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.