A Taste of Ilocos at Home: Vigan Empanada


Vigan empanadas! I had to try and make my own version out of grave cravings and curiosity but it’s far from the real thing, so please, kindly bear with me on this one.  

The recipe which I used here was basically adapted from a coupla random Youtube videos which I’ve been watching while doing a bit of research re: Vigan empanadas.

A bit of info:

Vigan empanada is considered as a popular traditional cuisine from Vigan, which is actually a city in the province of Ilocos Sur here in the PH.

In case you’re wondering what empanadas are, they’re a lot like baked or deep-fried pastry filled with veggies and/or meat. According to Vigan.ph, Vigan Empanadas are “similar to a thin taco that is fried to a crisp, with vegetable and meat filling.” Now, what makes this version of empanada special amongst all other types is the meat that’s used for the fillings, which is a type of longganisa (sausage) that’s made exclusively in Vigan and is said to have a more exquisite taste compared to that of a regular longganisa – hence, its name Vigan Longganisa.

Since I didn’t have Vigan Longganisa at the time of great cravings (plus I didn’t know where else to get it other than in Vigan, which is 500+ km away from Batangas City, I actually Googled that info, lol), I had to make the most of what I had around here and thus found… *drumroll Adobong Longganisa. Someone referred them to me and said it’s the closest thing to Vigan Longganisa. Long story short, I decided to give it a shot.

So, what’ya say we skip the chit-chat and go to the recipe already? Let’s!

Note: I’m gonna TRY to make it quick and leave most of the talking to the photos:

Here’s what you need:

  • for the fillings – eggs, adobong longganisa (already precooked here), unripe papaya (peeled and sliced);
  • and for the dough – rice flour, orange food coloring (not in the pic, tho)
  • a bottle of cooking oil for deep frying


Grate papaya then sauté ’em on a slightly oiled frying pan over med-low heat ’til its soft enough to munch on (Add salt and pepper, I forgot to put pepper!). Set aside and let it cool.

15311607_10208944093933359_41269528_oForgot to take a photo of how I made the dough, sorry. But all you need to do is heat in a pan half a cup of water, quarter teaspoon of powdered food coloring, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoon of cooking oil (you can use margarine if you want). Let it boil over medium heat then slowly add a cup of rice flour. Stir and fold consistently until you get it to look like this orange-y dough (above).


Making the crust: in order to flatten the dough (with the use of a rolling pin or, in my case, a clean empty bottle of wine), you’re supposed to use banana leaves over and underneath the dough, but since I had none around, I had to improvise. So, I used two spreads of thin clean plastic bag (labo). Here’s the aftermath. Not that bad, actually. TIP: You have to make the crust as thin as possible to make it extra crunchy but also tough enough to keep the fillings intact.


Stuff ’em: Top the dough with fillings (make it a little closer to one edge). Take a spoonful of papaya and shape a crater out of it. Then, take a piece of longganisa, crumble it with your hands and put it around the outer part of the crater at the center of the dough. Finally, crack the egg and separate the egg whites in a bowl. The egg yolk goes into the crater-filling.


Fold ’em: Here’s the tricky part – folding and sealing the empanada. Wash the inner edges of the dough with egg whites, this’ll make it easier to seal it. To fold it in half, grab the plastic underneath the dough, then quickly and carefully fold it in half. Fold the corners of the dough like so (above). Pat around the edges firmly to secure the fillings in.


Deep fry ’em: Preheat oil in deep skillet in med-high heat. Gently put in empanada and flip occasionally ’til (I can’t say golden brown right? LOL) you think it’s crispy enough already. Point is, just don’t burn it.


Set ’em aside: Finally, remove from heat and let the oil drain by placing them over paper towels.


Dig in! Wished I had some sukang (vinegar) Ilocos at the time to pair with this beauty, but like I said, 500+ km away, remember? So, again, I improvised. Got the best vinegar mix (with onions, spices, etc.) on tha hauz c/o my in-laws. Same stuff they use in selling fried veggie spring rolls (lumpiang gulay), they cater the best, btw.

Verdict: It pacified my cravings alright. My husband said the dough could use some more salt but all in all, he said it was great.

It’ll probably take a few more tries til I get the perfect taste but I don’t mind trying, hehe, ‘coz I actually enjoyed cooking these! Still hope to taste the real thing, tho, but ’til then, this homemade version will do.

How ’bout you?  Ever tried homemade Vigan Empanadas? Love to know your thoughts on this one. 🙂


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