Kalinga, Benguet and Sagada Rice Varieties

I am always on the lookout for unusual varieties of rice and mtrice1am increasingly amazed by how little the average consumer, including myself, knows about this fantastic grain. I have two previous rice entries here and here for those that are curious. While I can safely say I have consumed at least 100 different bottles or types of wine in my lifetime, 20 different types of apples and perhaps over 100 different types of seafood, I have probably only eaten at most, 20 or 30 different varieties of rice… and I eat rice nearly every single day! On a recent trip through the new Tiendesitas Mall on C5 near Ortigas Avenue, I spied 3 interesting varieties of rice on offer in the food section. First, I found a red rice variety from Kalinga that had a stunning color and beautiful grains. At PHP50 a kilo, it was not cheap but if grown by traditional methods and trekked up hills or through rice terraces, I don’t mind the premium…

I also found a Benguet rice called Balatinao at PHP60 a kilo. mtrice2Again, one of many, many varieties of rice grown in that region under difficult conditions and perhaps one that dates back hundreds if not thousands of years since the terraces were created… Finally, the priciest find but also the most intriguing is this murky, olivish-grey rice (photo at right) that the vendor said was a variety of malagkit (sticky rice) called Inuruban from Sagada, Mountain Province (not sure how this is related to the Inuruban from Tarlac). Apparently, this rice has been pre-cooked and dried and is stewed with coconut milk and sugar and served as a dessert or sweet. She said not to rinse it before cooking but it does look a bit grungy. I haven’t tried cooking it yet so I don’t know if it’s worth the PHP70 a kilo asking price. They only had a few more kilos of this variety left so I got some just to try out.


20 Responses

  1. ooooh, you lucky you! i’d love to have been there and would have bought a package of each. now are these seasonal grains or would they be available year round?

  2. Good to read about rice varieties – if i see one i’ve never tried before in a shop in England i buy it, but our choice isn’t as great as yours. That Balatinao looks especially interesting.

  3. stef, definitely seasonal and usually in very small quantities that make it to Manila. For the most part, the rarer grains stay up North and never make it to Manila. lorenzo, amazing what variety the country has to offer but we just don’t appreciate it for the most part…

  4. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but wanted to let you and others who knew Jesus Armas know that he passed away the other day. If you’re interested, I’ll let you know when the mass is. We’re still planning it with his family. I think it’s tentatively set on the 15th? Then maybe a celebration of his life. Thanks. You can delete this msg if you want. I can email you the details but don’t have your email address.

  5. Frayed, please post details of arrangements if you would like, I will leave it up for others who may be interested. If you would rather do it privately, send the details to me by email and any readers can send a query to me and I will forward the details. Our condolences to the family…

  6. Its nice to read about rice varieties. I’ve been really looking for such organic rice. I heard about black rice, they said its the best organic rice in the market and really expensive about Php100 per kilo or more if Im not mistaken. Iam in search of it and someone told me its available at Shopwise. Have you also tried black rice? I also want to know where I can probably buy different varieties of rice. Thanks!

  7. Farid, its amazing how many different kinds of rice they are… and flavor and texture vary dramatically when eaten side by side. Tulip, most major wet markets have rice dealers that are increasingly carrying a better variety. I have heard of black rice but haven’t tried it. Deep purple rice is good and used for suman…that I have tried. Farmers market in QC, the rice dealer at Market!Market! in Taguig and the Saturday FTI market all have rice dealers that carry unusual stuff…

  8. Hi Marketman, I am a regular reader though this is my first comment. May I just add that the best rice variety Ive tried is the KALINAYAN of Samar? Wow, the aroma is amazing :) It will make you eat more and more! If you cook it, you wash it just once and in a gentle swirling motion only – to retain the aroma. Once it boils, your kitchen will surely have that super pleasant aroma, and wait til you taste it – sarap!

  9. Sadly, no. Once in a while i ask my family to send me but have yet to see that variety in any market here in Manila. Sad to say, one of my frustrations is that food from my hometown is so damn unappreciated simply because no one even attempts to make it readily available. But hey, I will let you in if it ever gets to Manila through regional food fairs.

  10. PHP 60 for the Balatinao and PHP 50 for the Kintoman (that’s the name of the red rice variety you saw I think) at Tiendesitas?
    They aren’t that much more expensive that if you were to buy them at Baguio City’s public market.

    Thanks for the tip!

  11. Inuruban- means grilled in open flames while the rice is still in stalk just cut from the rice field and must be young. and then pounded in wooden boatlike container they called it “alsong” some alsong are also made from stone carved like a big tumbler.then they separate the husk by using “bilao”. the inuruban rice is ready to eat because it’s already cooked in the flames or you can make a rice cake by cooking it with coconut milk and sugar. sadly this rice has been discontinued in some parts in the north due to perhaps it’s preparation is somewhat a little bit a pain in the buttttt.in fact the last time i ate some of it was about 52 years ago.i doubt it if would see this kind of rice again. by the way this rice is similar to “pinipig” in tagalog regions particularly in Bulacan. but got the taste of it in Malabon. but inuruban has different taste and texture and it taste better.

  12. tiendesitas are small variety store,commonly called sari-sari store. they’re everywhere.

  13. David, the tiendesitas referred to here is a small one level mall specializing in native products, foodstuff, antiques etc. It is on the southwest corner of C5 and Ortigas Avenue. I believe it was developed by the Ortigas family and has several dozen vendors, at least the last time I was there…

  14. Hello, everyone! If you are interested in organic rice and have tried the market, you may as well try our tinawon organic rice in Ifugao. Our rice products from this UNESCO World Heritage Area are diverse as we have many kinds of organic rice cultivated in our rice terraces. We have two major categories- the glutinous and non-glutinous. Under these two classifications are varieties which come in different colours and aroma. We have the native non-glutinous rice which is beady in size but aromatic. We have the red rice and the hairy rice. These are gifts from the gods as our elders say. We have glutinous rice colored purple, red and white. We also have breeds between these varieties hence you will not get bored in comparing taste, flavor, aroma and colour. Plus, a study shows that Ifugao tinawon rice is high in iron, among other vitamins and minerals. Just mail me if you’re interested. I work at the Provincial Government of Ifugao under the Office of the Provincial Administrator as Project Development Officer.

  15. Its very heartening to hear of the original varieties of rice as the genetically engineered hybrids developed of late do not give out the real taste and flavour of the original varieties. quicker and abundant yields can not compensate the loss of quality



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