Carabeef foods take center stage in Ecija feast

Caratouille, Pigar-pigar and Carabeef Patties in Hawaiian Salsa with Buttered Potatoes.

These are the names of foods prepared out of carabeef (carabao’s meat) which were showcased during the “Pistang Kalabaw” (Carabao Fiesta) held at the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) National Headquarters in the Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija on March 25 in connection with agency’s observance of its 22 founding anniversary.

All three foods won first, second and third places, respectively, in the cooking contest that highlighted carabao’s meat and participated by housewife-members of PCC-assisted dairy carabao cooperatives

“We are holding this carabao fiesta to showcase advances in carabao research and innovations,” Dr. Arnel Del Barrio, acting PCC executive director, said in his remarks before the actual competition.

“This is the innovation part of the fiesta, the other is about the gains in biotechnology and its application in the livestock industry,” he added.

In the spacious covered court inside the 20-hectare complex of the PCC, 12 teams composed of two cooks each, with cooking utensils, ingredients and stoves, took eager-beaver stances, awaiting the signal for the start of the early morning competition. For more than an hour, after the signal was given, the aroma of various kinds of food recipes wafted the air as hundreds of guests milled around, keenly watching and awaiting results.

Other carabeef foods entered in the contest carried names such as Creamy Carabeef, Carabeef Steak, Carabeef Mushroom, Sweet Carabeef, Thai Chilli Pepper Carabeef, New Season’s Carabeef, Carabeef Broccoli, and Creamy Carivera.

Soon after the results were announced, most of the guests got a taste of the different cooked foods.

“The name ‘caratouille’ came from the name “carabao”, which is the Philippine term for the swamp water buffalo, and “touille’’ a French word for “to stir”,” explained Princess Somero, who prepared the recipe in behalf of Eastern Primary Multi-Purpose Cooperative in San Jose City. Among the ingredients she used were pineapple juice, curry and chili powders, sugar, oyster sauce and kesong puti (white cheese).

Other guest milled around fiesta-like decorated booths of various cooperatives and establishments engaged in the production of various kinds of milk products. They were offered free-tasting of the best known milk-products as well as the newly-developed ones emerging in the market.

Marita Carlos, a representative of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquaculture and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), said her agency co-sponsored the event in keeping with their FIESTA project.

FIESTA, she said, stands for “Farms and Industry Encounters through the Science and Technology Agenda”.

It is a strategy to push the commercialization of science and technology (S&T)-based products to their target markets, she added.

Del Barrio said as the dairy farmers intensified their participation in the carabao development program, an increasing volume of local carabeef has been appearing in the market.

“It is on top of the main product of carabao dairying by our local farmers. Carabeef production has gone up from 11 percent to 16 percent while carabao’s milk production has gone up to 34% or about 6.2 million liters of milk a year. They mean big income for our farmers,” the PCC head stated.