In Ilocos, there is a strong yet hush hush battle of the best kind of empanada - the orange and thicker crust one from Batac versus the pale yellow and thinner crusted one from Vigan. And last December, I had the opportunity to taste both! Before I give out my verdict...let me describe these two empanadas thoroughly based on my taste.
The Ilocos empanadas are not like the usual empanada we see and buy here in the metro. The chicken empanadas and others here are made of flour/bread like crust which are often baked instead of fried. The filling are a weird yet flavorful combination of papayas, cabbage or mongo sprouts, one whole egg and longganisa. Instead of comparing it to the usual empadanas, I think I could actually compare it to a fried spring roll or lumpia.
Since my first stop was in San Vicente near Vigan, Ilocos Sur, I happened to sample the thinner, paler empanada first from the city center of Vigan. It was my second day exploring the Heritage Village - a name given to the historical Crisologo street and various surrounding streets- a UNESCO world heritage site. Walking around the old street felt magical as my adrenaline and excitement is on an all time high. There are various souvenirs to ogle and buy.
But one thing I am interested in apart from the semi-obligatory ref magnets and keychains is to take home and sample the food of the place. After buying one too many chichacorns and Vigan longanisa, it is time to chill, hang out and sample the empanada.
There is a certain area in the town plaza called the Vigan Empanada center where many different stalls are selling the yellow empanada.The Vigan empanada has a thin crust and is yellow in color. What's inside the crust are shredded cabbage, sliced green papayas, one whole egg and Ilocos longganisa.
It was crisp, hot because it was freshly cooked. You need to douse it with sukang Iloko to be able to get the right melange of tastes right. I,m salivating right now!
En route to Pagudpud from Vigan, I made it a point to make a pit stop at Batac to try their version of empanada.
Before I took the roadtrip to Ilocandia, a lot of people have been telling me to actually try this empanada - it's Batac empanada or nothing at all! Imagine how some passionate foodies defend their choice, what more to actual people who hailed from such places. With no intention in fueling the fire...I actually stopped at Batac in to sample these orange wonders with the intention of comparing it to the Vigan empanada I tried days before.
Papa and Mommy
The filling: instead of shredded cabbage, the Batac empanada uses generous amounts of mongo sprouts or togue, sliced green papaya, one whole egg and longganisa.
Though Vigan empanada is thinner, I found Batac empanada tastier. It's probably because of the dough. My first impression was that Batac empanada would be a letdown but despite the thick crust I can actually taste a whole lot of MSG in it. Haha. Seriously, the serving was actually quite bigger with generous filling.
However, I hated to pair it with ketchup at first but when I did, it tasted quite better.
Vigan empanada is best enjoyed sitting down and dousing the entire thing with Sukang Iloco for a minute before diving in.
Did I actually cast my vote? Haha. For me Batac empanada is tastier. Of course my father from Vigan would say otherwise! haha. But it is better to try comparing the two when you get to Ilocandia!
To those who already did, which is the best empanada in all of Ilocandia for you?
some photos sourced from here, here, and here