Sauteed santol as a main course?? I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical and considered this a bit of a â€œstretchâ€ under normal circumstances. But some recent articles in the broadsheet papers, a quick perusal of an interesting local cookbook focused to Bicolano cooking, a grandfather who traces his roots to a town outside Legazpi, and this website, which has pushed me to try things I have thus far ignored, dismissed or been indifferent to, resulted in a lunchtime experiment to try out this santol in gata recipe. The base recipe and method are described in incredible detail in The Coconut Cookery of Bicol written by Honesto C. General. I have tweaked that base recipe a little. I also added medium sized prawns which I am told real Bicolanos would frown uponâ€¦ at any rate check out this recipe for Santol with Prawns in Coconut Milk.
To make, chop one small white onion, 5 cloves of smashed garlic, a two-inch chunk of ginger smashed, 2 stems of lemongrass or tanglad, some shrimp paste (bagoong) or dried shrimp, 100 grams of meaty daing or fresh prawns (I used the latter), siling labuyo (birdseye chilli) and salt. Prepare milk from two grated coconuts and Â½ kilo of chopped santol (skins only, no seeds) which you have soaked in water and drained and pressed to remove excess liquid. Over high heat, bring the coconut milk and all of the other ingredients except the prawns and salt to a boil. Keep stirring to avoid curdling. Keep boiling this down until the milk is quite oily, this will take 10-15 minutes depending on the heat. Add the chopped santol and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Add the prawns and season with salt. Serve with steamed rice. How did it taste? I guess it is best described as unique. I really like santol but this was a new flavor sensation altogether. I ate several servings but it hasnâ€™t joined my all time favorites list yet!