The No-Brainer Authentic Laoag Dinakdakan Recipe

Ilocano Dinakdakan

Taking center stage in the kitchen today is a mainstay of Ilocano cooking. The no-brainer severely appetizing dinakdakan is actually grilled pig face, dressed in creamy pig brain and pure sukang Iloco. No calamansi involved here! Ilocos salt, local red onions, ginger and paminta are enough to spice up the natural sweetness of pork mascara. The sili (chili) in sukang Iloco makes it even more authentic.

Lynne and I prepared the recipe for you. Enjoy!


What you’ll need:

  • Half of a pig’s face including tongue
  • Pig’s brain
  • 3 red onions, chopped
  • About an inch long piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • A pinch of ground pepper
  • 3 tbsps Ilocano vinegar


  • Tenderize meat by boiling in about 3 cups of water.
  • Put brain in a plastic bag and dip in the same pan.
  • Drain meat and slice into grilling size.
  • Grill meat until skin turns somewhat crispy, and then cut into small pieces.
  • In a bowl, mix the grilled meat with all the other ingredients including the boiled brain. Adjust seasoning.
  • Serve with sukang Ilocos and sili.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2013

Cafe Ilocandia’s Asian Food Festival

Stuffed Tomatoes and Salmon sushi

After a series of changing hands and facelifts since it opened its doors in 1983, the coffee shop of the Fort Ilocandia, the only 5-star hotel in the North, continues to serve discriminate lovers of food. I like its latest name the most — Cafe Ilocandia — what a better way to celebrate the Ilocano culture!

Ilocano specialties like dinakdakan (grilled pork/pig’s face, red onions and ginger, slathered with pig’s brain and Ilocano vinegar), kilawen a kalding (goat meat ceviche), swam, (goat innards with bile aka papaitan soup) utong and fish paste salad stood on equal footing with Asian favorites like sushi, siomai, tempura, pancit, lechon, Mongolian barbecue, and some not-quite-Asian dishes like stuffed porkloin with prune sauce and cheese-stuffed tomatoes in their most recent Asian Food Festival.

Ilocano FoodKilawen na Kambing and DinakdakanSwam (goat innards with papaitan)
Looking like broth in the photo, the swam soup.
LechonLechon ("best pig ever!")
Nothing compares to crackling lechon (whole roast pig) skin with blood sauce.
sushi and siomaiMongolian BBQ Rice
My peewee Mongolian BBQ rice with shrimps, fish and chili bean paste.
Food TripMango Crêpe
Crêpe with sweet and succulent Philippine mangoes.
Cafe Ilocandia Asian Food Festival
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2012

Naimas A Tinuno Idtoy Ilocos

Tinuno served with fresh Ilocos tomatoes

A basic Ilocano dish and one of the most-loved —  Tinuno, or charcoal grilled pork. Ilocos rock salt is rubbed in before grilling.

Tinuno becomes Insarabasab when suka, crushed ginger bits and lasona slices are mixed in. Insarabasab becomes Dinakdakan when utek and mascara are added. See the difference?

Ilocanos abroad will agree with me that pork tastes way different here — more flavorful, sweet and juicy.

Photo by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED