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Street Food Batac and the Batac Empanada

Batac Empanada

What is the Batac Empanada? For the uninitiated Batac is a town in Ilocos Norte that has found fame due to one of its sons, namely Ferdinand Marcos, the former doctor of the Philippines. The town now calls itself the home of great leaders, and for whatever reason they also have a great street food Batac scene.

And despite being very much off of the tourist trail coming to Batac and these other lesser seen parts of north Luzon can be quite the adventure.

What the Batac?

Located in Ilocos Norte Province, this town is 6, or so hours drive from Banuae, on the border of Currimao and just a few hours from the colonial town of Vigan.

The small town grows tobacco and would largely be unknown where it not for Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcis who previously ran the country. This led to Batac calling itself the “Home of Great Leaders” as well as a Marcos Museum getting set up.

This previously houses a mausoleum, which was privately run, but at the time at least had him up there with Lenin, Mao, Uncle Ho and the two Kim’s.

We personally went here after attending the Cutud Lenten Rites festival.

Street Food Batac and the Batac Empanada

Aside from all the Marcos based stuff the other thing that Batac seems to be well known for is the Batac Empanada. This dish while known throughout the country is particularly a big thing in Iloc Norte, with Batac having its very own famous incarnation of it, known as the Batac Empanada.

So, what is it that makes the Batac Empanada so special? Firstly and similarly to other empanadas within the region it is almost scarily bright orange, but I was truly happy to learn that this inviting orange hue was in fact all natural. In fact it comes from atsuete (atchuete) a plant that bears reddish fruits (closely similar to rambutan), with which this natural coloring is derived.

Where to get the Batac Empanada – Street Food Batac

Wanting to cash in on their most famous dish the local government have contracted a largely empanada food court directly next to the church and river, as well as being within a throw of the Marcos Museum.

This place is filled with empanada sellers, as well as those selling other Flippino dishes to complete the whole street food Batac scene. This to my absolute delight included glass bottled Pepsi and Mountain Dew, a thing slowly being lost to the plastic revolution.

Of the many sellers here perhaps the best, at least in eye eyes is the one slap bang in the middle known as Lanie’s. Not only did this place have the best Batac empanadas, but the friendly staff also let us have a go at making them ourselves.

How good is the Batac empanada and how do you make it?

One of the vest things about the street food Batac food court is you can watch the empanada getting make in real time. This involves the dough being flattened and filled with goodness, such as rings of vegetables., bean sprouts, before being expertly fashioned into shape and then speed deep fried, with you getting that burning whoosh sound as they add it.

Names, flavors, prices and ingredients vary greatly, with a simple vegetable empanada costing just 30 pesos (50 cents). I personally fell in love with a new variant, which was the Batac Cheese Empanada, which as you might have guessed includes cheese. Said cheese seemed to be of the cottage variety and went really well with the whole dish.

Street Food Batac – Best of the rest

The rest of the Batac street food scene is rather indicative of the general Philippines street food scene, although also including other empanadas from the region.

On top of this they also seem to be affray into both ice-cream and the local variant known as an “ilocos Cooler”, which for all intents is also just a local variant of “halo halo”, which I will deal with in an other article……

Personally though I am just happy with I get to known back my street food with a fizzy pop served in a glass bottle.

Batac, come for the dead dictator, stay for the empanadas…..