Posted in Restaurant Hopping, The Flavors of Asia

On Binalot: Meals Wrapped for Convenience

Open me up!

Say this about the cuisines of Asia: each nation on the continent has its own way of toting about their lunches.  There are metal tiffin boxes on the Indian subcontinent and Japan has its o-bento.  Southeast Asians – particularly those in the Malayan Peninsula and the Philippines are known to wrap cooked rice and viands in layers of banana leaves so as to make meals conveniently portable long before the Americans introduced the concepts of Tupperware and lunch boxes.

Remove the paper wrap to reveal the banan leaf bundle within

In some parts of the Philippines, specifically the provinces of Laguna and Batangas in Southern Luzon, these bundles of goodness are called minaluto and are usually toted along by families for summer excursions.  In these modern times, they are known simply as binalot – a rather obvious way of saying that the food has been wrapped (Tagalog: binalot).

Here's the food: Pork Sisig on Rice

Numerous food court stalls, stand-alone diners, and neighborhood carinderias have been serving binalot meals for quite some time now as they are popular, being both tasty and cheap.  For as low as P 65.00 (about US$ 1.38), diners can enjoy a variety of foods served on top of freshly-steamed rice.

Pork and chicken adobo served with a salted duck egg and a fresh tomato is a popular choice, as is sisig, that decadent, highly savory mixture of finely chopped porkloin, pigs’ ears, and cheeks.  Binagoongang baboy, chunks of pork stewed with the classic shrimp paste, is another popular meal.  Beef fanciers, of course, are not ignored by binalot makers as both bistek (beef cutlets cooked with soy, onions, and kalamansi juice) and salpicao (beef tenderloin cooked with garlic) are also available.

Whichever bundle you choose, it’s definitely one that you’ll find satisfying.



Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended in June 2016 These days, she works full time at Philippine Tatler as a features writer under the nom de guerre Marga Manlapig. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel. Follow her on Instagram at @midgekmanlapig.

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