12 Apr2013

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Sometimes, you put childhood food memories up on a pretty high pedestal. This is the case with consilva, or pinasugbo as it’s more commonly referred to these days. My grandmother was a doctor, one of the first female doctors in the country at that, and she espoused a very healthy and spartan diet which may have helped her reach the ripe age of 94! Her typical meal consisted of a soup with malunggay or horseradish tree/moringa leaves and either native chicken or fish, rice and vegetables. Never a soda, rarely a sweet or dessert, though sometimes a banana for dessert. However, whenever the grandchildren came for the annual summer visit, she allowed us three indulgences that I can vividly recall: ice cream (by the gallon, in whatever flavor you desired) would be purchased and placed in her barely-cool-enough freezer for the duration of your stay, whatever fruit you preferred (manoges, lansones or sineguelas by the kaing), and huge latas or cans standing nearly two feet tall of freshly made consilva, from her suki that I never met. When we were back in Manila, and had a birthday or special occasion, she would sometimes airfreight a can of consilva (along with a lechon) to us along with an envelope with a crisp PHP5 or PHP10 bill inside, her distinctive penmanship spelling out our names… I think it even got to a point where a can was sent specifically to me, and my brother, so we would have our own stash and wouldn’t fight. Calories and teeth be damned. :)

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At the time, consilva were made up of three (probably hand sliced) pieces of unripe saba bananas, tied together with the rib of coconut leaves, then that was all dipped in the caramelized sugar or melted brown sugar, dried and and placed in the tin cans. No silly white paper cones at the bottom of each bunch, as is de rigeur these days, and no sesame seeds. Just bananas and sugar. When at their freshest, they were heavenly, but as the humidity crept into the can, the consilva would get softer and stickier, it made extraction a bit of a challenge. Nevertheless, they were heavenly. And I have always liked them and still occasionally buy them when I see them at pasalubong stalls around the country, now mostly from Negros it seems, where they are called Pinasugbo, hopefully in recognition of the fact that they started out in Cebu…

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The commercial consilvas that are available today just aren’t the ones from my childhood, or at least I remember them differently. I have tried to make these before, and failed miserably, but in my quest to re-create a fond memory, I am at it again. Meanwhile, I have asked crew from our Cebu office to scour the city for folks who make this delicacy so I can get them to teach me how to do it properly… but until they find someone willing to share their recipe, this is what I came up with yesterday… they looked pretty darned good, but still need some improvement… :)

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Get some green or unripe saba bananas. Slice them thinly… we used a mandoline for consistently thin slices. We tried frying them directly, or soaking them first in salted ice water, and for some reason (don’t ask me the science) the latter really did seem to make a difference. The chips ended up looking great, were nice and crisp and had a slightly salty touch. Next I melted some really good muscovado sugar with a bit of water and simmered until it thickened a bit. Take the fried banana slices and dip them in the sugar syrup, dry them on a silpat mat or other less stickable surface and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if desired. I ate a couple while they were hot and knew I had a much better batch than ever before. Once cooled, they were definitely quite edible, but they still weren’t what we had as kids. For one thing, the childhood version was almost certainly hand cut, and just a tad thicker than these ones. I am wondering now if they might have been sun-dried or baked, instead of fried, though I would still guess fried. I am pretty sure they used brown sugar, but perhaps not muscovado, though some folks today might actually be caramelizing white sugar instead. I definitely miss the more natural coconut ribs as the native tie to each bunch of bananas.

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A side discovery is that it is pretty easy to make good banana chips as well… the fried bananas are just brushed with clear sugar syrup and dried before packaging…

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The day after making the consilva, the bananas had started to soften a bit, resulting in a gooey, chewy delicacy… a bit more like my childhood memory, but still missing something… :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Mimi says:

    In White Plains, Katipunan, there’s this Ilocos empanada stall opposite Plants n Planters which sell very yummy saba chips! When we get stuck in traffic there we buy several bags to eat in the car. They were very nice and crispy.

    Apr 13, 2013 | 10:06 am

     
  2. rose says:

    yummy

    Apr 13, 2013 | 10:23 am

     
  3. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Pictures don’t lie:):) total yumminess!!! sans sticky paper.. will try these, when i visit home.. for green saba are not available here:(:( Lovely pedestal .

