GROWING up on a farm exposed me to food that city folks would refer to as “exotic.” Our vegetable dishes always had the aromatic “sangig” or Lemon Basil. We had chicken tinola with fresh green papaya slices and the leaves of the Kolikot, a small chilli native to the Philippines (Capsicum frutescens).
Since we also lived near the sea, we had an almost daily supply of sea urchins and tiny octopus which tasted so good as Inun-unan. My Lola often made Bukayo because coconut trees abound. My Lolo Otik’s old house was surrounded by fruit trees, so we had these fruits in season: Chico, Lumboy, Tambis, Buongon, Saging, Caimito and Nangka.
Nangka was not eaten solely as a fruit. My Mom liked to cook the mature unripe fruit either as Tinuno-an or Kinilaw. This usually happens when the farmer would inform Mommy that a Nangka is ready for harvesting.
Nangka is harvested just before it ripe or the bats will get to it first. It is cut down from the tree and made to ripen in one’s kitchen. If the Nangka fruit is not really big Mommy would make Kinilaw or Tinuno-an out of it.
The technique when opening a Nangka is to wipe the hands with cooking oil first so the sticky sap will not stick to your hands.
The same is done to the knife to be used in removing the thick rough skin and cuttingit up into small pieces. (Nowadays people just use disposable plastic gloves.)
For both Tinuno-an and Kinilaw, the Nangka is boiled until soft, then squeezed to remove excess water before using
The Tinuno-an is sauteed with garlic, onions, tomatoes and ginger.
Then the pre-boiled and drained Nangka slices are added together with the coconut milk. While the mixture is simmering, the sweetish aroma of coconut milk and ginger permeates the house.
In the mountainous part of the province, Nangka is called the Karne sa Bukid. It can be a substitute for pork. In fact, there is a Humba nga Nangka dish.
The Kinilaw nga Nangka is made exactly like the Fish Kinilaw. Just substitute the Nangka for the fish. Make sure that the Nangka slices are well squeezed, otherwise your Kinilaw will be water-logged.
But the Nangka is more known for its beautiful ripe golden yellow orbs. Not to mention that the unmistakable scent of ripe Nangka will no doubt get your attention. Most people like the Nangka made into jam or preserves. This of course prolongs its shelf life.
But I suggest you tryit this way. Chill the pitted Nangka orbs for at least an hour. Then place them in a bowl nice enough for serving and pour a jigger or two of brandy. Chill until you are ready to eat it. I promise you an experience you will long remember and appreciate. When the scent of the Nangka marriesthat of the brandy, you will thank the heavens for being born in Cebu, which grows the sweetest Nangka, and equally thank the French for producing brandy. You could be more decadent and choose to use Cognac like I do.
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