4th “Tupig” cookfest set

The traditional Christmas rice cake will be on the culinary limelight on Dec. 13, 2014 to cap Paskua Mi Ditoy (Our Christmas way here ), the province’s annual series of activities to celebrate the holiday season.

Dubbed “Fourth Solid North Tupig Cook-off”, the event aims to boost the native delicacy and preserve the culinary heritage. “Tupig” is a sticky rice cake which makes use of glutinous rice as base and is usually cooked over a coal fire.

The traditional recipe includes seasoning the base with coconut gratins, butter, and molasses before it will be wrapped in a banana leaf.

Though the cooking process usually follows the recipe mentioned above, the cook-off aims to introduce flavor variations in making the said delicacy. Previous winning contingent from the town of Sarrat used “latik” or coconut meat and roasted peanut as toppings.

Other ingredients explored by previous contestants were cheese, “langka” (jackfruit) bits and a more surprising twist, the Ilocano black gold “gamet”, an expensive black seaweed which sporadically grows in the rocks and coral reefs along the shorelines of the town of Burgos.

Elaine Lubguban of the Communications and Media Office revealed that this year’s competition will be held beside Paseo de Paoay, a world-class multi-purpose commercial building beside the UNESCO world heritage site, the famous centuries-old Paoay Church.

She said that there will be 14 contingents joining the competition which is composed of representatives from various local government units as well as tertiary and secondary schools in the province.

“What we’re trying to do is to restore the quality ingredients of the old heritage recipe and at the same time forge new pioneering recipes of fusion and less confusion,” said Governor Imee Marcos.

In Ilocos Norte, the said delicacy has evolved from a hearty dessert during Noche Buena (Christmas Eve meal) to a well-known all-year round street food and a popular “pasalubong” (take home). It has also become a livelihood particularly among women.—Grazielle Mae A. Sales, PGIN-CMO