Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Summer and Smooth Yellow Mango Salsa

Like a juvenile lover, summer, it seems,  came early this year. And so,  sweaty and lethargic, here I sit writing about how I spent my summers.

My childhood summers were always spent playing cops and robbers with my cousins using aratiles* trees as our base where, if we were the cops, we "incarcerated" the robbers. If you saw me climbing up an aratiles tree, you'd easily agree with Darwin that humans came from monkeys. 

My cousins and I put my grandparents' aratiles tree to good use every summer. We would re-fabricate the palo china New Year noisemakers shaped like guns into aratiles launchers by fashioning rubber bands into slingshot-like contraptions . The sturdy aratiles stem would be clipped, and the rubber band would hold back the fruit and launch it  to the target. 

The green, unripe aratiles fruit which is hard and small like an airsoft pellet, was for scaring off any attackers. They hurt like hell. The red-orange ripe fruits were ammunition reserved for pelting the enemy until they were covered in the sweet, gooey flesh of the fruit. I can't really recall how one wins the game anymore. I just remember always being hosed down after each game.
We  would also make aratiles shake and aratiles ice candy using condensed milk and water. Aratiles has never been sold commercially because of its abundance and a seemingly common dislike for the  texture of the fruit. I like eating them fresh when they are manibalang (half-ripe), like a pearl-sized glossy Fuji apple and firm yet sweet and soft enough to pop in your mouth. The skin would be a bit tough but I swallowed them anyway.

Aside from the aratiles, summer fruits that bring good memories of summer are the caimito, macopa, siniguelas, balimbing  and chico (Please see below for other common names of these fruits) . 

It was always during summer, too, that we would get baskets of ripe mangoes from relatives in the province. Though I  haven't tasted all mango varieties, I think many will agree when I say that there is nothing like Philippine mangoes. 

The saccharine fragrance and the syrupy golden yellow juice that trickles from the plump cheeks when you bite into it always remind me of happy summers past. 

When you've tasted Philippine mangoes, you will understand the meaning of sun-ripened sweetness.

So here is my mango recipe. It doesn't sound like much but it is great with tortilla chips, blanched vegetables (okra and eggplant), grilled meat, poultry and fish and adobo.  It keeps for about two weeks if refrigerated.

Smooth Yellow Mango Salsa (Sweet and Spicy)

1 1/2 cups ripe tomatoes
1  cup ripe mango
1/2 cup onions
1/2 cup cucumber
2 cloves garlic
5 tbsps yellow mango puree
2 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
a sprig of fresh coriander
a sprig of green onion leaves
1/8 teaspoon sun-dried and crushed chili pepper
3 tablespoons honey

Just blend in everything in a fruit processor. If you don't have one chop and mix in everything. This should be mildly hot. Keep refrigerated.


*ARATILES Muntingia calabura. Common names include (English) Jamaican cherry, Panama berry, Singapore cherry, Strawberry tree; (Spanish) bolaina yamanaza, cacaniqua, capulín blanco, nigua, niguito, memizo or memiso; and (Filipino) aratilis, aratiles, manzanitas.

CAIMITO Chrysophyllum cainito. Common names include caimito or estrella (Spanish);  cainito or ajara (Portuguese); caimite or caimitier, pied caimite or caimitier a feuilles d'or, pomme surette (French); cainit (Virgin Islands); caimite or kaimit (Trinidad & Tobago); star-plum (Barbados);  caimo, caimo morado or caimito maduraverde (Colombia); guayabillo (El Salvador); aguay or olivoa (Argentina); Golden Leaf or Star Apple (USA) and "chicle durian" (Singapore).

MACOPA Syzygium samarangense. Common names include wax apple, love apple, java apple, chomphuMận (in Vietnam), bellfruit (Taiwan), Jamaican Apple ( Jamaica),jambu air (in Indonesia), water apple, mountain apple, jambu air or"water guava" (Malaysia), wax jambu, rose apple, bell fruit (USA),  jamrul (India), and jumbu (Sri Lanka).

