By Jen Lorenz de los Santos*
One edible plant that surrounded their house was the bamboo. At the start of the rainy season, bamboo shoots – tambô in the native tongue – would start to appear. It is the season called tigtarambô. And almost daily, their viand was tambô cooked in different ways.
At present, Lola is living with us in the town proper of Lambunao. Lambunao is a relatively progressive town, approximately 45 km from Iloilo City, and we could readily get almost everything that we need here. Because of this, we learned to cook foods like crispy fried chicken, instant noodles, and other urbanized food. Although my family’s cooking style and practice was influenced by modernization, my lola has still brought with her the skill in preparing food the way her family did in their barangay a long time ago.
One native dish my Lola usually cooks at home since I can remember is the dinuguan. I have observed that this particular dinuguan is one dish that is almost present on our table during occasions. I cannot say that it has really caught my appetite because I do not eat that much. But lately, it has caught my attention. Since I was also thinking of a good topic for my paper in Humanities, then perhaps this dinuguan would be an interesting topic.
Dinuguan is a common dish here in the Philippines. It may be cooked with extenders such as shredded banana bud, chopped langka, monggo, cubed ubod of coconut or even buri (according to the country cooks in Lambunao). What makes my Lola’s dinuguan unique is the use of “pinaklay na tambô” as its extender.
Pinaklay comes from the word paklay which means to cut into thin strips. Market vendors say that the “pinaklay na tambô” is not available in the market all the time. One has to order for it a few days before, because few people buy the “pinaklay na tambô“. In our case, we paklay the tambô at home. In addition, our “pinaklay na tambô” is soured or we call it ginpaaslum ang “pinaklay”.
Although I eat it, I always take this dinuguan for granted. But relatives who come to visit us, especially those who are from abroad, would sweetly request for the “Dinuguan with pinaklay na tambô” for them. There was also a time when an Iranian visitor asked for “bring home dinuguan” to let his family taste it.
Here is the recipe for the Dinuguan with Pinaklay na Tambô
2 cups pinaklay na tambô soaked in 2 cups water for 3-5 days (to make it sour)
¼ kg. pork meat or organs, cut into small pieces and marinated in garlic, luya, soy sauce, salt and vinegar
1 cup fresh pig’s blood
5 cups water
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves regular garlic
1 head regular onion
few slices of luya
20 alabihud/alubihud (libas) leaves
3 peppers (green and red)
seasonings (soy sauce, vetsin, knorr cubes)
salt to taste
Note: The amounts of the ingredients listed are all estimated quantities.
A. Preparing the “pinaklay na tambô nga ginpaaslum“:
1. Slice the tambô into strips. (about 3.5 cm long, 0.5 cm wide, 0.2 cm thick)
2. Soak the pinaklay na tambô in 2 cups water for 3-5 days.
Note: Do not refrigerate the pinaklay na tambô
B. Cooking the dinuguan:
1. Remove the pinaklay na tambô from the water it was soaked in.
2. Boil the pinaklay na tambô in 2 cups water for 15 minutes.
3. Drain and set aside.
4. Sauté garlic, onion and pork meat and/or organs in oil until tender.
5. Add water just enough to cover the pork meat and/or organs.
6. Put in the lemon grass and alabihud leaves.
7. Cover and set to boil.
8. Add the pinaklay na tambô and 2 cups water.
9. Cover and set to boil.
10. Add the peppers and the pig’s blood.
11. Stir over low fire for about 10 minutes.
12. Season and salt to taste.
The soaking of pinaklay na tambô for three to five days makes it sour which gives a distinctive taste in the dinuguan. This might be the reason why relatives and friends who have tasted it long for Lola Sayong’s dinuguan.
I have never encountered or eaten this recipe outside of our home. But my mom said that her co-teachers are familiar with the “Dinuguan with pinaklay na tambô” and they say that they like it, too. The meticulous preparation of this recipe might be the reason why it is seldom made.
Now, I not only like it but I love it. I’m proud of our dinuguan. Most of all I’m proud of my Lola – I’m proud of my heritage. I learned to give special attention not only to her dinuguan but also to the other indigenous dishes she lovingly prepares.
I am a quiet type of person who loves singing and folk dancing. I also love to travel and see different places. But when I’m at home, watching TV, sleeping, reading books and playing keyboard are my past-time.