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; 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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December 5, 2018


sara-sara - (sará-sára; Cebuano [Kidapawan City, Cotabato0] and Ilonggo beverage; dw Ilonggo sara [strain]) [n.] roasted corn coffee.

Not exactly a coffee, but a cheaper substitute to real ground coffee, or let me say it's the "poor man's coffee." It is served and taken like coffee. 

Sara-sara only tastes like coffee  but does not smell like coffee, sans the caffeine sought by coffee lovers.

It has to be brewed in pots on the stove if you do not have an electric-operated coffee maker. If you do have, you need to clean it right away before the paste of sara-sara would stick stubbornly in there. 

The powdered roasted corn, when mixed in hot water would become like a gruel or paste because it's heavily consists of starch.

Sara-sara does not smell like coffee, but a burnt corn.

The hot beverage may taste like coffee but not exactly that of coffee and sans the caffeine sought by coffee lovers. 

I found this sara-sara sold in the public market of Kidapawan City, Cotabato last April 25, 2018.

The word sara-sara is of Ilonggo origin, used to name a ground roasted rice, not corn, usually mixed with cacao (tablea) and other hot beverages, including coffee and soya bean powder as extender. 

Sara-sara is from the base word sára, Ilonggo for straining or filtering liquid from debris or residue. It is necessary to strain the brew from the pot when you pour it into the cup or glass.

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November 25, 2018

gatang albacora

gatang albacora - (ga-táng al-ba-có-ra; Tagalog and Caviteño dish; dw Tag. gata [coconut milk] + albacora [albacore]) [n.] albacore tuna in coconut milk.
ginataang albakora in Tagalog
In one of my visits in the public market of Cavite City, I found this small carenderia behind the market. Delving over its array of turo-turo dishes, I was attracted to this gatang albacora being that I'm a big fan of dishes with coconut milk. This one is a bit picante (spicy hot).

I delved into it and learned from the cook that she cooked first the fish ala pinaksiw in pure vinegar with bawang (garlic), luya (ginger), sili (chili), and asin (salt). After few minutes of boiling, kakang gata (coconut cream) is added, followed with cutlets of siling haba (green finger chili). Pinaksiw way of cooking removes the fishy odor of albacora and enhanced the taste of the fish. 

Adding kakang gata or that thick pure coconut milk adds a creamy and nutty flavor that you cannot resist sipping the sauce. 

Each fish is also wrapped in dahon ng saging (banana leaf) to keep them from sticking to the pot and to each other. Plus it adds the aromatic flavor of the leaf. 

This one reminds me of my version of Visayan linabog dish, the linabog nga tilapia. Both ways of cooking are almost similar only if the albacora here was fried first before adding the kakang gata.

Pass the rice, please.

albacora (al-ba-ko-ra; Tagalog and Caviteño sea fish /seafood) (also spelled as albakora in Tagalog) [n.] albacore ( Thunnus alalunga) is a species of tuna with unusually long pectoral fins which include some species of yellow fin tuna in temperate and tropical waters across the globe, particularly in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans, and in the seas around them. Known also as “longfined tuna” in Hawaii, and “longfin tuna” in Canada, Australia, and South Africa.

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