Saturday, February 5, 2011

winter blues

I've always wanted to feature very unique dishes from my hometown. The current wave of cold weather hitting the US, including here in SoCal, has covinced me to share this recipe to my readers.  This is comfort food perfect for this cold winter spell.  Also, it never fails to hit the spot and pick me up whenever I am down.  This is actually a pair of dishes very popular in my homeown of Tuguegarao, usually served as merienda (snacks). I would lke to present to you sinanta and pinakufu (noodle soup and sugar coated fried rice flour).

I wanted it to be as authentic as possible, from the recipe to the reasons why it is served together.  For the sinanta, I called up my mother, who still lives in Tuguegarao after 77 years.  She gave me a recipe shared by her and our trusted kusinera (cook), Letty.  My brother-in-law, Benedict, also gave me his version of sinanta, which he got from Cirilo, their kusinero of 50 years. The pinakufu recipe is from Benedict's mother, Mama Bess, whose passion is cooking.  A trip to Tuguegarao isn't complete without being invited to her home for dinner.  She makes everything from scratch, even her desserts, which are just amazing!  Thank you to my family for sharing their recipes.

For the reasons why sinanta and pinakufu are paired together, I posted a poll on Facebook.  One of my cousins, Erick, said it best, "You can't have Batman without Robin, that is how we think of sinanta and pinakufu".  The saltiness and soothing warmth of the noodle soup blends well with the texture and sweetness of the pinakufu.  In other neighboring provinces, they pair the noodle soup with royal bibingka (rice cake with cheese).  It was unanimous, everyone agreed that these dishes should always be served together.  

Thank you to all my friends who commented on the Facebook poll.  I hope you all enjoy Sinanta and Pinakufu, superheroes we can readily call on to pick us up from the cold Winter blues. 

½ kilo neck bones (for richer broth)
½ kilo pork boiled and diced
½ kilo chicken breast boiled and diced
6 cups clams (tulya or mussels)
boil and remove shells
250 grams Sotanghon
250 grams Miki or Flat Noodles-- (I used extra wide flat egg noodles found at the pasta section)
4 tbsp. achuete seeds (annatto seeds) -- I used annato powder
½ cup Hibi (dried shrimps) soak in water
3 tbsp. Patis (fish sauce)
1 tbsp. garlic chopped
¼ cup chopped onion
3 tbsp. cooking oil
1 cup chopped green onion for garnishing

Boil together neck bones, pork, and chicken in 10 cups water. You should have 10 to 12 cups of broth including the clam broth
Boil Clams in 2 cups water!
Remove shells from clams. Add clam broth to your meat broth.
Soak achuete seeds in ½ cup water for 1 hour. Rub achuete seeds to extract red color. Strain. Use juice extract to add color to your sinanta. (Since I used  annato powder, I skipped this ingredient).
Saute garlic and onion in cooking oil.
Add the chicken, pork, clams and hibi.
Season with patis and the broth and achuete extract. Allow to boil.
Add the sotanghon and miki when you are about to serve the sinanta to prevent drying.
Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with chopped green onion. Serve Hot.

And the verdict? I was waltzing with my bowl as I got the authentic taste that I was looking for.  The secret ingredient?  Ta-dah!  Clams. 

My Mama was right.  She asked me if "ala" (clams)  is available in our market.  I was delighted to buy Manila clams from our local ethnic store. It gave a rich flavor very distinctively Ybanag (what we o folks from Cagayan are called).

2 cups Glutinouos rice flour
1 cup brown sugar
cooking oil for frying

In a mixing bowl pour the flour.
Add water little at a time to form a thick mass.
Knead to form a ball.
Divide the "malagkit" or dough into small balls. (ping-pong size balls)
Roll to an oval shape and flatten between the palms of your hands.

Fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel or colander.

Boil 1 cup brown sugar in ½ cup water.
Boil until big bubbles form and syrup becomes very thick.
Add the fried malagkit and lower flame to medium.
Stir continouosly until evenly coated and sugar begins to dry up.
When dry remove from pan and serve.
Make sure to follow the last few steps, as it will give you the texture and the authentic look. It's like you got it shipped straight from Tuguegarao.  Enjoy!


