Saturday, May 16, 2015


I'm a hybrid bisaya. Born in Davao, I spent a few of my formative years in Iloilo and grew up in Manila. My knowledge of the Sugbuhanon and Hiligaynon languages is so limited and mixed-up, I made a term for it- Carabao Bisaya.

My father speaks in Hiligaynon only to my grandparents, my mom and his friends. Always doing so in his malambing singsong voice. On the other hand, my mom's Sugbuhanon is spewed in a rat-a-tat manner akin to a machine gun being fired by a blind, raging marine. That's when she's not mad.
I grew up understanding them but speaking neither language fluently. When I try to converse, my Ilonggo accent comes out but my limited Cebuano vocabulary only allows me to sputter a three-word sentence.

But whatever speech schizophrenia my parents have given me, they more than made up  for it in the Visayan cooking they've both taught me.

Here's one of the hybrid recipes I learned from both my Ilonggo father and Dabawenya mother.


Kinilaw is the Filipino version of the ceviche where the main ingredient, usually fish, is cured in citrus juices. In kinilaw, the raw fish  is cured in acetic acid. Don't panic that's just the fancy geek work for suka (vinegar).

1/2 kg fresh dilis (fresh water anchovy)
100 mL coconut cream (kakang gata sa lubi) from 2 coconuts, grated
3 tbsp. vinegar (the white sukang paombong or the reddish sukang halin sa tuba)
1 green mango, grated into small pieces
2 pcs onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic,  finely chopped
1 small piece ginger, finely chopped
1 pc siling haba, sliced  (or 2 pcs siling labuyo)


Prepare the fish
Wash  and drain. Then chop off the heads and tails. Fillet by opening the fish in the middle and taking out the bones. Aside from the spine, there are smaller bones in the sides. make sure to take them out, too.  Wash, drain and towel dry. Add a little salt and the vinegar. Set aside in the ref.

Make the coconut cream
Have the coconut grated in the supermarket or wet market.  Put in a bowl and squeeze with your hands to get the creamy liquid. Do not use water to get the kakang gata or the purest coconut cream.

If freshly grated coconut isn't available you can use the canned or packed liquid coconut cream. However, the canned (or boxed) varieties tend to be sweeter and if you know your gata, they won't taste that fresh. I wouldn't use powdered coconut cream as the end result will be watery.
If there is fresh coconut  but no grater to be found, you can always use a melon hand grater.

But expect to be finished after 365 days, so the other way is to scoop out the coconut and put them in the blender.

Prepare the Green Mango and Spices

Cut the green mango. Grate the flesh from each cheek using a spoon. You want to get the acidic juices to come out.
Chop the ginger, garlic and onion finely. Slice the siling haba into 1/4 inch thick slices.  If you want the kinilaw to be really spicy, use siling labuyo.

Mix all ingredients
Bring out the dilis. Add the grated green mango and chopped spices. Mix in the coconut cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add chopped onion leaves and wansoy (coriander) to spice it up some more.

Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.

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