30 May2006

Snotty Coconuts?!?

by Marketman


That’s “snotty,” not “snooty” coconuts. I am always intrigued when my crew selects fresh coconuts on roadside stops on the way to the beach. They are so certain that they seek specimens that are locally referred to as “malauhugin” or literally translated – “snot-like.” The vendors always acquiesce and search through their piles of nuts (or are they fruits?), using their bolos to tap the coconuts in search of the perfect “malauhugins.” The sound they hear after they tap the fruit is an indicator of just how mature the fruit is and different degrees of maturity are ideal for different uses. I suppose if the Eskimos can have 30+ words for/or types of snow then we should have at least 10 to describe the quality of our abundant coconuts… and “malauhugin” is perfect chilled and sipped with a straw straight out of the coconut shell. Then cracked open and the somewhat translucent sweet flesh is scooped up with a spoon for immediate consumption…

Yesterday, the crew spied several ideal looking coconuts still up on the tree in an empty lot next to our place so they pried them loose with a pole and opened them up. They expressed slight disappointment that the coconuts were slightly “over the hill” and not the finest drinking stage… a brief discussion ensued and here is the summary… FOUR critical stages in the life cycle of a coconut…according to Marketmanila’s highly expert Cebuano crew. They all hail from Cebu and actually grew up on coconut farms! But sorry, I only have the Cebuano or Visayan terms and not the Pilipino equivalent terms, perhaps readers can supply the appropriate adjectives in Pilipino:

Stage 1 : “Sagbayluwag” – this is a young coconut that has sweet water but almost no “meat” to speak off. While drinkable, it is considered a waste as you have harvested it too early and before it had a chance to display its potential. Kind of like eating a teeny tiny lobster before it has had a chance to really explore the reef…

Stage 2: “Butong” – this is the ideal drinking state or locally known as “malauhugin.” Here there is sweet coconut water as well as just right thickness and consistency of meat that is translucent, soft and tasty. This is the ideal stage for serving cold in a glass or in the coconut shell itself. A delicacy when done absolutely right…and when was the last time you had one of these? At PHP8 a coconut roadside, this is half the price of a Diet Coke in a can! We buy several coconuts and once at the beach, let them float in an ice bath for at least 2 hours before serving. Excellent drink, one of my favorites! Reportedly helps to calm the stomach after a dizzying zigzag in a car or a yacht ride on rough seas…

Stage 3: “Ungol” – This is past it’s prime from a drinkability standpoint though the water is still okay. The meat is more solid, thicker and a clean white. It is no longer translucent. The photograph up on top is in this stage. It is considered the perfect state from which to make bucaio, that sweet, chewy coconut delicacy.

Stage 4: “Lahing” – This is the stage that is made into grated coconut that is squeezed for its coconut milk. Here the coconut is already “hard” and must be scraped off the inside of the shell.



  1. ajb says:

    I like to eat the soft meat with milk and sugar.

    May 30, 2006 | 11:07 am


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  3. erleen says:

    the things i remember from my lolo:
    2. mala-uhog
    3. mala-kanin

    we also eat the white part that grows inside the coconut when it has passed the malakanin stage but not yet become niyog.

    we call it tumbong. crunchy when small, spongy when big. =)

    May 30, 2006 | 11:31 am

  4. Choy says:

    great for the kidneys! masarap pa.

    May 30, 2006 | 1:39 pm

  5. lee says:

    our dialects are so descriptive. i once heard someone describe coconuts in their “snotty” stage as sulo-sip-onon.” quite gross to some but then it really gets to the point.

    May 30, 2006 | 1:55 pm

  6. kulasa says:

    I’m like erleen. I just know mala-uhog and mala-kanin. Eating tumbong was also a chilhood treat. I recall the time my cousins and I almost got a whipping. We started opening coconuts looking for tumbong not knowing that the coconuts were ready to be planted. Lolo’s bantay was really after us. Kaya pala parang nakapila yung mga buko…

    May 31, 2006 | 10:26 am

  7. Bubut says:

    the mala-kanin is what the coconut vendor calls “pang Salad po ba ?”. for me the mala-uhog is the best stage..

    May 31, 2006 | 12:41 pm

  8. lori says:

    My biggest frustration with coconuts is that I can’t get them here flaked and sweetened, similar to the Baker’s brand that’s imported. I’m sure those coconuts come from the Philippines! So I’v taken a tip from you, MM, and I will do it myself. I like to use coconut in baking. Here’s one of my favorite recipes utilizing coconut.

    May 31, 2006 | 6:35 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    lori, I dried my own grated coconut. Have yet to try the flaked one but it should work…

    Jun 1, 2006 | 9:18 am

  10. sonny sj says:

    MM, I just came across this post.

    In our place, Poambong, Bulacan, critical stages of the life cycle of coconuts are:

    1. Mala-uhog (butong)
    2. Mala-kanin – which as Bubut had said is the one commonly referred to by vendors as “pang salad po ba?”.
    3. Mala-katad – more chewy than mala-kanin yet not yet truly hard as a mature coconut. This is the one best grated and eaten with palitaw, bibingka, puto bumbong, pichi-pichi, suman sa lihiya and other kakanins that has to be served with grated coconut.
    4. Niyog (lahing) – the truly matured coconut for coco milk extraction.

    In wet markets, mala-katad can be distinguished from niyog by the light color of its shell. Niyogs has truly dark chocolate colored shells, while the mala-katad’s shell is somewhat dark cream in color.

    Oct 10, 2007 | 3:43 pm


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