`` Tinapa Tales - Calbayog's Time-Honored Flavor – An Asian Traveler Tinapa Tales - Calbayog's Time-Honored Flavor - An Asian Traveler

Tinapa Tales - Calbayog's Time-Honored Flavor


Tucked away in a narrow passageway or a small street off the main road, found in residential areas of Calbayog lies a humble abode, a secret among locals, where the city's culinary treasure is crafted—Tinapa (Smoked Fish).

Contrary to the bustling market scenes, my Tinapa journey began in this unassuming house. It's here that a family business thrives, tending to rows of glistening smoked fish with a dedication that spans generations. They are the artisans of the renowned Ping Pings Tinapa, a name whispered among those in the know.

Each piece of Tinapa from this house is a testament to the city's history, a flavor narrative painted with the smoky strokes of local woods. This technique, refined over centuries, is what sets Calbayog's Tinapa apart, making it a sought-after delicacy for both locals and travelers.

Tinapa, a beloved Filipino delicacy, is traditionally made by smoking fish, and it has deep roots in the country's culinary history. The term "tinapa" means "prepared by smoking," and it's derived from the root word "tapa" in Philippine languages, which originally referred to fish or meat preserved by smoking¹. The dish is said to have originated from the city of Lingayen in Pangasinan province, Philippines, known for its large and bountiful fish market.

Tinapa has a distinctive smoky flavor that comes from the smoking process, and it’s often enjoyed for breakfast. The taste of tinapa can be described as rich and savory, with a good salty taste due to the brining process that precedes smokingIt’s also known for being moist and tender, making it a popular choice for various Filipino dishesThe smoky flavor enhances the natural taste of the fish, giving it an exquisite and unique taste that many people enjoy.

Tinapa can be found almost anywhere in the country, but as for cities that are famous for selling Tinapa, Calbayog City in Samar is particularly celebrated for this cuisine. It's served on special occasions, given as pasalubong (a homecoming gift), and is a significant part of the local food culture. One notable store in Calbayog is Pingping’s, which has become a popular brand for Tinapa in the region. Additionally, the markets of Orion and the capital city of Balanga in Bataan are known for offering a variety of fresh smoked Tinapa.

The traditional craft of creating Tinapa in Calbayog involves a meticulous process where fish, typically scad or milkfish, are first brined in a saltwater solution to season and preserve them. After brining, they’re air-dried to prepare the surface for smoking. The fish are then smoked over a special blend of local woods, which imbues them with a unique flavor profile distinctive to Calbayog. This artisanal method, passed down through generations, results in the golden-hued Tinapa, a smoky delicacy that encapsulates the city’s rich culinary heritage.

Each visit to Calbayog is incomplete without a stop at this house, where we are greeted  with the finest Tinapa. It's here that we pack a piece of history, a smoky slice of Calbayog's storied past, to share with those eager to taste its legacy.

So, dear reader, if you ever wander into the vibrant city of Calbayog, seek out the hidden corners where Tinapa is not just made but celebrated. It's not merely a local delicacy; it's a smoky whisper of history, a flavor that beckons you to partake in its timeless tale.


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