Being an Ilonggo offers advantages. Aside from being able to watch Dinagyang live or in 4 different channels, it also enables one to regularly savor delicious Ilonggo dishes like Kadyos-Baboy-Langka/KBL, the Sinabawan and the Linaga. And one can\u2019t help but ask, what makes these dishes special? Well, the key to good food is good use of ingredients. And guess what these dishes have in common \u2013 batuan.
If a shroud of mystery covers this fruit, just imagine a greater mystery that surrounds this batuan plant. As a kid, I used to think that the batuan is a citrus-like shrub. Now I know that Batuan or Garcinia binucao is a tree reaching a height of about the same as a two storey building. In Manila Bulletin Online, one article entitled Gourmet\u2019s Notepad by Boysie Villavicencio said that its closest relative is the Mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana). My most recent encounter with this tree was when I visited my mother\u2019s colleague, Dr. Nadala, in Lapaz. Dr. \u201cBing\u201d Nadala has batuan trees in her backyard. Its leaves are smooth and leathery. It has small pea-sized red flowers that are somehow inconspicuous from afar. Its famous fruits are yellowish green to light green in color and somewhat round in shape. The fruits are usually harvested at a time when they are yellow green since batuan at its ripe most age have an acrid taste, very susceptible to rotting thus not desirable as a souring agent anymore. One interesting thing that I learned from Dr. Nadala was that the batuan tree has a \u201cgender.\u201d That is, they are dioecious. This simply means that one tree produces only male flowers while the other produces only female flowers. Sadly, the difference between a male and female batuan tree is only obvious during the time flowers turn to fruits. In male batuan trees, flowers just fall off;
while female batuan flowers slowly turn to buds then to fruits. In fact, I find it fascinating to see Dr. Nadala\u2019s towering batuan trees standing side-by-side with leaves gently touching each other as human couples hold each other\u2019s hands wherein one cannot survive without the other.
Ilonggo\u2019s call it \u201cbatuan\u201d but it has other names in other places. According to a Research on Lesser Known Edible Tree Species compiled by Helen B. Florido and Fe F. Cortiguerra, it is known as \u201cbinukao\u201d in Laguna and Bataan, \u201cBalukat\u201d in Ilocos Norte, \u201cBangkok\u201d in Zambales, \u201cBilukan\u201d Rizal, Bataan, \u201cKamangzi\u201d in Tayabas, and \u201cKandis\u201d in Palawan. Indeed, Batuan is not endemic to the region six. And in fact, it is cultivated in Lanao Experimental Section.
Ilonggo\u2019s think of batuan as a souring agent or in hiligaynon, \u201cpampaaslum.\u201d The same way those in Luzon use Sampaloc and Kamias as souring agent in their dishes. Batuan is very common in Iloilo that I was even able to buy it at SM for about 20 pesos per kilo and that\u2019s about five pesos for four pieces last November. And by the way, I\u2019ve read from Market Manila that the ECJ farm at
Batuan\u2019s use as a souring agent is versatile. It can be used in a number of dishes including Kansi and Paksiw. And according to an article in Manila bulletin Online by Mr. Boysie Villavicencio, some use the batuan leaves as stuffing in roast chicken.
6. Roast chicken
So if someone wants to cook KBL but couldn\u2019t find any batuan for sale, just look for that Garcinia binucao tree, it might even be in your neighborhood and you may not know it.
Bryan Atas is technically a 17 year old male; academically a freshman BS Biology student in University of the Philippines; but personally, he is a nature lover and deeply understands the importance of phytochemicals in botanical nutrition. Basically, he appreciates good food from natures\u2019 basket.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?