Cooked â€œripeâ€ pili is a dish that few non-Bicolanos get to try, let alone enjoy. Unless you have been to Bicol, have friends who have brought back fresh pili to your town or you have a tree in your backyard, getting the fresh black ripe pili is rather difficult. It spoils very quickly (say two days) and doesnâ€™t travel too wellâ€¦ I learned to eat this by watching my dad who used to eat boiled pili with such gusto by dipping the peeled boiled pili in pungent guinamos. Inevitably, the rest of the meal was eaten by hand or kamayan style as it just seemed to taste better that way. Not many people know that you can eat the hairy pulp that surrounds the hard nut within, but I have to say it is an acquired taste.
The last time I tried to cook this the pulp came out hard. It seems the proper way to do it is to boil some water and when it reaches a boil, shut off the flame, wait a minute or so and drop the ripe pili into the hot water for just 3-4 minutes and it yields when pressed slightly. If the water is too hot or the dip too long, you get hard pulp which is almost inedible. When it is cool enough to handle, peel off the black skin and dip the pili in guinamos, patis and kalamansi or as I just learned on my recent trip, try it dipped in sugar! The pili fruit has a distinctive fragrance and taste and surprisingly, it was good with sugar. The farm manager was quite insistent that I should take some back to Manila so I could cook it and they harvested the fruit very late the night before I left and they brought it to the airport at 6 in the morning so I could load it onto my flightâ€¦I may only eat this once every 5 or 10 years but itâ€™s a very distinctive and memorable experience every timeâ€¦