As a kid growing up in Antipolo, I used to be dragged along by my aunt or parents from one reunion to another. Be it weddings, baptismal, birthdays, funerals, and especially fiestas, they make certain that our family makes an appearance, saying that these are the only times that Ilonggos gather in one place. And at almost every table we’ve been to, I particularly remember this soupy, purplish black dish that’s always first to go. Whenever I ask what’s so special about it, people always come up to me and tell me that it’s called KBL (no, not Marcos’ political party Kilusang Bagong Lipunan!) KBL stands for kadios, baboy kag langka (No, not Marcos’ political party Kilusang Bagong Lipunan). It is probably their most scrumptious viand and proudly-Ilonggo to boot. I was even told to take note of the owners of the houses that serve KBL. My parents say that they either hail from Iloilo or have Ilonggo blood down their line. Grown ups used to joke about how KBL is a must during another KBL–Kasal-Bunyag-Lubong buffets or the three big celebrations for Filipinos: Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals .
According to my lola, this mouth-watering dish is easy to prepare though the cooking time might leave you feeling impatient. More often than not, they resort to multitasking so as to reduce the long hours of preparing it. This is the classic way of cooking KBL. (In the short-cut version, the baboy is no longer broiled but directly stewed.)
We will need:
1 “samon” (cup) of kadios
1 kilo langka cubes
1 kilo pork (pig’s feet/rib area)
5 pieces batuan
2 liters water
1 medium sized onion
4 garlic cloves
1-3 tsp oil
1) Broil the pig’s feet or rib area (the best cuts for KBL) over charcoal to get the “smoky effect” in the stew later. Then cut into small portions.
2) Boil the kadios until soft. (Ilonggos commonly use the black type though the color of the beans ranges from red to white or black to brown. My lola said it’s better to use the fresh beans than the dried ones because it takes a shorter time to boil)
3)On a separate pot, start boiling the langka (jackfruit, unripe), sliced into small cubes, until it is a bit soft.
4)Add the broiled, already chopped pork to the langka. Bring to boil until the langka and pork are soft.
5)Mix the kadios, langka and baboy in a big pot (including the broth) and season with salt, pepper and vetsin (monosodium glutamate). Soy sauce and fish sauce are optional.
6)Add batuan, the typical “pampa-asim” in Panay (the counterpart of sampaloc/tamarind in Manila). Kamias, libas leaves or commercial flavorings could be used as batuan substitute.
7)Add tanglad or lemongrass to bring out an added nuance to the flavor. Bring to boil.
8)Finally, add the katumbal/sili (hot peppers). Simmer for a few minutes more and remove from the fire. Now 6-8 people could enjoy this!
Presently, I’m enrolled here in UP Visayas and in staying here I get to taste this specialty more often than when I was in the metro during special occasions. I tried asking the locals what’s the secret of KBL that it’s the most requested dish during buffets.
Almost all of them are in accord that it may be because of its unique taste. The flavor of langka, baboy and kadios soured with batuan (no other pang-aslum can work best with KBL) perfectly complement one another. It is a superb dish that makes one reminisce the good times back in their hometown. They are very proud of this specialty and they told me that serving it on special occasions is their way of showing their warmest welcome to their guests. Also, the locals say they don’t mind preparing KBL since the ingredients are readily available and one could come out with great servings sans excessive expense.
For the information of readers, India is the largest kadios producer in the world. Scientifically known as Cajanus cajan, it is also known as pigeon pea, Congo bean and tur. It is probably one of the oldest cultivated plant, a fact attested by its discoveries in various ancient Egyptian tombs dating back to 2200-2400 BC.
In the local backyard, Miagao is one of the top kadios producers in Panay so year-round availability and price are not a problem. A gantang (a big can of pineapple juice) of dried kadios costs more or less P100 while the fresh (still in the pod) costs P25 during its season, which falls on September. The price plays P250 for the dried peas and P 150 for the fresh ones when not in season. On the other hand, batuan sells at P20/kg at season and up to P150 when supplies are scarce.
Unfortunately for the residents of Manila, finding kadios or batuan will more likely be hard and the price could be downright shocking. Now that I thought of it, I can say I’ve finally understood why, when our relatives from Iloilo visit our home in Antipolo feel the need to bring at least a box of kadios and batuan, never mind the “excess baggage” problem.
KBL. It really is one of a kind. For those who’re planning to visit Iloilo, don’t forget to try this pride of Ilonggos. It’s a sumptuous food trip that’ll surely leave a mark on your taste buds!
*Joi Asuncion C. Gruy is a Bachelor of Science in Biology student in the University of the Philippines Visayas and is now on her second year. She loves sports and music. Her roots traces back to San Joaquin, Iloilo from both parents’ side but having been born and raised in Manila, she still has trouble speaking in Hiligaynon fluently. Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org.