Dubbed as ‘Secret Kitchen of Samar’

CATBALOGAN CITY – The provincial government of Samar is set to launch another tourism campaign.
This time focusing on local cuisine of the province as an added element on the Spark Samar tourism program of the province.
The launching will be held on March 12 to 15 at the Shangri-la Mall, Mandaluyong City.
Dubbed as the ‘Secret Kitchen of Samar,’ selected local dishes will take the center stage to aid the on-going promotion of the province’s tourist destinations and the various products made from ‘banig’ (mats), through their ‘Lara’ brand.
Governor Reynolds Michael Tan said that at least 10 ‘heirloom cuisines’ will be showcased during the national launching of the Secret Kitchen of Samar.
“These are only few of the foods that tourists may taste and eat when they visit Samar. We have more dishes but as of now, we only selected 10 dishes and foods that Samar can offer to our visitors,” the governor said.
As part of the campaign, a three-day tour with local and national media was held last week visiting the towns of Santa Rita, Pinabacdao, Calbiga, Paranas, Motiong, Jiabong, Gandara, San Jorge, Pagsanghan, Villareal and the cities of Calbayog and Catbalogan.
“It’s called Secret Kitchen because during olden times, when people are cooking their heirloom foods, they would close all the windows and doors of their houses to keep their ingredients and the process of cooking a secret. This process and ingredients will soon be pass on to a relative as a way of preserving the cuisine within their family,” John Michael Cristobal, Samar tourism operations officer, explaining the reason behind the campaign,said.
Cristobal added that the foods that are to be showcased are approved by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), and received intervention from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
During the tour, members of the media were shown how the various local foods are being prepared.
Among these are the ‘Bola Catalana’ and ‘tamales’ of Catbalogan City.
Preparation and cooking of tamalos done by Juliana Nabong-Samson and the bola catalana by siblings Mary May and Gilbert Paleyan at their respective home kitchens.
Bola Catalana is Catbalogan’s version of ‘embutido’, a Spanish generic term for sausage, which contains ground meat, seasoned with aromatic herbs and spices, and wrapped in the skin of the pig’s intestines.
But for the local version, it is wrapped in leaf lard known as ‘sensal’ and ground pork with spices mixed with sliced cooked eggs and cheese sticks.
Unlike embutido that is cooked by steaming, Bola Catalana is steamed and baked.
Meanwhile, tamalos is a variation of the tamale, a dish of Mexican origin, which found its way to the Philippines via the Manila-Acapulco Galleon trade.
The tamalos in the city is an heirloom recipe consisting of rice dough filled with pork and flavored by a sauce called ‘pipi-an’, which is made of ground glutinous rice with chilies and pasotes to produce that piquant flavor and zing that Mexicans love. A thick peanut sauce blankets the creation before it is wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
Another secret recipe in Samar is the ‘humba’ in Villareal where 75-year old Leonora Nono showed how this favorite dish of the town prepared during big occasions such as fiesta is being done.
Villareal’s humba is unlike to other in terms of serving. Pork belly are cut in big chunks, flavored with soy sauce and native vinegar, a good portion of bay leaf, onion, garlic, corn pepper, sugar and fresh peanut.
Like the olden days, cooking humba in this town is done using a pot where young leaves of coconut are layered in the bottom before the ingredients are poured in and cooked in traditional way, in a low heat over a stove.
The members of the media also visited Calbayog City’s famous tinapa (smoked fish) at the Ping Ping’s Tinapa owned by the de Guzman siblings whose roots hails from Cavite. Tinapa production of the de Guzman started in 1979 that is now considered as an institution of the city’s Tinapa industry.
Unlike in other place where Tinapa is made from bangus and galungong, the Calbayog tinapa is made from freshly catch aguma-a (hasa-hasa in Tagalog) and burao (or alumahan). But there are also producers who made Tinapa from tamban.
Other food preparation that were visited by the group were queseo-making in Gandara, a mostly home-based industry made from carabao’s milk with a little mixture of vinegar. The milk is boiled and transforms into a white cheese after it is mixed with vinegar.
The tour also included a visit at the ‘karlang’ and ‘camote’ chips processing center in Sta. Rita town that is managed by the Sta. Rita Food Processors Association; snack foods in Pinabacdao, namely, sagmane, puto conserva, cassava linupak, suman malagkit and kuping; tinolang manok in Calbiga town and the galleta of Paranas.
The group also visited the town of Jiabong which is famous of its ‘tahong’ which is now used to make pop rice, chips, ‘relyeno’ nuggets and sweet and sour tahong balls.
Samar’s tourism promotion is a brainchild of former governor and now congresswoman, Sharee Ann Tan, who also initiated the Spark Samar Tourism Program in 2015.