    Apr 13, 2013 | 11:19 am

     
  4. raul says:

    I remember the consilvas of my childhood too. It was very much as you described them. If I remember these were usually sold in Talisay in the fresh spring water pools in town and the nearby Pook beach. You may still be able to find consilva makers in the area. The Talisay lechon is another childhood memory…..

    Apr 13, 2013 | 1:11 pm

     
  5. Chinky says:

    Yes, they sold them around the Talisay fresh water pools. In the 70a my grandfather would take us there for swimming on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays—we would cook our breakfast by the poolside and buy consilvas from the vendors for dessert!

    Apr 13, 2013 | 1:46 pm

     
  6. Marketman says:

    Chinky and raul, you are right, until a few years ago, I used to see street vendors with consilva on Sundays in Talisay… will have to send some office scouts that way to find them again…

    Apr 13, 2013 | 1:57 pm

     
  7. lee says:

    Paperless Pinasugbo = Perfect

    Apr 13, 2013 | 4:08 pm

     
  8. marilen says:

    Makes sense – consilva ala cebu – pinasugbo (as known and consumed in Negros)

    Apr 13, 2013 | 9:31 pm

     
  9. vantravelguide says:

    Chinky, that is a very sweet memory. I have this love and hate for consilvas. I so love this desert but hates the white paper around it because it doesn’t want to let go my consilvas when I want to consume them all. Marketman, what you’ve made are perfect, without the sandy white paper on it. Share some.

    Apr 13, 2013 | 9:51 pm

     
  10. Footloose says:

    Could it be that pinasugbo means dunked in boiling syrup? That’s how we made our camote treat, patubog, as part of the cane sugar making process.

    But you know, it’s just as well that food once enjoyed in childhood cannot be recreated exactly as remembered because if eaten in maturity would most likely be bad for you.

    Apr 13, 2013 | 9:56 pm

     
  11. JB says:

    “Sometimes, you put childhood food memories up on a pretty high pedestal.”

    Very true. My wife and I like to ask people what their last meal would be, and you’d be surprised by how many people pick simple, comforting dishes that reach back all the way to their childhood, like sinigang or barbecue. I’m guessing that your grandmother’s consilva would be part of yours? :)

    Apr 14, 2013 | 8:40 am

     
  12. Marketman says:

    Footloose, you could certainly be correct, I really have no clue where the term arises from, and assumed it meant “from Cebu” somehow… And one online translation says “sugbo” in Filipino means “tempered”… which is really interesting…hmmm.

    JB, there would be quite a few things on my long list for that final meal, but somehow I suspect my appetite would be a bit diminished… check out this old post on exactly that topic, where readers listed out the top 10 items they would want at their last supper. Mine are in a comment, and unfortunately, consilva didn’t make the final 10 (5 western, 5 pinoy) items… :)

    Apr 14, 2013 | 9:14 am

     
  13. millet says:

    food remembered from a happy childhood always tastes better than its versions in adulthood, MM, because it is always remembered with a host of other happy memories.

    my worst memory of pinasugbo is of one holy week we spent camping with the kids and other friends in the mountains. on good friday, we were all munching on pinasugbo when the jacket of my front tooth got stuck in the gunk and came off. since we were in the mountains, and all dentists were on vacation anyway, i had to spend the rest of the camping trip with a bandanna over my mouth, a la lone ranger ;-) i’ve avoided pinasugbo like the plague ever since. but my husband loves them and can’t resist buying whenever he spots some. hard to find good quality pinasugbo these days, though, the one with just a sheen of syrup on them.

    but you’re right, i remember pinasugbo without paper or cellophane at the tips. the cellophane is the worst – just won’t come off, and you end up with cellophane shards in your mouth.

    Apr 14, 2013 | 9:33 am

     
  14. millet says:

    so thanks for this recipe, MM..never knew it was this easy to make!

    Apr 14, 2013 | 9:43 am

     
  15. Betchay says:

    @Millet: Funny, we have the same experience…I love pinasugbo but after I chipped my tooth I had been avoiding it for the longest time.

    Apr 14, 2013 | 9:30 pm

     
  16. Footloose says:

    … eaten in maturity would most likely be bad for you…if not for your dental work.

    But if you were the Lone Ranger, who played keemo sahbe?

