocos organic vinegar. It’s also the same vinegar we mizzle our orange empanadas and tinuno with.

Sukang Ilocos is fermented from sugarcane juice and samak leaves, traditionally left in  burnay jars to age, first to basi (Ilocano wine) until it turns to vinegar, when color and flavor become darker and perfectly stronger. In our home, the darker, the better.


We love to artem (pickle) our fruits like sincamas, balayang, salamagui, sarguelas, mangga, and papaya especially during the summer. A little of that same vinegar is added to the bath after a bout of fever for a truly makapabang-ar (refreshing) sense of feeling, and as the babbaket say, “tapno haan a mabinat (to avoid recurrence of illness).”

MangaSuka ken BasiSukang IlocosSuka ti Ilocano

Ilocos Vinegar is ubiquitous in markets, souvenir shops, and stalls particularly along the National Highway in San Ildefonso (Ilocos Sur), and Pasuquin (Ilocos Norte).

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

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