The Highland Agriculture and Resources Research Development Consortium (HARRDEC), based at the Benguet State University initiated a program on the commercialization of Etag or “inasin” a salted meat delicacy from native pigs, a pork-based ethnic food delicacy of the Cordilleras. This project is led by Consortium Director Summerright B. Maddul.
The research which started in 2009 is also developing science based value adding interventions to ensure food to promote its commercialization.
Presently, while etag is a delicacy sought for its taste and shelf life lacks standard safety and sanitation to ensure its quality and high marketability according to researchers Sherlilyn B. Balauro and Cynthia Garambas of Benguet State University (BSU).
Etag is prepared by rubbing the meat (cut with the preferred slices) with the bone, fat and all, thoroughly with generous amount of salt. The pieces of meat are hung to dry, either to air or sun, for its curing process.
The best way to cure, however, is by smoking the salted meat by the preferred wood with some herbal leaves for aroma and flavor for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours per day, ensuring that the meat is not reached by the flames and not exposed to excessive heat, for at least two weeks.
The process will make the etag ready for storage for at least a year. The foreigners dubbed etag as the “Igorot smoked meat”. It is primarily used as an ingredient in Cordilleran dishes such as the pinikpikan, a chicken based dish similar to “tinola”. Etag can also be mixed with legumes (mung bean) and other vegetables in the Igorot culture, said Ruth Balani, and Cynthia Garambas, researchers of BSU.
Igorots are known to be meat-eaters. During festive occasions, every part of the pork carcass is used in preparing the various local dishes. The favorite pork-based prepared with etag are consumed with much delight with wine and other locally brewed alcoholic beverages according to BSU researchers.
Dr. Synan Baguio, assistant director for Livelihood Research Division (LRD) I of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD) who is not a native of the Cordillera but has become one because of his surname Baguio (he jokingly said) wants to enhance the livelihood potentials of animal product-based ethnic delicacies through S & T (Science and Technology).
He said that the Cordillerans have produced plenty of native pigs enough to sustain the commercialization of etag and in the event that there will be shortage in the supply of native pigs, the white pigs can substitute them.
But, also according to him, it will be remote because etag should not to be prepared in a large commercial scale in order not to lose its ethnic property as a delicacy to enhance the taste of the Cordillerans’ pork-based recipes. Estrella Z. Gallardo