SINIGUELAS Spondias purpurea. Common names include  it is called jobo, yellow mombin or hog plum (Caribbean and Mexico); Spanish plum or gully plum (Jamaica); .hog plum or Ashanti plum (Ghana); iyeye (Nigeria) golden apple or Java plum, cajá (Brazil) and makawk (Thai.)

BALIMBING Averrhoa carambola. Common names are carambola, Chinese gooseberry and star fruit.

CHICO Manilkara achras. Common names include,  chikoo, chiku , sobeda or sapota (India and Pakistan); Sabudheli (Maldives), sawo (Indonesia); hồng xiêm, lồng mứt, xa pô chê or  Siamese persimmon (Vietnam)); lamoot (Thailand, Laos and Cambodia); Sapodilla (Guayana, Trinindad & Tobago);  naseberry (Jamaica);  sapathilla or rata-mi (Sir Lanka); zapote (Colombia, El Salvador, Dominican republic); níspero (Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Dominican Republic); dilly or nasberry (Bahamas);  chico sapote (Mexico and USA); ciku or sawo nilo (Malaysia)

Thursday, February 18, 2010


This is more of a photo diary of my trip to Bohol with A. a few months back. 

I only take photos with my celphone camera for this blog, so no dissing please :)

Though I'm  quite happy with my Sony Ericsson phone camera, I do  hope to replace it soon.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

The UP Beach House barbecue and Fat Jerks

Recently, A. and myself found ourselves meeting up at the steps of the University of the Philippines' (UP) library for a lunch date at the Beach House.

The name is a misnomer as there's no sand and surf within sight and the house is no more than a sturdy shack with tables where diners eat al fresco underneath the shade of the old trees. The open grill where they cook hundreds of sticks everyday is constantly spewing white smoke that seems to drip with fat. It triggers some Pavlovian response from me and A. We rush to fall in line, our stomachs rumbling for the soft, oily meat and the rice and the extra rice.
Second after placing our trays on  the table, we dig in and quietly enjoy the meal and the cool January breeze.

The meal had me burping and thinking about barbecues. When I was in high school, I had spent several summers selling barbecues off the side walk of our rented Quezon City apartment. Pork and chicken innards (isaw) and pork barbecue sold for a few pesos and earned me a few regulars from a nearby printing press and househelps from the block. I was doing pretty well until one day a classmate, one of them cool dudes, drove by with his cousins and bought from my barbecue stand. So there I was...a sticky, sweaty fourteen year-old smelling of burnt pork, greatly mortified that someone from school would see me in my best impersonation of Cinderella. I don't think the cool school dudes noticed me at all but I closed shop after that day, leaving my proud parents wondering about my decision to quit the business.

Like many of my horrible high school moments, my time as a barbecue vendor has become a funny anecdote. But my love for barbecue hasn't taken a back seat, though.

I had recently tried out a dry rub recipe of Jamaican chicken jerks and did the same for pork belly (liempo). So here it is... my recipe for Fat Jerks.


1 kilo pork belly cut into 1/2 inch thick by 3 inch wide slices
3 teaspoons allspice  
3 teaspoons thyme  
5 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons nutmeg 
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon dried chili pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Mix all the ingredients, Add in more dried chili pepper if you want  hotter fat jerk. Make sure the pork pieces is not dripping with water before rubbing in the mixture. Rub well and make sure the mixture covers up the pork. Let it marinate for at least an hour. You can keep the mixture overnight, in the refrigerator if you want.
Skewer the Fat Jerks and wrap them in aluminum foil, 3 to 4 sticks. Grill in high heat for about 20 minutes. Take out from the fire and unwrap. Place in the high heat grill again for 5 minutes. Use the pork dripping in the aluminum wrap to brush on the pork if it seems to get a bit dry.

Serve with a side dish of rice and fruit flavored salsa.