One man’s weeds are another’s pickles… :) Dampalit is sometimes referred to as a weed, it grows wild and was once a delicacy known to more Filipinos than it probably is today. I have never seen or recognized live or freshly cut dampalit, but I have heard about it before. Apicio mentioned it years ago in a comment on papaya acharra, and I have wanted to try this “weed” ever since. And I was intrigued by this paper of Doreen Fernandez that describes dampalit as samphire, which I have enjoyed in Europe, so perhaps I have eaten this weed before. Samphire might be a European cousin of sorts. At any rate, it is a weed or herb gathered from the wild. So I was so pleased to receive a large bottle of atsarang dampalit which a friend brought over last week.
Asked how I would best enjoy this not so common pickle these days, they suggested pairing it with a fried fish or grilled meat. Like any atsara, it is sweet and sour and in this case, redolent with raw garlic as well. It was DELICIOUS. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you would know I am an acharra/atsara fan, and while I like my traditional green papaya pickles, this was a very pleasant variation. The texture of the dampalit is what made it unique, it was indeed weed-like, but not slimy at all. The vinegar and sugar sort of drowns out whatever natural flavor the dampalit possessed before being pickled, but the combination of texture, spices and pickling solution really resulted in a refreshing and interesting foil for fatty fried fish or caramelized pork barbecue. Made somewhere in Central Luzon I was told, by a little old lady who has been making it for decades, this bottle of atsarang dampalit was a pleasure to experience for the first time… Thank you N for such a delicious present! :)