Ubod, Sugpo, Alimasag at Baboy / Heart of Palm with Prawns, Crabmeat & Pork Cracklings a la Marketman


Here’s a heart stopping, flavor packed way to enjoy some totally fresh ubod or heart of coconut palm. A work colleague of mine dragged a huge chunk of freshly felled coconut trunk from Bohol to Cebu last week, and I was thrilled with the prospect of a freshly made lump4lumpia ubod. Unfortunately, this is apparently NOT a common dish in Cebu and no one in the office knew how to cook it. I have struggled with the wrappers before, but rather than not enjoying the ubod, I decided to simply cook it up as though we were going to make lumpia and then just eat the filling “naked.” However, I wanted to make it more of an ulam or viand rather than a “side dish.” But there was a slight glitch in the works. Imagine my surprise when we opened up the coconut trunk, and it didn’t quite look like ubod. It seems the section was from HIGHER up on the trunk, just before the youngest leaves came out of the trunk. I don’t even know what this section is called, but it is thinner, more delicate and less dense than the ubod I am familiar with. So instead of cooking this great gift, which is apparently IS enjoyed in some homes, but I am not familiar with the preparation, the office crew sent someone out to buy some more traditional ubod since we had already assembled all of the other ingredients…

When the new whole ubod arrived, we had just 40+ minutes before lunch so we really had to get cracking. It was truly a team effort. V, the new driver peeled the trunk and made thin slices. M and I tried to julienne the ubod roughly with cleavers, lump5and let’s just say the pieces were a bit uneven but that doesn’t really affect the taste… B and M also tried their luck at chopping. E and M2 peeled the shrimp and mashed shrimp heads. L and A cheered us on or took photos. A2 and others helped with clean-up. It was an utter spectacle in our modest kitchen at the office! And no one got hurt with so many knives being used at the same time! But the result was REALLY, REALLY worth it. Here are the ingredients and methodology for Ubod a la Marketman’s Office Crew. For the over the top version, with no scrimping on ingredients, you must obtain about 1.5+ kilos of julienned ubod, 1 kilo of medium sized extremely fresh prawns, ¼ kilo of peeled alimasag or crab meat, 1 kilo of totally fatty pork, preferably from around the stomach, patis, garlic and onions, salt and pepper.

Take a kilo of fatty pork and chop it up into small to medium sized pieces and stick it in a pan and turn the heat to medium high. Once it starts to render or give up its fat, stir it often until you have chicharon like remnants of pork and a whole lot of oil. In this case, lump3the oil must have been a good 3 cups worth after about 15-20 minutes. Remove the cooked pork and when it has cooled chop it up roughly. Meanwhile, peel all of the prawns, stick all the shrimp heads in a large mortar and smash them with a pestle. Add about 1/3-1/2 cup of water to help extract all of the shrimp head essence or juices. Strain this liquid and you should have just over half a cup or slightly more. Next, heat up the rendered fat (remove a little if you are already foreseeing a minor coronary, but we kept it all in) and throw in several cloves of chopped garlic and several tablespoons of chopped onion, we used red shallots as that is all we had. Next, add all of the peeled and chopped shrimp meat and stir until just cooked, at which point you can add the ubod, the shrimp essence from mashed shrimp heads, and several tablespoons of patis or fish sauce to taste. Add the peeled crabmeat about 5 minutes into the cooking. Season with some salt and pepper and let this cook for about 15 minutes until the ubod is cooked and the flavors have had time to sink into the ubod. Add back about half of the cooked pork and mix and cook another minutes or so.

Transfer the ubod to a large serving bowl/dish and garnish with the remaining crispy pork on top. Serve hot with lots of white rice. This was delicious. The juices of the lump2prawn turned the oil a little orange which made this all more appealing visually. The heavy concentration of prawn pieces and lots of crabmeat made this more of an ulam than a vegetable dish. Not to mention tons of both by now soft pork pieces and the crunchier bits on top. Often, when you order lumpiang ubod in restaurants, they scrimp on the ingredients and you get pallid, tasteless and blah looking ubod. This dish was a world apart…fresh firm ubod with lots of crab meat, shrimp and pork. A sauce that was ultra high in fat (and therefore flavor), colored with shrimp shells and flavored with patis or fish sauce saturated the ubod. We served this with several kinds of broiled/grilled fish from the A-1 Eatery in Cebu. Now that is what ALL office lunches should be like. Delicious!!


10 Responses

  1. Mmmm, that looks so good! I’ve tried this before but using fresh bamboo shoots (but without the crabmeat). Thanks for the idea!

  2. This is a different take from the usual ubod although I’ve tasted this dish before using fresh dilis, and with the usual “pang gisa” ingredients. It was just an experiment by a friend’s mom. But I suppose with your take on this ubod recipe, maybe chicharon will do? I’m sure the juice from the shrimp heads alone will lock in the flavors… I’m not too keen on pork fat getting absorbed by the ubod… or will it? don’t get me wrong, I used to eat chicken fried in pork fat…I’m doing my portion control on food lately but with this ubod recipe, I’ll take an exception!!!!!

  3. Heart stopping indeed. The dish looks very much like what I would extend further with beaten eggs for crab fu yung or to fill a short crust shell for crab meat quiche. How do your dining companions react to these random epicurian treats? I hope they are less repressed (in expressing their appreciation) than the parishoners for whom Babette prepared her Feast.

  4. That is one great meal all by itself—no rice or anything! We often find it a special event whenever we have an ubod because a whole coconut tree is felled and that’s a lot of mess to clean up :-)! As I can see you got the very heart and it really is delicately delicious. We often eat it plainly as salad squeezed with a little calamansi or other preferred condiments. As fresh it is, we eat it like it is. The rest that are stored for later, I often cook with shrimps. An omelet of it sounds great too! Your version is so luxurious!…as always :-).

  5. A suggestion for your leftover cooked ubod ulam— you can make fried lumpia ubod. Just strain the sauce, wrap the ubod in traditional lumpia wrapper. Deep fry in very hot oil to prevent the lumpia from getting soggy. Serve with sweet chili sauce. Yum yum!!!

  6. saraaap! looks just like my kind of ulam! don’t anybody dare make a low-fat version of this….that would be crazy!

    if you drain the leftovers of this and mix them with beaten eggs, you’d have excellent omelets or egg-foo-yung. ubod is so versatile, but myt family’s favorite is ubod-lobster (or shrimp) salad.

  7. I’ve only ever seen ubod made into fresh lumpia,but,have never seen what a whole ubod looks like and my question is,did you use the whole ubod that’s shown on your 3rd pic from the top? Pls.pardon my ignorance,MM.

    Glad to see Apicio back.

  8. I love ubod in any form and substance be it in a salad or lumpia. Your impromptu ubod medley looks sublime. I can picture your office back room with all the people working on the ubod to make it for lunch – must be like the Iron Chef kitchen stadium beating up the clock!



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