December 27, 2018

alugbati sauce

alugbati sauce - (a-lug-bá-ti sows; Caviteño and Tagalog sauce /dip; dw Tag. alugbati [Malabar nightshade, a.k.a. Malabar spinach] + Eng. sauce) [n.] dip sauce with alugbati fruit extract.

A sauce made with root crop, butter, broth, sugar, salt, pepper, and other seasonings, and colored bright red-purple with extract of ripe alugbati fruits. Alugbati is Malabar nightshade in English, though in some other parts of the world, it is also known as the Malabar spinach or Ceylon spinach.  Root crop used as a base in the sauce can be of any white root crop, such as cassava, gabi (taro), white yam, patatas (potato), or white camote (sweet potato). The broth can be of chicken, beef, or pork.


The alugbati sauce of Tagaytay City's Siglo Modern Filipino resto

I first saw this bright red-purple sauce as the creation of Siglo Modern Filipino restaurant in Tagaytay City two years ago. This caught me by surprise. Like you, I wondered how comes the alugbati becomes too red-purple in this spread. Aha! That must be because we only eat too much of the green leaves. We forgot or most of us are not aware that alugbati vine, after some time, would bear plenty of never-ending flowers and fruits. When ripe, the fruits produce deep red-purple extracts and this for sure was used in the alugbati sauce.

There are different ways on how to extract the juice of ripe alugbati fruits. The best way is hard press. You can use garlic crusher for small amounts. For large amount, use hydraulic press like those used in squeezing the coconut milk in the wet market, or the electric press juicer (see Youtube video with the link, below). 

Alugbati fruits (Malabar nightshade or Ceylon spinach; sc.name: Basella alba)

I remember when young girls in our barrio would use it to stain their nails pretending it as Cutex. In China, the pigment of alugbati fruit extract is also used to dye fabrics into purple. Likewise, for a long time, it is considered a non-toxic and environmentally friendly ink and coloring material. The fact that ripe alugbati fruits are very much edible.

Some more research led me to rediscover how to create this sauce. The constitution base of the sauce can be any white root crop mentioned above. I pick camote as the good choice for its natural sweetness. Having a white base is like having a white canvass to a purple paint. Butter is added to smoothen the texture and enhance the broth's flavorful taste.

Another way is to use mayonnaise as the base. This could be easiest as you have to simply add the alugbati fruit extract into it and mix well. You may add some sugar or honey to sweeten the dip. Being that mayonnaise is partly made with vinegar, the natural purpleness of the dip is enhanced and would stay longer, as the vinegar would help preserve the alugbati fruit extract.


The sauce can also be used as filling or spread in bread, biscuits and other pastries. Also for the green salad.



If you made much alugbati extract, you can use the extra juice to color other food. Try it in your bread, cake, pasta noodles, hot cake, and other pastries. It's a natural food color to treasure with. Can also be taken as a healthy refreshing drink by adding freshly squeezed juice of sugar cane or mixed with other sweet drinks or fruit juices. You know, having said that, I am already giving you more good ideas on what to do next about the goodness of alugbati's color. 

Share your thoughts about alugbati sauce. Write a comment, below. 



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