One thing everyone should know about Catanduanons is that they are natural-born cooks. It’s second nature to them to innovate and add twist to ordinary dishes.
Add to that the abundance of crops and seafood in Catanduanes and you get a foodventure waiting to be experienced when you visit this island province.
A vacation is never complete without a gastronomic adventure in the itinerary. Here are must-try food and delicacies in The Happy Island.
In Catanduanes, Latik are rice cakes made with malagkit (glutinous rice), coconut milk, and malunggay extract. It is wrapped in banana leaf and is best enjoyed with caramelized coconut sauce.
It is available for purchase at Chef Impling’s Delicacies at Sogod-Tibgao, Bliss in Virac. A piece costs Php30. Boxes of five and 10 are also available at Php150 and Php300.
Dawa is a seasonal delicacy and the number one product of the town of Bote. It is a sandy-textured kakanin made from millets, a type of grain that grows abundantly from March to April. Dawa cake and cookies are among its variations.
Tourists can order a bilao or tray of this at the town’s barangay hall for Php500 to Php700. It is a usual snack when island hopping.
This afternoon snack is made from gabi (taro root). It has a filling made from grated tara and young coconut meat cooked in gata (coconut milk). It is best eaten with cheese toppings or a caramelized sugar dip.
It is usually sold per piece at Php35 by street vendors in any part of the province. Catanduanes Halfway Resort Hotel also has this on their restaurant menu.
Garyang, another afternoon snack that can also be a dessert, is made from cassava. It is cooked in gata, condensed milk, and caramel.
It can usually be bought at local eateries in the towns of Bato, Bagamanoc, and Panganiban.
- Ginataang Tabagwang sa Pako
Tabagwang is the local term for kuhol (freshwater snails). It is usually done in coconut milk with fern leaves. Catanduanons like this dish spicy.
This dish is considered to be exotic because of the manner it’s supposed to be eaten: with bare hands. The snail meat must be slurped straight from its shell. Its price depends on its seasonality but it usually costs Php40 to Php45 per order. Tourists may go to the Hot Palace, a food hub in Gigmoto, to try this.
- Steamed Tabugok
Those who are exploring the Carorian Wonders are in luck because this special dish is only served as part of the island hopping adventure.
Tabugok is a sea-to-table dish made from red baby octopuses. This Carorian specialty gets tenderized and cooked by its natural juice. Travelers may request to include this in their tour package for additional Php300. One order is usually good for two to three people.
- Steamed Taktakun
Another Carorian specialty is taktakun, a seashell dish prepared with no other than water as the main ingredient. Fresh catch of these shells go straight to the pan after it is cleaned.
According to the locals, the best way to eat taktakun’s meat is to pick it with a fork or a toothpick. It can also be requested as part of the Carorian tour package for additional Php300.
- Stir Fried Bagisara
Bagisara (river clam) is a typical Catanduanon viand cooked in garlic, ginger, and onion. Locals say that adding salt to this dish is no longer needed because its juice and meat is tasty enough.
These clams are usually caught in brackish bodies of water in the town of San Miguel. The dish can be bought at Php40 per order in local eateries.
- Buttered Burbugat
This seashell dish is a must-try for spicy food lovers.
Burbugat is a type of clam that has a hard and ragged-edged cover. It has a thick red meat inside that, when flavored with garlic, butter, and chili, gives a savory kick. It costs Php70 per order at local eateries.
- Steamed Bukawil
These sea snails have thick shells and are often just steamed to make a viand. Forks and toothpicks are needed to fish out its thin meat inside. The meat is then dipped into soy sauce with calamansi.
It costs Php7 per shell and can be made to order at San Miguel Nature Spring Resort. Orders must be advised a day prior to the traveler’s arrival.
- Steamed Banagan
One of the most abundant seafoods in the province are lobsters. It can be an expensive dish in other parts of the country, especially in the metro. But in Catanduanes, it is more affordable because it’s considered as a staple food.
The Dungeon Restaurant in Virac has this on their menu at Php200 to Php300 per 100 grams. Puraran Beach Resort also offers this at their in-house restaurant.
- Ginataang Kinis
While kinis or mud crabs can already be eaten steamed, a must-try dish is the ginataang (done in coconut milk) kinis. Enseladang pako (fern salad) goes well with this viand.
The town of Panganiban, dubbed as the “Crab Capital” of the island, celebrates the Kinis Festival every July.
- Rice Brew
Those who love coffee must try this antioxidant made from toasted rice. It’s a healthy alternative to ordinary coffee granules. There’s no caffeine ingredient but it has a strong taste as well. It’s up to the drinker to add honey, sugar, or milk.
Travelers can buy directly from the Tura Family Residence at the town of Viga. It is available in two sizes: small (Php45 per pack of 5) and large (Php100 per pack of 15).
All tourist destinations in Region V have health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regularly washing their hands, and practicing physical distancing.
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit http://www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel on the Google Playstore.