Ubod / Heart of Coconut Palm


Ubod or heart of palm is the fibrous pith from the central core of the coconut palm tree. I always assumed the entire center core was edible, but it seems the ubod that you buy tends to come from the top of the palm tree, nearest the leaves…essentially it is the youngest part of the trunk. Removing the ubod kills the tree, so it is usually a byproduct of a naturally fallen tree (as a result of storms, for example) or because a tree is cut to make room for other agricultural crops, construction, landscaping, etc. Growing coconut trees simply to kill them to extract the ubod would be a highly uneconomical venture… While it is a common ingredient here in the Philippines, it is special in that most folks (at least in the city) don’t eat it that often. In other countries, particularly those in Europe where it is known as coeur de palmier, it is consumed in salads and other preparations and their starting ingredient is a canned version of the palm heart. Frankly, I find that it doesn’t have much flavor but it is great at absorbing the other flavoring agents that are cooked with it, hence it is a good vehicle for transporting flavor. It provides bulk, fiber, sustenance. I have really only eaten ubod in lumpia (a fresh spring roll with heart of palm) or as part of a stirfry… I bought the fresh ubod photographed here already cut but I prefer to buy a whole piece and julienne it myself to get a finer cut…

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12 Responses

  1. In most South American countries hearts of palm come from another kind of palm tree not a coconut tree and that’s what in those cans mostly unless you get one that specifies otherwise. Saw miles of them in Costa Rica, a throwback to colonial times.
    You might want to try a salad with fresh hearts of palm or coconut, blanch briefly, shock in ice water, drain and dress with a vinaigrette. Great combined with avocado, tomato, red onion, rocket, or other greens. Shrimp is good with it, too. You might have one flown in specially from Bicol…

  2. this really brings me back childhood memories in bicol. every after a typhoon hit our place, surely there’s going to be ubod on our table. they even use it for dinuguan and other dishes.

    sister is right, there are a lot of ubod (whole) being sold in bicol (quezon also) especially this time of the year (typhonn season).

    i haven’t seen this here in vancouver, though.

    mm, again, hats off to you for this wonderful website. i really enjoy reading your posts.

    keep it up!!

  3. I love coconut ubod in fresh lumpia with shrimps, crab meat, celery only and fresh lumpia wrapper with lots of garlicky sweetened sauce, one of my grand feast foods. It is sad to know how it is harvested.

  4. in some ritzy places, ubod salad is sometimes called “millionaire’s salad” because you need to cut down a whole tree to make it. sister is right, ubod-shrimp salad is outstanding. i use mayo with some pickle relish and cayenne pepper. just blanch the ubod cubes lightly (i add some salt and a pich of sugar to the blanching water), then shock them in ice water. the blandness of the ubod makes it ideal for many types of salads and dressings, but it is greatest with a roquefort dressing. yum.

  5. fried-neurons, maybe the ubod was not fresh.

    after julienning them, try washing them in salted water to remove the ‘pakla’ and ‘dagta’ taste. just like when washing sliced ampalaya.

  6. fried neuron, I may be wrong but you might be referring to bamboo-shoots when you mention about that disagreeable smell to any dish where it’s an ingredient. I have yet to eat another dish where ubod is used as an ingredient other than in fresh lumpia.

  7. You have to try ubod freshly cut. It’s so different from what’s available commercially. We felled a coconut tree in our yard once and the ubod was sooo delicately sweet and crunchy, we were munching before it got to the kitchen. I don’t think it’s because of the variety of coconut we had (smallish Coco Niño) that had a sweetness to the coco meat and water. I came upon a freshly cut ubod in Zambales once and it was sweet too.

  8. I have only eaten ubod fresh from the tree after a typhoon too. where I am in NY I have not seen ubod but has plenty of jicama or singkamas although they are quite large and so bland. I remember singkamas being little and a lot sweeter back home. I use that instead of ubod.

  9. In Lucban, Quezon they make acharang ubod. I’ve never tried it as I don’t like achara, but everyone else seems to love it. My parents give it away every Christmas as gifts. One year, they tried giving something else. People complained, saying they looked forward to it every December. :-)

  10. We cooked the freshly cut ubod of the coconut tree with the buto buto of pork or beef and the taste is a cross between a nilaga and sinigang. Cavitenos and Batangenos really love this dish even those drinking fellows eat these as pulutans and sabaw for pampatanggal lasing.. cheers

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