Ivatan’s are what the natives of Batanes are called. When I visited earlier this year, I had no idea what to expect. Good thing we had two wonderful guides with us who answered my every question about Ivatan cuisine. As soon as I met them, I asked them for the top 5 things I should try while in town. They gave me six things. So I made sure I tried them all before leaving. Here they are so you know what to order when you to visit this beautiful archipelago province.
In Batanes, there is an abundance of root crops and that is why they have a lot of kamote or sweet potato. They have come up with several ways of serving it like kamote fries, kamote chips and kamote donuts to name a few.
Uved is greated banana roots. Traditionally, it is sautéed and mixed with ground pork or fish and turmeric and made into meatballs. Everyone has their own versions as Ivatans have started to create new dishes with it. (Photo is by Abigail Felix-Plaza @theabigailfelix on Instagram)
SUPAS / VALENCIANA
Another ingredient that is commonly used in Ivatan cuisine is turmeric. They use turmeric to add color and flavor to a lot of their dishes. In this case, turmeric is used in their rice. They call it supas or some times, valenciana due to the Spanish influence.
Dibang or flying fish is a delicacy. It is dried and salted native fish and commonly served for breakfast. I found it to be chewy but I’m not sure if it was because of how it was prepared. The peak season for fresh catch of dibang is during March to April. Perhaps next time I should try it fresh too.
Lunis is the Ivatan version of adobo. It is a pork dish where the fat is slowly rendered and the meat is cooked in it’s own fat. Salt is then added for flavor. The meat is submerged in the rendered fat or oil and was traditionally stored in earthenware jars. The addition of salt and cooking and submerging the meat in fat are preservation techniques. Nowadays, we have chillers / refrigerators to do the work for us. But then, Ivatans would cook all the meat and would preserve it for the next few months.
Coconut crabs are a delicacy in the island. You can eat them there but there are local policies against bringing them out of Batanes, even if it’s already cooked. It is so popular because of the rich, creamy roe that oozes out of it. We went to this place called Pension Ivatan Restaurant, where they prepared the coconut crabs for us together with a whole spread of grilled items.