FILIPINO cuisine is rich in heirloom recipes. An archipelago that’s divided into several regions and provinces, the Philippines has a very diverse cuisine made up of a conglomeration of various regional cuisines. Each of these regional cuisines are dependent on the ingredients that are most abundant and easily accessible in the area.
In the Bicol region, gata (coconut milk) and gabi (taro) leaves are widely used in their dishes, with Laing (taro leaves cooked in coconut milk with pork, bagoong alamang or tinapa) and Pinangat (whole taro leaves folded into a pouch with shrimps or meat and tied before being cooked) as the most popular Bicolano dishes. There is a similar dish, Tinuktok, which is, like Pinangat, wrapped into a pouch but with coconut meat and baby shrimps or crabmeat inside.
Chef Michael Giovan Sarthou III, better known as Chef Myke or Tatung, shares the recipe of Tinuktok in his cookbook titled Philippine Cookery: From Heart to Platter. Published by ABS-CBN Publishing Inc., edited by good friend Anne Marie ‘Nana’ Ozaeta and designed by yet another good friend Ige Ramos, the book delves into the flavors, ingredients and techniques that make up Filipino cuisine. It takes readers on a journey around the country and shares recipes with photographs, stories behind the dishes and practical tips on how to make them at home. Tinuktok happens to be one of them, and the recipe is right here, straight from Philippine Cookery: From Heart to Platter.
For the stuffing:
2 cups shredded tender coconut meat (buko)
1/2 cup diced shrimps
2 cups minced pork
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pc. medium-sized onion, minced
salt and pepper to taste
16 pcs. fresh whole gabi (taro) leaves for wrapping
For the sauce:
2 Tbsps. grated ginger
2 pcs. onions, minced
4 stalks lemongrass, white part only, pounded
4 cups coconut milk
1 cup kakang-gata (coconut cream)
siling labuyo (bird’s eye chili), optional
1. In a bowl, mix together coconut meat, shrimps, pork, garlic and onion. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Divide mixture into 8 portions and wrap each in two layers of gabi leaves to form a pouch or pocket. Tie with lemongrass leaves or dried raffia.
3. Arrange gabi pouches in a casserole. Sprinkle grated ginger, minced onion and pounded lemongrass on top of gabi pouches, and pour coconut milk over them. Cover casserole with a lid and simmer until coconut milk thickens and gabi leaves are tender, about 1 hour. Adjust seasoning.
4. Pour in kakang-gata and add siling labuyo if desired. Simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Serves 6 to 8.