Sunday, June 10, 2007

Pinakurat: Sawsawan ng Bayan

Coming home from one of his business trips to the provinces, Papa brought home a bottle of what looked to be vinegar with a curious name: Pinakurat - Sawsawan ng Bayan. Interesting. It was from Iligan. Up until then the only product of this north-eastern Mindanao city I'd ever encountered was Glenn, my dorm roomie back in highschool hehehe. The vinegar was coconut-based , looked like it was flavored with isdang bagoong (salted fermented anchovies), and it was labelled extra hot.

Just as an aside: for me, if we're talking about vinegar for Pinoy food it just doesn't get any better than coconut-based. Throw out the cane vinegar. And please, don't give me that supermarket-bought battery-acid. Coconut vinegar (paombong, sukang sasa, sukang tuba, what have you) has body, and the sourness is not reminiscent of chemistry-lab acid.


And so the Pinakurat did turn out to be very hot. Good thing we're big on spicy food in this family.

I asked some people who speak the dialect what the word "pinakurat" means, and I learned that pinakurat is a method of cooking something very quickly. Some also explained that the word is the equivalent of "ginulat" in Tagalog. It's a great description for this dip, as it really does wake you up. Apparently the most common use for it is as a dip for lechon (whole pig roasted in an open pit). As we Filipinos know, lechon in the Visayas and Mindanao is accompanied, not by sarsa like in Luzon, but by vinegar. We're not big pork eaters though, and lechon holds no attraction for me, and so for me pinakurat has been used as a dip for all manner of grilled fish. I even sometimes use it as a marinade. Just throw in some chopped onions and you're all set.

When we ran out of the stuff we wondered whether we'd have to wait for Papa's next business trip to the area to replenish our supply. We were elated to find that it's available at Cherry Foodarama (at a small markup). Here's to more happy meals spiced with pinakurat!

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