Mukha-sim

ADD TANG TO YOUR FOOD Tamarind fruit contains a sour pulp that becomes sweet as it ripens

Contrary to city folk’s belief, sinampalukan does not mean sinigang using sampalok fruit. The original recipe calls only for young tamarind leaves, which are minced and mashed with sea salt before being sautéed with raw chicken, onions, tomatoes, and ginger.

Sampalok (tamarind) is one of the most useful fruits in our orchard. Although identified mostly as the most popular souring agent for sinigang, the tamarind tree produces flowers, leaves, and bark that have numerous culinary and medicinal uses.

Barrio midwives and village elders swear by the healing powers of steam from mature tamarind leaves soaked in hot water. New mothers are made to sit over a steaming basin and covered with a bed sheet or towel until they sweat. The tamarind steam bath, called suob, is also recommended for other illnesses.

Sinampalukan — Perhaps the most famous use for tamarind talbos (young leaves) is the sinigang dish better known as sinampalukan.

Contrary to city folk’s belief, sinampalukan does not mean sinigang using sampalok fruit. The original recipe calls only for young tamarind leaves, which are minced and mashed with sea salt before being sautéed with raw chicken, onions, tomatoes, and ginger.

Malakumpit — Very young tamarind fruit before seeds are formed assumes a crescent shape, resembling a rice-harvest knife called kumpit.

LEAFY AND YUMMY The sinampalukan from Bulacan has an abundance of minced young tamarind leaves

Pieces of the malakumpit fruit are steamed atop cooking rice in a method called sinapaw. The steamed malakumpit is mashed with a little water. The strained green liquid is mixed with steamed bagoong alamang to produce a sawsawan (dip) that is unique to natives of Cavite.

Small seeds are sweet — A fool-proof way to tell a sweet tamarind fruit is by examining the size of its seeds. Tamarinds with small seeds are generally sweet and therefore fetch a higher price since they are harvested when fully ripe and sold as snacks.  Sour tamarind is picked at any stage and used mainly for sinigang.

Malasebo — Before tamarind fruit ripens fully, it passes through a stage called malasebo, a term describing the color of the flesh that’s like solid grease (sebo). Malasebo tamarind’s shell can be peeled off to reveal avocado-colored flesh that is sweet and sour, which appeals to young people and pregnant women who dip the malasebo in bagoong.

Tipe — The last stage of tamarind’s ripeness is when the flesh turns brown and the fruit covering becomes brittle. Tagalogs call this tipe, and form the peeled sour fruit, seeds and all, into baseball-size balls which keep for months without refrigeration and therefore could be used for cooking when green tamarind is no longer in season.

Tipe travels well, and thus gets shipped in sacks, later shaped into one-kilo blocks for export or for sale in wholesale markets like Divisoria.

SWEET SEEDS The smaller the seeds, the sweeter the tamarind

The brown flesh of ripe tamarind is highly prized by chefs and food manufacturers who value tamarind’s fruity acidity and thick consistency in barbecue sauces and chutneys. Tipe is also made into candy and simmered with sugar into a jam called tamarindo.

First royal export — Tamarind (tamarindus indica) has been a mainstay in Filipino homes and gardens for centuries. Spaniards documented natives eating tamarind when they first “discovered” the islands.

Culinary historian Felice Prudente Sta. Maria writes that in 1567 tamarind saplings were entrusted from Cebu to a ship captain for the Spanish King, to be planted in Mexico to provide a source for the commercially profitable ingredient. By 1573 they were fruiting, suggesting that Mexico’s first tamarinds came from our shores. It is known to have originated in Africa from where the plant migrated to the Indian subcontinent.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/09/30/the-many-phases-of-sampalok/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-many-phases-of-sampalok)