05 Aug2005

Langka / Jackfruit

by Marketman

My grandmother, who owned the bakery in the previous post on Pan de Sal, lived in a alang2memorable house in Cebu city. I describe it as memorable because few kids who spent a night there (let alone a summer) could forget it. Indoors were extensive collections of burial site antiques, old wooden furniture, a grandfather clock that would chime hourly, and appliances from the 1950’s. It was the only place I have ever stayed where three or four antique four poster beds were put side by side and kids could jump from bed to bed all enclosed in the most massive mosquito net ever made… Beyond the voluminous mosquito nets were hundreds of old santos, relics, burial jars, staring right at us. Add on resident geckos (tuko) that have that distinctive call or yelp… and you can imagine what kind of ghost stories were whispered in the dark before falling asleep! Outdoors were several prized fighting cocks and in the yard large langka trees that seemed to bear the most gigantic fruit.

I was always fascinated how a tree could bear such enormous fruit (reaching up to 60 pounds in some places!) year after year! Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) are alang1believed to be indigenous to the forests of the Western Ghats in India. It has since spread to Southeast Asia and also grows in parts of Africa, the Caribbean and even Florida. Jackfruit wood is prized in Cebu for the guitars and ukeleles they make and sell to locals and tourists alike. For some reason, I have not eaten fresh langka or nangka for over 20 years. So on a recent drive through Tagaytay, I decided to bring home a small whole langka. At PHP100 for something that was easily 12 kilos I thought it was a bargain. However, the smell was more than I had expected and the car was seriously pungent by the time we got to Manila!

Sliced open, the fruit was perfectly ripe. A bright yellow orange, its distinctive alang3smell brought back childhood memories. The taste was brilliant, crisp yet rubbery at the same time, sweet and flavorful. I can see why others might find it overpowering but it was delicious nonetheless. The problem is what to do with the bounty as it doesn’t keep long. We sent some to the neighbors, sent some home with friends and still we had over half of the langka in the kitchen. I decided to bottle or preserve most of it in sugar water (recipe to follow) for use at a later time in home made halo-halo’s, we ate quite a bit chilled and fresh, we cooked some into banana turon and finally, we threw some into the ginataan I posted yesterday. Delicious stroll down memory lane…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. eD says:

    Don’t throw away the seeds MM. Try boiling them. They have this nutty flavor when you munch on them. ‘Taste good actually.

    Aug 5, 2005 | 4:56 am

     
  2. Marketman says:

    eD, I have never tried the seeds… hmmm, next time.

    Aug 5, 2005 | 5:03 am

     
  3. dodi says:

    Hello! Like you, I have often wondered at how prolific the langka tree bears fruit, there’s a lot growing in my backyard right now just from one tree!! Smells heavenly at night, mixed with the heady fragrance of rosal, parang nasa probinsya kami! But to tell you the truth,although langka tastes great I love marang more.

    Aug 5, 2005 | 9:32 am

     
  4. Noel says:

    You may include the seeds when you cook the ginataan. It’s quite fiddly to remove the skin while eating the ginataan and when at the same time sweating your brows due to summer heat.

    Aug 5, 2005 | 10:31 am

     
  5. ENYA says:

    “I was always fascinated how a tree could bear such enormous fruit (reaching up to 60 pounds in some places!) year after year!”

    What’s more amazing to me is a how a stem barely the diameter of your hand’s pinkie could hold fruits THAT heavy! They say Langka trees which bear fruits underground (yes, there is such a thing—-with the stem attached to the roots) are the sweetest.

    Jackfruit. I wonder why it was named as such?

    Langka is my favorite fruit of all time. I like it better eaten fresh. I remember, when I was a kid—-about 10 years old or so-—I used to walk a distance of almost a mile just to buy a slice of langka for P5.00 when it’s in season. Now, I go to Quiapo and can buy it almost all year round. You got your whole langka for P100 (that’s not even $2 bucks!)? It IS a bargain indeed, MarketMan.

    Aug 5, 2005 | 10:33 am

     
  6. stef says:

    your posts are so nostalgic as of late — nakakamiss tuloy lalo ang pilipinas…. langka happens to be my favorite pinoy fruit, more than anything else! i love it half-frozen. and yes, the seeds are great too.

    Aug 5, 2005 | 10:46 am

     
  7. joey says:

    I like to eat it (like Stef) half frozen or in turon…yum!

    Aug 5, 2005 | 10:54 am

     
  8. Mila says:

    The seeds are great boiled and eaten plain or with a little rock salt. I think I remember eating them roasted too, but I like them boiled like peanuts. Yes, the skin does take some getting used, they are like saran wrap sometimes. And there’s always kinilaw na langka, like laing but langka, not taro leaves.
    How do you manage to diet when surrounded by so much good food?!

    Aug 5, 2005 | 10:54 am

     
  9. SCHATZLI says:

    boiled langka seeds – sarap yan!

    sa cebu the smaller younger seeds are used for soups.

    Aug 5, 2005 | 4:55 pm

     
  10. virgilio says:

    langka trees bearing fruits underground? Thought this was a myth. Totoo pala? Have yet to see one.

    Yes, boil the seeds until the skin gets cracked making them easier to remove. At least that’s how I remember from childhood.

    Aug 5, 2005 | 5:11 pm

     
  11. Chris says:

    There is such a thing as underground langka though it’s a really old method. Seedlings are raised in bamboo tubes then then you coil the stem beneath the ground. Last I saw something like that was in the very early 80s.

    Aug 6, 2005 | 5:00 am

     
  12. Marketman says:

    Gosh, I was away from a computer for three days and look at all these comments! We should push this whole jackfruit underground delicacy. It sounds like a potential chi-chi fruit. That’s how they get white endive or white asparagus… they keep covering it in dirt/sand then charge 3x the price! I totally missed this whole boil the seeds thing… no wonder the cook hoarded the seeds and put them aside… gotta do some research on why it is “Jackfruit” and not “Big Fat Smelly Prickly Fruit with Sweet Flesh”!

    Aug 8, 2005 | 8:14 am

     
  13. Chris says:

    The name “jackfruit” comes from the Portuguese “jaca” + fruit. The Portuguese term comes from the Malayalam “cakka/cakkai/chakka” (it differs according to region) The Filipino term “langka” or “nangka” is actually closer to the origin, which is expected because it belongs to the same Malayo-Polynesian language family. Jill’s brother doesn’t actually have anything to do with the name ;)

    Aug 9, 2005 | 12:43 am

     
  14. Karen says:

    Uy, new template! Of course this must be days old now, hehe!

    Marketman, how long were your 60lb. langka? I’m trying to figure out if the 3ft.+ long fruits from Cotabato are the same variety as those we get here in Luzon. How about those in Cebu?

    Aug 9, 2005 | 4:10 am

     
  15. Marketman says:

    Karen, I didn’t actually weigh my langka but I would imagine that the 3+ foot ones are in the 40-50 kilo range. I didn’t see too much mention of wide variations in langka in my cursory research for the post. I was away for the weekend and changes to website were introduced then, it went a little haywire for a few hours… Chris, thanks for that info on “jackfruit” – saves me research time!

    Aug 9, 2005 | 12:46 pm

     
 

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