April 1, 2011

Study Results in Commercializing Igorot Etag

By LYN RAMO

BAGUIO CITY — A university-based research institution is about to introduce etag, a Cordillera preserved pork, in commercial scale. They would infuse it with value-adding interventions to ensure food safety, quality and high market acceptability for the native delicacy.

Launched in a recent press conference at the Benguet State University (BSU), the initiative to bring etag to more consumers began from a research in 2009.

Besides promoting etag in commercial quantity and quality, the Agriculture and Resource Research and Development Consortium (HARRDEC) also seeks to develop handling and packaging methods to prolong shelf life and enhance acceptability to all types of consumers, including local and foreign tourists.

Etag, Igorot ham to some, is traditionally smoked or sun-dried salted pork from native pigs. Although there are several claims as to its origin, many places in the Cordillera find etag a delectable addition to the pinikpikan, another Igorot delicacy for chicken or duck meat.

Some like the Kankanaey and Bontocs of Sagada call it inasin. Others like the Benguet Ibaloy and Kankanaey call it kiniing or kinuday.

Under whatever name, the etag’s meat processing involves the addition of salt and either smoking or sun-drying for the meat to dry.

Elizabeth Busiley, a native of Sagada, Mountain Province, prepares her inasin by rubbing the meat with a generous amount of rock salt and a little vinegar to prevent flies from swarming on the meat when she hangs it under the sun to dry for at least three hours daily for seven days.

She then hangs the sun-dried meat above her firewood-fed stove to preserve it further. As she needed etag to enhance the flavor of pinikpikan or her vegetable dishes, she just cuts a little from the etag hanging right above the cooking vessel.

By the time the last batch of etag is gone, there are available extra meat from the rituals she is usually asked to attend. In the Cordillera, it is common to see raw pork being distributed to people who attend a funeral ritual and the like. Even during weddings, raw meat from the couple’s parents would be distributed to thank the guests for joining the merry-making.

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