From cheesecake to sisig: Bold flavors showcased in Puto Biñan 2.0 cook-off challenge

Published May 23, 2022, 2:56 PM

by Carla Bauto Deña

BIÑAN, Laguna – Food enthusiasts from 12 barangays showcased their culinary creativity at Puto Biñan 2.0: The Puto Biñan Cook-Off Challenge held at the Sentrong Pangkultura ng Biñan on Monday, May 23.

The event is part of the 12th Puto Latik Festival 2022.

The Puto Biñan Cook-Off Challenge (CARLA BAUTO DEÑA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Each team was given P500 to shop for ingredients and two hours to create a unique topping for the classic rice cake.

Participants did not shy away from showcasing bold flavors. While some chose sweet ingredients like yema, cheesecake, and jackfruit, others gave the rice cake a savory twist with sisig, bopis, katsu, and pancit.

Entries for Puto Biñan 2.0: The Puto Biñan Cook-Off Challenge (CARLA BAUTO DEÑA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Entries for Puto Biñan 2.0: The Puto Biñan Cook-Off Challenge (CARLA BAUTO DEÑA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Restaurateur, author and vlogger Chef RV Manabat, who was one of the judges in the competition, said Puto Biñan can serve as a good canvas for the right flavors.

“Since puto is made of rice, any flavor component that will complement or magme-marry doon sa natural flavor ng kanin (of rice),” Chef RV told the Manila Bulletin.

This year’s winner is Barangay Canlalay. Their winning creation is Puto Buttered Cake Pinipig, featuring rice crispies, which is the main product of their barangay.

BCHATO and competition judges award Barangay Canlalay’s Puto Buttered Cake Pinipig as this year’s winner of Puto Biñan 2.0: The Puto Biñan Cook-Off Challenge

Barangay San Vicente’s Puto Bicol Express Gising-gising with Cacang Gata con Latik is awarded first runner-up and Barangay Malaban’s Malaban Puto Biñan Langka-Tulad is second runner-up.

The importance of food in culture and tourism

During his speech at the awarding ceremony, Biñan City Culture, History, Arts and Tourism Office (BCHATO) head Bryan Jayson Borja said the event aims to promote Puto Biñan and allow citizens to innovate the city’s main product.

“Ano kaya ang magiging future ng produktong ito? Using the base material, ita-try nating i-reconstruct at i-reinvent and mga posibilidad na pwedeng mangyari sa Puto Biñan (What will be the future of Puto Biñan? Using the base material, we will try to reconstruct and reinvent the possible versions of Puto Biñan),” Borja said.

This year’s Puto Biñan 2.0 Cook-Off Challenge Winner: Barangay Canlalay’s Puto Buttered Cake Pinipig (CARLA BAUTO DEÑA / MANILA BULLETIN)

Myrnalen Calupig Pautan, acting tourism officer of Cavinti, Laguna, who served as a judge in the competition, emphasized the significance of signature delicacies in tourism.

“Very important ang contribution ng food. Kasi doon naa-identify and isang bayan, hindi lang sa mga lugar, kundi sa pagkain din (The contribution of food is very important. Because a town is identified not only by its tourists spots but also by its food,” Calupig Pautan said.

Unlike most modern rice cakes that use a chemical-based leavening agent, Chef RV Manabat said the traditional preparation method makes Puto Biñan unique in flavor.

“Ang preparation nito ay talagang nagpa-panis tayo nang bigas (The process requires us to ferment rice). It’s really the traditional way,” Manabat said.

Merly San Luis of Barangay Canlalay assembles this year’s winning Puto Biñan 2.0 recipe (CARLA BAUTO DEÑA / MANILA BULLETIN)

“When you ask old Biñanenses, hindi nila ipagpapalit and process na ‘yan. Kaya ‘pag tinikman mo, may lasang fermented (They will not exchange the old process for anything. That is why when you sample it, it has a fermented taste).”

Aside from palatability, Ospital ng Biñan Nutritionist-Dietician Alma Aguilar said Puto Biñan also offers nutritional value.

“Since it consists of flour, eggs, milk at cheese, mataas ang kanyang (it has high) nutritional content, more on carbohydrates, fats and protein,” the competition judge told the Manila Bulletin.