The North Vista

Beng-beng, Pigar-Pigar and Imbaliktad

by @SiRVis


A travel journal that will give you a pleasant view of people, places, food, culture, history and events from a refreshing perspective


EACH dish has a story…

Eating outside a public market stall in Mangaldan led me to a delicious meal and a local cuisine history lesson about “beng-beng”.

Beng-beng is Mangaldan’s version and the precursor of the more popular street food Dagupan Pigar Pigar, which is deep fried carabao meat seasoned with salt and pepper and garnished with onions.

The stall owner and cook who prepared my meal turned out to be the originator of beng-beng, Belen Aquino of JR Bengbengan. According to her, beng-beng is a Pangasinan word for the meat in the abdomen near the ribs of the cow or carabao. The meat trimmings were once given “free” to the matadors/ butchers of Mangaldan who had them cooked by her wayback in the 80’s even before “Isaw” of Dagupan became famous for cooking “pigar pigar” as concocted by Councilor Chito Samson and the late Manny Vent Cornel. Fast forward to more than 30 years, she now maintains a stall outside Farmacia Petilla in the Mangaldan Public market where you can enjoy beng-beng the way it was “originally” cooked. One advantage of Mangaldan is that it has an abattoir. You can say that the meat in the market is always fresh and newly slaughtered.

Similar to beng-beng and pigar-pigar is the Ilocano’s imbaliktad. It is stir-fried half-cooked beef (sometimes goat or carabeef) seasoned salt and pepper with garlic, ginger and onion and to spice it up some hot chilli. Sukang iloko is also added.

It is pigar-pigar however that has became popular among the three. In Dagupan, the whole stretch of Galvan Street is lined with pigar-pigar stalls that serve the dish almost 24/7. Also, there was a Pigar-pigar festival that was once regularly celebrated. I hope they revive the festival again. Other famous pigar-pigar stalls have sprouted outside the Galvan Street area especially in big barangays Lucao and Bonuan Gueset. Nowadays, there are different variations of the dish perhaps to adjust to the customers’ taste buds (shouldn’t it be the other way around?). Some stalls have innovated how the meat is sliced: thinly and bite-size. Some marinate the meat or add flavours like teriyaki-style. I was told that the original pigar-pigar was mixed with “papait” or cow’s bile/ intestinal juice and liver. Somehow the pigar-pigar of today has lost its exoticness and novelty.

How about you? How do you like your beef or carabeef cooked? Beng-beng, pigar-pigar or imbaliktad-style? The next time you eat out, ask yourself: “what story does your food tell?”

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