Sinigang sa Buko: Setting some facts straight

One of the interesting articles from Yahoo’s Fit to Post is Marjorie Gorospe’s “A taste of Albay’s unique ‘sinigang sa buko’”. The article showcases another unique taste from Bicolanos, a taste far from the spicy Bicol Express or the creamy dishes cooked with coconut milk.

But one discouraging line from the article, probably a product of insufficient research, goes:

Sinigang sa buko was created by brothers Beting and Zhar Solomon as they were starting up their gotohan in 1996. (Emphasis supplied)

The attribution is misleading as sinigang sa buko is a public recipe and cannot be therefore claimed as a creation of a person or a group. Gorospe’s claim, though, is not isolated as Rapsa, in 2009, also claimed that” Sinigang na Isda sa Buko is the creation of Alamo’s Eatery inside Barangay # 30 Pigcale, Legaspi City”.

I first tasted sinigang sa buko in the 1980’s though my grandparents claimed that the recipe was just passed on to them by their ancestors. But even my elders could not tell who really invented it as the recipe is well-known in Albay especially in the mountain barangays. The dish is usually prepared after typhoons probably to maximize the young coconuts that are blown to the ground, or after the “bayanihans” to freshen up the neighbors and friends who helped move a nipa house from one place to another.

There are different versions of sinigang sa buko. These can either be seafoods (fish or prawns), pork, beef, or even sardines. The sardines versions are usually prepared when barangay folks receive their share of relief goods after the typhoons.

I have tasted both the Solomons’ and Alamo Eatery’s sinigang sa buko and they both used tomato. Most traditional versions use the young leaves of hog plum, a tree popularly known in Bicol as “libas” or “lubas” (scientific name is Spondias pinnata). If one is using libas, tamarind can be set aside. Or, one can also use lemon as an alternative.

The Solomon recipe is shared in Gorospe’s article. Just add green pepper, though, as it adds more taste and aroma.


3 thoughts on “Sinigang sa Buko: Setting some facts straight

  1. Diyos maray na aldaw tabi sa saimo Mr. Jay Carizo.

    I’m a pure Bikolano like you. Interestingly, I was able to land on your blog while I was looking for pinay scandals. I honestly don’t know if this is God’s will but your writing style gave me arousal nonetheless and now, thanks to you, I eagerly wait your every post , and as a result, I’ve been consuming an additional roll of tissue per week.

    This is an interesting find for me, really, to learn new trivia (well, not totally trivia to Bikolanos who appreciate the culture) about our heritage since I see a dearth of blogs and information about Bicol on the internet. Like my contemporaries, Im one of those who come to appreciate our culture only when I’m in another place, suddenly realizing I was missing Bicol express and gata in the middle of the night.

    Anyways, let me share with you one story during one of my travels to singapore. I remember being treated to a soup made from cow bones called soup tulang, one of the messiest foods in singapore which you eat with your hand. I tell you, if sex were converted to food, this is it : you suck the marrow from the cow bones, and out comes a very tasty morsel of white sticky marrow. I remember going back to my hotel room after that exhausting “session” much like what I do when making love, and take a cold shower afterwards.

    That soup tulang experience would have passed on as another culinary experience until i realized that tulang in indonesian (it originated in indonesia) was actually bone – like in bikol. Intrigued, I tried to interview a friend in jakarta why the hell it sounded like a bikol word. Then I found out more and more Bikol words with exact or almost exact meanings as their indonesian and malaysian counterparts , like :

    butoh – male sex organ(malaysian)
    lada – chili
    bulan – moon
    langit – sky
    kuko – fingernail
    telinga – ear

    That experience really made me wonder aloud whether we are indeed closer than we think to our asean brothers whose ancestors may once have mingled with our ancestors in Legazpi. These asean neighbors could be long lost relatives whose ancestors once swam through the creek that ran from Legazpi to Daraga, hunted in the Jungles of Albay district, and made love in the cold nights at the provincial capitol with just the moon’s reflection to guide them, and with just Mayon volcano as the sole witness.

    I really hope that in the coming days you would also feature this topic because I really find it worthy of mentioning. While present day Bicol historians mainly looked inside Bicol for historical facts, I think these asean neighbors give a much clearer picture of our past than we could ever imagine.

    Anyway, just call me by my name Lily Bugan. I am not a writer, historian nor a political strategist, just a HORNY BICOLANO . But wait, isn’t that a redundancy? You’ll be hearing more from me in the coming days.


    BTW i read one of your contributors Ms. Nery Ronatay (sorry I mistakenly said Noratay on my other comment). Very thought provoking and sensual; it’s nice that we have a lady contributor who thinks along the same line like us guys.

    1. Actually, your suggestion is good. When I was in India, I noticed some similarities also on our food and the names of places there and in the Bicol Region. I got closer to my host because he came from Goa, a state in India, and I mentioned him there is also a Goa in the place I came from — and that is in Camarines Sur. There are also allegations that the Bicolano epic, Ibalong, also shows traces of Indian influence as there are words that quite resemble Indian words. I am also confident that we can learn a lot of our past by looking at our neighboring countries especially those who were able to preserve their culture. Resources lang talaga ang kulang.

      As for Nery, he is a male. 🙂

      Thanks for the comments and for the visits. Hope to read from you always.

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