Pangasinan summer starts with ‘bangus’ fest
An array of gastronomic delights distinctively Dagupan’s will be among summer’s treats when this city celebrates its Bangus Festival starting today.
Councilor Marc Brian Lim, chair of the festival’s executive committee, said aside from the famous Bonuan “bangus” (milkfish), Dagupan’s best “lechon” (roasted pig) would be served after its launching on April 24.
“We will also have the very popular street fare ‘pigar-pigar’ (deep fried beef), ‘kaleskes’ (cow and pig innards stew) and a special breed of oysters that the city is now growing,” Lim said.
This year’s cook fest, he said, would also feature other fish varieties such as “talakitok” (jack) and “lapu- lapu” (grouper), which are also grown in the city.
Since 2002, when the Bangus Festival was launched, it had traditionally featured bangus in its “Kalutan ed Dalan” (Grilling in the Streets) every April 30, the penultimate night of the festival.
“We are actually veering away from just promoting bangus. We are also promoting other seafood of Dagupan,” Lim said.
“The aim here is that we want to be the seafood capital, maybe four, five years down the road. But looking even farther, my suggestion to the mayor is that we must become the food capital of the north,” he said.
Lim said this city is not a major tourist destination in Pangasinan and to draw people here, food must be the main attraction.
Mayor Benjamin Lim said what makes the local lechon special is that the pig to be roasted was not fed with chemical feed but organic food. “So, this is a healthy lechon. It has thinner fat, tastier meat and no acrid smell,” Mayor Lim said.
To produce the city’s tastiest organic lechon, Lim said he had invited all pig roasters in the country on April 24 to join a lechon contest.
“Whoever wins, we will adopt his or her winning formula for Dagupan’s best lechon, which will not only be the healthiest, but the tastiest,” he said.
He also met with pigar-pigar establishment owners and asked them to improve the way they cook and prepare the street food made famous by Dagupan.
“Recently, I talked to the owners of a salt farm in Bolinao and they told me that they have this kind of salt that not only enhances the taste of meat, it also tenderizes it,” Lim said. “With this and the right way of cooking the meat, we will have a tender and tastier pigar-pigar.”
In November last year, the city government launched an oyster revival project which involved fishermen displaced by the dismantling of fish structures in the city’s rivers.
These oysters, which have grown bigger than those grown in western Pangasinan towns, will be harvested in time for the Bangus Festival.
“We’re actually growing three varieties of oysters. We will harvest all of these and we will ask the people to taste it. They will choose what we should propagate later,” Lim said.
He said the city government would also train people how to prepare oysters in different ways.
“Our direction is really more on livelihood but we have to teach our people because they always stick to tradition. We have to think out of the box and thinking out of the box makes you distinct,” Lim said. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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