Imagine the banana trunk equivalent of ubod, and that, as I understand it is UBAD. The tender core of the upper trunk of the banana plant, ubad is a water filled, crisp, coiled major “vein” (for lack of a more scientific term) or “artery” at the center of the banana plant trunk. I ran across it once before, at a dinner catered by Margarita Fores of Cibo where she paired it with sagada oranges and romaine in a refreshing salad. A quick google yields several references to dishes from Iloilo and thereabouts that inclue ubad in dishes such as kadyos, chicken and ubad. I have NEVER come across this ingredient in Manila markets… so you can imagine my surprise and delight when Margarita send several sections of ubad stalks over the house a few days ago… Apparently, her cook just harvested some of it from their own backyard here in Manila… My problem was… what to do with it?
Never having come across this ingredient in its natural state before, I decided to be safe and simply try to replicate to some degree, the salad that Margarita had prepared using the ubad. I sliced some of the raw ubad and tasted it. It was crisp, high in water content with a subtle flavor… in fact, it was quite bland. We steamed the sliced ubad for a few minutes until it was wilted and set it aside to cool. In another bowl, I mixed some fresh orange sections, a sliced anjou pear, some oil and vinegar and orange juice, salt and pepper and stuck this in the fridge. I also stuck some cleaned romaine lettuce and the ubad into the fridge to chill.
Just before serving, I tossed all of the ingredients together and served this cold. It was very good. Though i have to say the ubad was more of a textural experience rather than a flavorful one. The next time I manage to find this ingredient, I will try it in a chicken stew with kadyos…
Thank you, Margarita, for sending over the fresh ubad. If readers who are familiar with ubad have any other good ideas about how I might enjoy this ingredient, please leave a comment! Thanks! :)