LIST: Top 5 food to try in Coron, Palawan
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo ( - December 12, 2019 - 12:18pm

CORON, Philippines — Virtually no crops grow in Coron Island, the country’s so-called “last ecological frontier” located in Northern Palawan.

As such, fruits and vegetables must be imported from other sources like Manila, so food in Coron is usually more expensive than other Palawan destinations.

But in Bacau Bay Resort in Coron, executive chef Redj Baron has been able to address the challenges of importing ingredients while keeping value for money for dishes.

Besides ordering materials at least a week in advance, the Filipino chef revealed in an interview with how their resort is able to still offer varied cuisines despite challenges in sourcing supplies.

“I want to introduce modern food to Coron. Here, it’s like a province, so I wanted to give that to the people here,” explained the chef from Manila who began cooking at nine years old.

“My grandparents, they love to cook, so I kept on watching them when I was a kid,” shared the chef, who worked with a musical band for 10 years before enrolling at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies.

From a dishwasher at St. Giles Hotel in Makati City for almost a year, Baron was promoted to kitchen helper and line cook, then he moved to be a chef at the Italian kitchen of Asian Development Bank. He even hosted the cooking show “Cook, Eat, Right” on UNTV channel in 2013.

Baron then applied to become the new head chef of Bacau and moved to Coron from Manila with a mission to introduce “modern majestic” cuisine to the island through the resort’s Amihan Restaurant and Pugon Café.

“We want our dishes to be heirloom,” he said of the resort’s prized pieces, “Pinais na Tanigue sa Malunggay at Gata” and award-winning “Lechon Tiyan ng Baboy sa Kamias at Tanglad."

Apart from these, the following are some must-try dishes for Coron visitors.


Grilled Samaral Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

The local fish also known as Rabbitfish or Spinefoot in English grows abundantly in Coron. But locals usually just grill it; in fact, they grill everything in Coron, Baron said.

Thus, the chef gave the famed local delicacy a makeover and turned it into Salt and Pepper Crispy Samaral.

Salt and Pepper Crispy Samaral Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo


Baked Kibao Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Coron’s local clams called Kibao are the juicy and milky highlights of the resort’s signature dishes such as Pasta Aglio Olio con Kibao, Kibao Clear Soup/Bouillabaisse and Baked Kibao.

Pasta Aglio Olio con Kibao Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Enseladang Lato

Seaweed salad or Enseladang Lato Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Since Coron soil is rich in magnesium, only cashews grow in the island. Greens like lettuce are scarce and restaurants have to scramble over only one lettuce supplier, which is a big challenge since vegetable salad is a buffet staple, said Baron.

To address such dilemma, the chef has come up with innovative ways like “Enseladang Lato” or seaweed salad as an alternative to other salad greens.


Grilled Tanigue with Garlic-Calamansi Butter Sauce Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Spanish mackerel or Tanigue is another fish abundant in Coron, so instead of seabass, Chef Redj uses Tanigue in usually seabass-based dishes like Grilled Tanigue with Garlic-Calamansi Butter Sauce.

Sisig Cups and Tanigue Ceviche duet is another must-try.

‘Sinigang na Bagnet,' French-inspired dishes

Sinigang na Bagnet Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

“I like to infuse Filipino food with French, but I don’t infuse, I only use French methods,” the chef explained.

One product of that French method is the resort’s famed “Sinigang na Bagnet,” which the chef said is reminiscent of Michelin-star restaurants wherein soup is poured over the dish from a certain height. 

The “Bagnet” or crispy roasted pork belly dish is widely believed to have originated in Ilocos, a province in Northern Luzon. Chef Redj then gave this traditional Filipino dish a twist by soaking it in a pungent broth before roasting it for half an hour. He then asks guests to pour the sour soup last to retain the pork’s crispiness and freshness.

The French influence continues to the resort’s desserts like the Buko Pandan Panna Cotta and the Creme brulee-style Halo-Halo and Sesame-Cinnamon Sprinkled Turon w/ Rhum Chocolate Sauce Duet. — Video by Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo, editing by Efigenio Toledo IV

Have some 'turon' in Coron: Halo-Halo and Sesame-Cinnamon Sprinkled Turon w/ Rhum Chocolate Sauce Duet Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo
Chocolate Mousse shots and Caramel Genoise Duet Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo

Editor's note: The tour to Coron was hosted by Bacau Bay Resort to promote tourism in the area. At no stage does the host organization has a say on the stories generated from the coverage, interviews conducted, publication date and story treatment. Content is produced solely by following editorial guidelines.

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