Iligan City’s halang-halang
I finally have dined at the famous halang-halang food stalls at a wet market in Iligan City. This comes as a surprise because although I spent my college years in Iligan, I was only able to visit this part of the city one Saturday evening last August. It was also raining that time so I thought that a hot bowl of spicy soup, or the halang-halang would be the perfect comfort food for the cold evening.
There are actually many stalls that serve the halang-halang but I chose the one which had yellow tables. This was suggested by an old college acquaintance whom I met at the bus station earlier. It was also located farthest from the road and already overlooked the Iligan bay. Like all the other stalls, it has an open air kitchen, a basic dining area and a rugged ambience. This is indeed a culinary adventure for the budget-conscious who would like to pay more for the food rather than the place.
All the stalls serve halang-halang, a spicy soup with beef cuts and innards and bulalo which also had the same soup stock. The only difference I think is that the beef portion of the latter was attached to something that resembles like a bone. By adding chopped chillis and spring onions, the hotness and the over-all flavor may also be adjusted according to one’s taste and preference.
I would have wanted my meat portions to be more tender though. The soup stock also needs some ingredients to perhaps drown out the predominant Ajinomoto flavor. But curiously, no one talked about the halang-halang that evening. Visibly sweating due to the spicyness of the soup, the students and department store staffs that shared the same table with me, talked instead about how their day went. The simple halang-halang soup was strangely, good enough for everyone on that table. Each of us then left for our respective destinations, satisfied and full.