SIKAD-SIKAD AND DALU-DALO
Occasionally, we have many foods that we always love to eat when relatives or friends come to visit us with their "pasalubongs" or presents. Pasalubongs are usually exotic or indigenous foods that come from our place in our town in Gubat, Sorsogon. These presents could be rare and not available in the city markets and "talipapa". When my father-in-law, Alexander E. Fajardo was still living, he would prepare a great deal of time and effort to bring our favorite foods that he knew. I guessed that he planned it splendidly to bring to us whatever he could prepare for his visit. This would be a favorite of every Gubatnon, a treat that would please Edith, the children and myself. He would bring, Sikad-Sikad, Dalu-Dalo, Binot-ong, Crabs("Kinis"), Lantahon na Pili, Inun-on na Angul, Moledo, Hinagom and Gabi.
One of these presents are Sikad-Sikad and Dalu-Dalo, these are conches or sea shells which are pointed on both ends with edible meat inside cooked with creamy coconut milk with fresh malunggay leaves. These conches are abundant on the shores of our town near the mangroves, especially in Cogon, Tiris, Bagacay or Ariman. Sikad-Sikad are beautiful conches pictured above with brownish glossy color and can be a good use for decoration as well. You will need a pointed stick to reach and to take out the delicious edible meat inside the shell. On the other hand, Dalu-Dalo are conches, smaller than Sikad-Sikad with black color that could be eaten by placing the opening of the conch on your mouth and sucking it out to pull the meat. Before it is cooked, they are washed thoroughly and cut by a bolo by the rear end to let the meat easier to be sucked out . It is cooked mixed with coconut milk and malunggay leaves. Malunggay leaves are very delicious with the taste that could blend well with the creamy coconut sauce and the conch. It is very interesting to suck all the Dalu-Dalo shells at dinners, it could be a competition for who could be the fastest sucker with all these conches.
Binot-ong is a very delicious glutinous (malagkit) rice, cooked and wrapped in banana leaves flavored with salt and mixed with coconut milk then tied by a strip of coconut leaf tightly to seal its coconut milk inside. My father-in-law, Alexander E. Fajardo usually brought this delicious treat for our breakfast just as he had arrived from Bicol from the JB Line Bus very early in the morning. Its flavor and aroma is similar to the popular wrapped "suman", but Binot-ong is more appealing and appetizing because it is creamier and velvety because of the "latik", this is the coconut milk turned into a creamy sauce. It is very delectable and popular to every Gubatnon. I couldn't find any similarity in preparation with the "latik" sauce such as this from any place in the Philippines. I believe this is an original Bicolano food. It is best eaten at breakfast or snack by putting some brown sugar or honey or it can be eaten naturally as it is. Apparently, this is one of our favorite "pasalubong" because they can be practically stored for a number of days in a fridge and if you want it right away when hunger strikes, you only have to steam it before serving to retain its freshness.
Kinunot is a fish dish very popular in our town.Best for sumsuman (drink appetizer) It is a dish cooked with main ingredients of shark or manta ray sauteed in onions, garlic and malunggay leaves and coconut cream. Its aroma and unique taste is delicious with the mixture of coconut milk "gata", lemon (kalamansi), onions, red chili peppers and malunggay leaves. The meat of shark or manta ray is boiled in water to discard the foul smell, then it is flaked with your hand by disposing the bone cartillage of the fish. My recipe below is spicy and hot. Gubatnons do not eat hot foods with lots of chili peppers. So, please disregard the chili peppers if you do not eat spicy dish.
KINUNOT RECIPE1 kilo of Shark or Manta Ray
3 Coconuts (grated from the market)10 Lemons (kalamansi)
3 Cups Malunggay Leaves
10 pcs chili peppers (Labuyo)
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 cup chopped onions
DIRECTIONS: Prepare a large pot by placing the shark or manta ray with just enough of water to cover the fish. Bring to a boil and take out the fish and dispose the foul hot water. Let the fish to cool off, meanwhile, cut and press all the kalamaPnsi in a bowl. Flake the fish from its bones and set aside. Prepare the grated coconut by mixing a cup of lukewarm water and pressing it with both hands, pouring the cream to the prepared bowl, then set aside. In a hot pan, put 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, then saute the garlic and onions until golden brown. Place the flaked fish and the lemon juice (kalamansi), then let it cook for another 10 minutes. Add the pressed grated coconut cream, the malunggay leaves and the chilies and let it simmer for another 10 minutes until the dish is almost dry. Serve it hot on a dish with steamed rice.
Linanta na Pili is one the favorite dish of the people of Sorsogon where Pili trees abound. 85% of the production of Pili in the Philippines come from Sorsogon. Linanta na Pili is served with steamed rice and is paired in the meal with a dip, like the paga of kuyog (salted small Siganid or Danggit fish sauce), patis, soy sauce or any salty sauce. The taste is nutty and mushy and very delicious. It is also best eaten with some other viands on a dinner table like the Inun-on na Angul, Paksiw na Galunggong, Inihaw na Tamban and many more. To the poor, it can be the main viand for their meal in the barrios where fish or meat are not available. The outer covering of the shell of the Pili nut which is fibrous is dipped on a lukewarm water for about 15 minutes. Take out the Pili from the water and you will find that the hard fibrous meat will turn into a soft pulpy mush. My wife Edith would dip it in sugar and the taste is nutty in flavor and very delicious. It is also a nice dessert. Pili is also popular because the Pili nut is made into candies!
Another food that is gaining popular to the Gubatnons is the Bicol Express. Gubatnons are not really eaters of spicy foods the same way as the bicolanos from the north. Our forebears would really avoid the fiery hot chilies to include or mixed on any dish. My lola, Nila Acuna really hated hot foods when I was young. I never recalled any hot chili dish prepared on our table. When I transferred in Manila I started sampling Laing and Bicol Express from my neighbors' who were bicolanos who lived near the foothills of Mayon and eventually I learned to love it. I guess it is gaining acceptance in Gubat as many are testing for the purpose of assesing these spicy foods. Since we are bicolanos, famous for spicy eaters do we really want to chicken out these fiery lovable and delectable chilies? Try it.