I was born and raised in Bulacan. Now that I am living and working in Manila, there are a few merienda dishes that I crave for. These dishes are are uniquely Bulakenyo. I couldn’t find them anywhere in the Metro. Good thing, I am usually just about 40 kilometers or a little over an hour’s drive away. Here are three merienda dishes I really miss from my province:
1. Goto with Tokwa’t Baboy from Citang’s Eatery in Malolos
I could not resist eating a good bowl of goto in the morning or late afternoon. Goto is actually a special rice porridge or congee cooked with pork or beef innards. Yes, innards or the animal’s internal organs like ‘tuwalya’ or tripe, and ‘bituka’ or the intestine. The innards are cleaned well and boiled for several hours to make them tender and soft enough to chew. The slow cooking process melts the innards’ fats adding layers of flavor to the broth that is made even more special with the right mix of garlic, onion and ginger to cut the savory taste.
I usually pair it with tokwa’t baboy, which is crispy- fried tofu and pork liempo side dish. They sound and taste even better when you add a little “sweet suka” mixture. Suka or vinegar packs a sour-salty goodness. Citang’s version of this merienda is my favorite, as they add sweetness to it. Imagine the sweet, salty and sour taste of their vinegar coating each crispy-fried tofu and pork meat together in one spoon-full of goto is just heaven for me. It’s mouthwatering, indeed! Truly, this is the ultimate comfort food for every Filipino.
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2. Serkele from Aling Luring’s in Baliuag
My father introduced me to this dish called serkele, which is a different version of dinuguan or pork blood stew. Serkele uses cow’s meat, innards and blood cooked to perfection. We, Filipinos, obviously hate wasting any animal’s parts when cooking.
I am an avid biker. I remember one time, when I was on my way to San Miguel alone to check out Bahay na Pula or the famous haunted red house, I had to make a detour to Baliuag to eat some quick merienda. That was when I discovered Aling Luring’s place in Baliuag which serves ‘Serkele’. I ordered one bowl plus puto or a steamed Filipino rice-cake, which is the perfect complement to this dish. I ended up going back home, as I was too full to pedal my way to San Miguel.
3. Pancit Alanganin from Nory’s Pansitan in Bocaue
My wife’s family brought me to Nora’s Pansitan to eat merienda. It was a small carenderia packed with people eating their famous pansit called pansit alanganin. Pansit is noodles in English, while the term ‘alanganin’ means uncertain or ambiguous. There’s really a level of ambiguity, as this noodle dish is somewhat in the middle. Classic pansit dishes are usually served stir-fried, but this one is a little bit soupy. However, it’s not really soupy enough to be noodle soup. If you still don’t get it, better pack your things and visit this place soon. Don’t forget to order this merienda dish together with their toasted pandesal bun. The savory noodle paired with the toasted bun is simply delicious.
I’ll write separate blogs for these places I’ve mentioned. I hope I did justice and caught your hungry tummy’s attention. Let me know what you think about my favorites. Write your comments to share your favorite merienda that reminds you of your hometown as well.