Hometown Snapshot

Cordillera’s favorite food awaiting patent


BAGUIO CITY—Sagada, the most popular tourist destination in Mt. Province, wants to patent its homegrown etag, an indigenous salted meat dish that is the favorite in almost every ritual feast (cañao) of the Cordillera.

Residents who mount the Etag Festival every February have started the process to acquire the patent for the native way of preparing the delicacy, given the interest it has drawn from people outside the region.

Etag is called kinuday by the Ibaloi and kiniing by the Kankanaey in Benguet, but these tribes have almost similar ways for smoking and curing pork meat in time for their clan festivals.

Some provinces cure their etag by hanging the meat over a raging fire. Other provinces store the meat in earthen jars to stew in its own juice for weeks.

Etag is then boiled in a broth containing vegetables and pinikpikan (native chicken that is killed slowly from the blows of a stick before its skin and feathers are burned in open flame). A slab of etag is sold for P150 per 250 grams in the local markets.

The Highland Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (Harrdec) in La Trinidad, Benguet, believes there are ways to popularize the delicacy by improving its quality.

Dr. Sonwright Maddul, consortium director, said researchers had drawn up a paper detailing how to make etag palatable as cuisine for non-Igorots.

“When you see a piece of etag, what do you usually think of? It has a foul smell. It is rotten. It is not appealing and it is kadiri (gross) because it has maggots. Even the packaging is not appealing,” he said.

In 2009, Harrdec undertook the project, “Value adding of pork based ethnic delicacy (etag) for commercialization,” which was jointly financed by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development and Benguet State University.

Maddul said even the family-cultured meat did not follow a strict code that was handed down by elders. “The procedures, such as salting, smoking, curing and preserving, were just estimations. The quality [of each set of etag] was not consistent,” he said.

“We were motivated to standardize the process of etag preparation [that would pass sanitation rules and culinary taste],” he said. With a report from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WYX4ZTAV4BUGW2RIMT45CPYBGA Pio Gante

    yeah, i can still remember when i was posted at that area during the early 90’s just right after the big rumble. our budget  was too tight that’s why even if  food is readily available, we can barely get by. one night, a guy who lived near our post gave us a package containing what he said was meat from a wedding celebration (he didn’t say when) adding that it was very ‘naimas’

    when we opened the package, the smell of decay and rot overwhelmed all of us forcing us to get out of our quarters. one of my buddies said we should  throw it because he thought we were just victims of a practical joke then an old fogey intervened saying it was traditional  preserved meat. but we don’t know what to do with it?  he said we should just cook it with lots of bagoong. and we did as told and it sustained us for quite a while. thanks to the maggots,

    naimas indeed

    • generalproblem

      hahaha a very good experience indeed..

  • http://joboni96.myopenid.com/ joboni96

    unahan nyo na
    baka mauna pa dayuhan

    also for unique
    native dishes in other areas

  • coladu

    The maggots appear if the ETAG is not attended to properly from its preparation and during its curing period.  First, it is best that you let the meat drip off its liquid then salt it properly leaving no open area unsalted.  Then, either you dry it properly under the sun on slow drying which may take weeks depending upon the weather.  See to it that no flies land on the meat.  Usually, if flies are attracted, that means that the dripping and the salting were not done well.  Flies do not like salt, remember?  And, also, a well dried meat attracts less flies if at all it does.  You may also dry the meat atop your cooking place which in the Mountain Province is being done thru the use of pine fire wood.  It is not really a raging fire as the author said, with all due respect to her (Desiree).  If you place the same in a jar, be sure that it is cleaned first and dried so as to avoid any impurities which may be the cause of maggots appearing/developing.  In any case, even in jarring, you must be very sure that the salt that you place therein to help it cure is substantial to prevent the development of maggots. 

    ETAG is not smelly, should be without maggots and it should not be rotten.  If it is smelly or rotten or with maggots, to repeat, the preparation and curing were not done well.

    In cooking, before you ever place salt, taste first because the ETAG already has salt.  You may not need to put any, just ginger, vegetables and of course water.  If it is salty, just add water and nothing more, to temper the taste.  Finally, if you have an ETAG in large volume in store that has so much salt, it is advised that in succeeding cooking of the other ETAGs in store, you wash the same or boil to lessen the salt.  Why wash?  Remember ETAG was preserved with salt, and, it is and should be clean.  You do not necessarily need to wash this before placing it in the pot along with the other ingredients.

    To those who haven’t tasted this, try it.  All those who are not from that place whom I have personally offered the food liked it.  It is clean and very tasty.

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