    Apr 14, 2013 | 10:57 pm

     
  17. kristin says:

    Had memories of these… I was still around on my early gradeschool days. Once a year,with my Dad I have to go to Cebu City for a yearly medical check up after a major surgery in my childhood. And for being brave to see the good doctors my dad will buy me ‘baon’ to be consumed in the boat trip home which is pinasugbo :) bad for the teeth and they stick more than gum but I eagerly eat them/lick them like lollipops..hehehe..

    Apr 15, 2013 | 1:37 am

     
  18. Khew says:

    Here’s what you can try:

    1. Ready a salt solution( 2 – 3 tsp of salt in about 100ml water )
    2. Slice the peeled bananas with a mandolin directly into the hot oil.
    3. Now for the dangerous part – when they’re half done, spoon in 1 tbsp of the salt solution into the oil! [ Don't ask! Just wear goggles or whatever protection or exploit a slave to do this part! :-)) ]
    4. Continue frying till done.
    5. Drain and set aside.
    6. In a wok, dissolve 3 tbsp maltose in about 200ml water. Cook this till thickened and bubbly. ( Put a drop of it into a bowl of water and if it hardens and sinks, you’re done. )
    7. Dump in your banana chips and mix thoroughly to coat. ( Add sesame seeds if you like. )
    8. Dish out onto your silpat or whatever non stick surface to cool off and harden. Store in an airtight container.

    * you may want to experiment adding a little honey into the maltose solution.

    Apr 15, 2013 | 11:13 am

     
  19. Clarissa says:

    I was always afraid that these would pull out my teeth! :) But yummy!

    Apr 15, 2013 | 5:46 pm

     
  20. natie says:

    I agree—BEAUTIFUL pedestal… alas, no more due to expensive dental work…can I puree mine?

    Apr 16, 2013 | 12:56 am

     
  21. EbbaBlue says:

    Tried this last Sunday, ay naku, hindi masarap ang saba rito.. kahit na nga medyo hinog na siya (pero malutong pa rin).. iba ang lasa. Kasi dito mas ginagamit nila “plantain” bananas, medio mas matamis. Subukan ko kayang gamitin ito.

    Khew, ganyan ang pinsan ko sa probinsiya pag nagluluto ng fried chicken or lechon kawali, nagbubudbod ng asin and/or tubig sa kawa na pinaglulutuan. Mas malutong daw ang labas ng ipinipirito nya.

    Apr 16, 2013 | 1:44 am

     
  22. millet says:

    footloose and natie, hahahaha!

    Apr 16, 2013 | 7:43 am

     
  23. Khew says:

    Thanks EbbaBlue. I don’t really see the science behind it but hey, if it makes the fried stuff crispier, then I’m all for it. :) I’m thinking the salt is basically to flavour the fried foods which have not been salted. The reason for not salting them is to prevent moisture from leaching out. The retained moisture steams, renders porous and cooks the insides more thoroughly while acting as a barrier preventing oil from seeping in. Result – fried but not oily.

    Apr 16, 2013 | 9:09 am

     
  24. Mary Lee says:

    Rissa just brought me some from the Filipino store in her NY neighborhood — pretty authentic consilva, complete with the coconut rib tie. They weren’t bad, considering the miles they’d probably travelled. These were only three strips of banana to a tie, versus the 5 or so I remembered from my childhood. Like then, they were sticky and so chewy — lucky I didn’t lose a tooth, not to mention a dangerous sugar spike from the heavy glucose.

    Apr 16, 2013 | 11:29 pm

     
  25. Marketman says:

    ML, how ironic, they have the more authentic version halfway around the world, and I can’t find any here, and even sent a scout party to Talisay yesterday to hunt down the manufacturers!

    Apr 17, 2013 | 6:43 am

     
  26. Gerry T says:

    This is so good a favorite pasalubong even sticky and you end up eating the bit of wrapper….^_^

    Apr 18, 2013 | 4:41 am

     
  27. terrey says:

    consilva manufacturers in Talisay should be around barangay Dumlog or San Isidro

    Apr 18, 2013 | 3:53 pm

     
  28. cumin says:

    Brings back wonderful memories of childhood favorites. I’d forgotten about the coconut midrib tie until you mentioned it. Please let us know if you manage to hunt down a good supplier in Cebu?

    Apr 18, 2013 | 7:35 pm

     

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