The province of Aklan’s cuisine is largely unknown and undiscovered. Some of the province’s native dishes sound and look very exotic yet the taste is quite familiar as they use common ingredients. They make use of coconut milk – a lot. Three dishes that come to my mind that fall into this category are:
(1) Manok nga Inubaran (pictured above), considered as the ‘manamit sa tanan nga tinoea sa Akean’ – the best vegetable dish in Aklan; it’s basically chicken with banana pith simmered in coconut milk;
(2) Linabog nga eangka – unripe jackfruit cooked in coconut milk and vinegar; sometimes dried or fresh shrimp or dried fish (butterflied) called baroe is added to the concoction;
(3) Tinumkan is really delicious. This is river shrimp and/or crabs, pounded and mixed with the flesh of grated or shredded young coconut flesh (gawod), and not just not any young coconut but the coconut flesh that’s about to become hard (as in brown coconut), then wrapped in gutaw (taro) leaves and then simmered in coconut milk. It’s like the Greek dolma. The recipe for tinumkan has already been featured before, here.
So for June 2008, the Recipe for the Month is:
Manok nga Inubaran (in Aklanon, the native language of Aklan)
– manok, kiniwa-kiwa
– ubod it saging – siniad-siad
– aeabihig (dahon o prutas)
Gisahon ro bawang ag sibuyas. Idugang ro kiniwa nga manok, gisahon man. Idugang ro payok hasta mag bukae. Idugang ro tangead ag ro ubod it saging. Asinan ag idugang ro rikado. Kon amat hay ginadugangan man it aeabihig o kon owa hay eanggaw, depende sa panlasa. Ipabukae hasta maghomok ro manok.
– chicken, hacked to pieces (see Filipino Chicken Cuts how to hack chicken to pieces)
– banana pith – this is the center-most layer of the banana trunk; the banana trunk is composed of layers and layers of ‘bark’ – so you have to peel each layer of the bark until you reach the white parts, probably the last three or four remaining layers of the trunk; this is very tender and sweet, sliced thinly across; Note: this may not be available in the diaspora but I thought I saw some frozen in Filipino stores, or maybe canned from Thailand or Vietnam. Maybe I am just dreaming. If this is not available, you can use canned or fresh hearts of palm (this is also called ubod in the Filipino language).
– coconut milk
– lemon grass
– onion, sliced
– garlic, a clove or two, pounded
– black pepper
– ginger, small piece, pounded
– cooking oil
– fruit or leaf called ‘aeabihig’ tree – sorry I do not know its equivalent in English or Tagalog, it’s for souring, so it’s optional
Saute onion and garlic in cooking oil. Add chicken pieces and saute until the meat is nearly-cooked. Add coconut oil. Boil. Add lemon grass and banana pith slices. Add ginger, salt and pepper. Add vinegar or the leaf or fruit of aeabihig (if you want this a little bit acidic) or not, depends on you. Simmer until the chicken is tender.
Serve with San Miguel Beer!