  1. this looks really good. sure cure to winter blues. pinnakufu sounds like what we Tagalogs call Cariocca. The fried glutinous rice (galapong) balls dipped in syrup.

  2. Malou, I've never had this before, but I feel as though I can taste it in my mouth! What wonderful flavors and I like the use of different noodles too! Mmm! Must try it!

  3. What a wonderful pairing. We eat our sotanghon with biscocho. I would be so happy to eat the pinakufu on its own. It's nice to see the indigenous cuisine of the other regions that we never get to hear of in Manila. I hope there's more to come.

  4. they look awesome. There's no winter over at where I am, but I could use these delicious dishes when the weather turns cold :)

  5. Malou, this is perfect for the winter. This food takes me back from my childhood. My parents would make the miki from scratch to make sinanta although they don't use clam broth in their recipe. I'm defifnitely adding this to my comfort food list. Love the pinakufu too. Thanks so much for posting!

  6. arghhh i want some of that PINNAKUFU!!! ahh i just showed my friends your blog and now they want to come over sometime to try filipino food. =)

  7. I love these traditional dishes, many times hard to replicate as our grandparents never wrote down recipes. Thanks for introducing Tuguegarao cuisine - these look so delicious, Malou! Winter blues no more!

  8. JoJo: You're so right it's our version of tagalog's cariocca. I was trying to recall the name as I was telling it to my husband who is not YBANAG haha

    Liren: Thanks for dropping by Liren. I know you had a sotanghon post recently and I think that inspired me to post this dish as well.

    Adora: I hope I could still come up with other dishes that are from our region. It's a mixture actually of Ilocano and Ybanag.

    Hi Jean: Im so glad to see you again. Please do try it. It's funny though that we eat this before even during the summer as we don't have winter at all.

    Laura: Your parents make their own miki? That's fantastic. Maybe you could share the recipe with me?

    Isabelle my Izzy, I'd love to have your friends over. I'm glad that I got your friends interested with Filipino Food.

    Hi Annie: Im glad to have shared with you our cuisine. It's simple and it's always home cooked style Thanks for stopping by.

  9. Nice Recipe! I'll try that as soon as winter comes around where I am. Also, thanks for sharing Pinakufu. I'm quite unfamiliar with it, but heard about it from other people. I'll give your recipe a shot. :)

  10. I can imagine how this would cure the winter blues. Looks awesome! I've never had these before but I'm pretty sure I'm going to love them. Thanks for sharing the recipes! :)

  11. excuse me po, howcome i've never heard of this? is it because i've been sequestered in the high mountains of Baguio and hidden in the sugar cane plantations in the country?

    regardless, now i know. the truth!!

  12. I seriously don't know if I have ever tasted these before! I don't recognize the names, including the Tagalog cariocca. But I must, must have this soon - they look so delicious! 8-)

  13. Marvin: Im glad to know that you've heard about Pinakufu now if you only get to try it, then my mission is fulfilled haha! thanks Marvin for dropping by!
    Mich: Hello, I know it's unheard of since it hails from our "far from the city" hometown haha. But manila offers the same and it's called cariocca.

    Lala: hmmm beats me, Baguio should have something similar to this as it is always cold over there.

    Tracey: Go to Farmer's Market in Cubao and they sell the cariocca on a stick, those sticky,sweet fried rice flour. But if not, make some, my recipes will take you to my hometown.. and that's a promise!

  14. I am delighted to know that this post is one of the Best of the Blogs on Food News Journal. Kudos Malou! well deserved. I know you must have heard it a thousand times but you have a knack for words. It's as if you're right there beside me telling stories. Your posts are always compelling.

  15. lovely soup can't beat soup in cooler weather

  16. I love how you gathered all your information to get at an authentic dish. I've never had either, but I'd like to try!

  17. Hi malou, my mom's family comes from the north too (Nueva Vizcaya) but this is the first time I've seen sinanta and pinakufu--wow, they look so delicious!

  18. Thanks kabayan. I'm from downstream. I heard these recipes before but little did I know that they are what we call in Aparri as simply miki for the pinakufu (with a little variaton of course) while the sinanta is cascarones.


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