Dinakdakan is Ilocano dish made of grilled and boiled pork parts–including the brain

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Dinakdakan is an Ilocano delicacy made with grilled and boiled pork parts—from face or masks, to ears, from liver and tongue. And, of course, pig brain for extra creaminess. Yum!

While that doesn’t sound too appetizing, the dish is delicious when cooked and flavored with calamansi or vinegar dressing with minced ginger, red onions, and chili peppers. When pig brain is unavailable (or you’re just too squeamish for it), mayonnaise is often used as substitute.

While the delicacy originated in the northern part of Luzon, dinakdakan has become popular in practically every part of the country. Go to your neighborhood karinderya and chances are they would be offering the dish.

Photo by Kawaling Pinoy Recipe Blog

Dinakdakan is ideal as a main course in a meal or a pulutan (beer chow, food that goes well with drinks). When it comes to taste, the dish is equal parts salty, tangy, and spicy (depending on how much chili you add). It kind of resembles sisig, another Filipino dish.

Some might say that the delicacy isn’t the most palatable or presentable Filipino dish, especially for the untrained palate. But that’s subjective, entirely up to an individual’s preference. In fact, some high end restaurants have begun serving dinakdakan.

There are many ways to make dinakdakan, with versions varying on different localities. There are those who prefer to use other cuts of meat (like pork liempo). There are even those who’ve experimented with with chicken dinakdakan.

Photo by Alizza Mistades

Preparing dinakdakan is relatively easy. The meat parts are boiled until tender. They are then grilled before being chopped and mixed with other ingredients.

If you’re visiting the Philippines, we highly recommend you try dinakdakan, along with other delicious Filipino dishes such as kare-kare, dinuguan, or bulalo. A visit to the country is simply not complete without trying these Pinoy favorites.

Kenneth M. del Rosario
Kenneth has been writing for the Philippine Daily Inquirer for more than 17 years, covering travel, food, motoring, technology, real estate, and business, among others.