Friday, August 28, 2009

Santol (Sandoricum koetjape)

Santol season is definitely here. Well, in the Philippines at least.

We were fortunate enough that during our recent holiday to the country we were able to get our fill of this “unique” tropical fruit. It’s “unique” in the sense that I’ve never seen them sold anywhere in Australia.

Friends have told me they are sometimes available in an Asian market west of Brisbane but I think they were all just lying.

I find it a little bit difficult to describe this fruit as I don’t think it is similar to anything. The closest, I suppose, is mangosteen. Naturally, other cultures call santol “wild mangosteen”.

The ripe fruit is pleasantly tart but some varieties are too sour to be eaten raw. They can be used as a souring agent or made into preserves. One unique Laguna dish is called “sinantolan”. The rind is turned into pulp and mixed with coconut cream and spices. What you then get is a creamy soury dish eaten on its own or as a side to fish and grilled meats.

One morning during that holiday I chanced upon a couple of the neighborhood boys who were picking these fruits from a tree outside the house. What follows are just a series of photographs of that morning’s affair.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Inihaw na Pusit (Char-Grilled Squid) ala Mr J

I love cooking, no doubt about that. But during our recent holiday to the Philippines I took a break from the kitchen as well. Thanks to my cousin-in-law Joel there was no need to get my hands dirty as he always guarantees very tasty meals. Not only is his food lip smacking good he always manages to prepare them in no time at all.

We bought a few kilos of really fresh large squid on our trip to Dalahican. It would be a “waste” if we make “adobo” of such high quality squid. Grilled was the only way to go! Mr J gladly agreed. He did it all from cleaning to firing up the coals to plating! Thanks once again! If only we could fly you here! Someday…

The recipe below is straight from Mr J, verbatim. Walang binatbat ang Ilonggo Grill to his Char-Grilled Pusit! Do try it! More Mr J recipes in future posts!

Char-Grilled Pusit

Pusit (squid), medium sized, cleaned

Diced Tomatoes, Onions, Salt and Pepper, Optional Wansoy (coriander)

Half cup Soy sauce, 3 tbsp UFC banana catsup, 3tbsp sugar (brown preferred)
Chopped garlic, Oil

Grill over charcoal while basting for about 5-7 minutes each side depending on how hot the grill is. Make sure to achieve some pretty nice grill marks.

Can also be cooked through in an oven.

Serve with TLC!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Auction of a Thresher Shark – Dalahican Fish Port, Lucena City

Thresher shark is classified as a “vulnerable specie” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This means it is now facing a “high risk of extinction in the wild.” I did not know this when I was taking photographs but this fact made me a bit unsure about posting this. But the thing is, it happened and I was there to witness it.

The day’s catch comes to the fish port in trickles. There was no big flood of produce. What I saw instead was a constant flow of goods as the boats arrive at the port. To my surprise one boatload included a thresher shark. This must be a regular occurrence as the locals did not seem that fascinated. When it was placed on auction it only received 3 bids.

In 2008 the province Batangas tried to pass a law prohibiting the hunt of thresher sharks. I don’t know where that’s at. If it had been passed does it mean then that it does not apply anywhere else in the Philippines? I’m no law expert. Anyone out there care to enlighten me?

The shark is presented to the market

The owner starting the auction process

Gathering interest from bidders

Two bids so far (rolled pieces of paper)

Checking the bids

P3,100, P2,500 and P350

The winner claims his prize

Meat @ P150/kilo, Fins @ P1,000/kilo

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dalahican Fish Port, Lucena City – Fruits of the Sea

This is the first of a series of posts focusing on what my mom-in-law delightedly expressed as the “highlight of her holiday.” No recipes. Just a series of photographs.

One very early morning I accompanied her to the Fish Port of Barangay Dalahican in Lucena City. There are only a few things that excite Inay and one of them is fresh seafood. Looking at the photos below it is not hard to see why she described that morning as such.

Calamansi (Citrofortunella macrocarpa)

One thing I definitely miss ‘bout not living in the Philippines is the fact that I can’t get Calamansi (Citrofortunella macrocarpa) wherever and whenever I want it (which is “all the time”). This citrus variety is by no means non-existent down under but they are not plentiful and they are also seasonal. Calamansi is excellent as a drink and widely used also as a dipping sauce.

I’ve tried to grow my own but for some reason (my non-green thumb, I suppose) I have been less than successful. The fruits of my calamansi shrub fall off before they even mature. Any advice from anyone out there on how I can prevent this from happening?

To make up for how much I missed calamansi I made sure I got a dose of it on a regular basis during a recent trip to the Philippines. Thank God for the couple of calamansi trees in my mother-in-law’s property that are teeming with fruit I literally had access to this prized produce right in my backyard.

To make a glass of calamansi drink you need the following:

4-5 calamansi (you can add or reduce this depending on how tart you want your drink to be)
2 tablespoons of sugar (again, adjust to taste)
Lots of ice

1. Cut the calamansi in half and squeeze the juice into a tall glass. You can get rid of the seeds if you like but I really do not mind them.
2. Add the sugar to the juice and mix well.
3. Add about half a glass of water and mix well.
4. Fill the glass with ice.