I’ve been talking about Kulawo on Twitter for quite some time now. When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate this exotic dish which my mom used to make a lot. Only later when I got older and my taste for food had gotten more evolved did I appreciate it. I also learned only recently that the Kulawo most likely originated right here in San Pablo City (as far as I know), and it is still very much largely unknown as a dish outside of Laguna.
Today, I decided to cook it myself.
Kulawo has been generally cooked using either of the two main ingredients: Puso ng Saging (banana heart) or Eggplant. I decided to go with eggplant. If you would like to try to cook it yourself, these are the ingredients that you will need:
4-6 large eggplants
coconut gratings from 2 coconuts
coconut shell charcoal
1 cup vinegar
4 medium sized onions
1 tsp salt
dash of pepper
First, I grilled four large eggplants in a charcoal grill. You can also grill it over a stove if you like:
Yes I grilled some Bangus as well. Don’t mind it. hehe. Recipe later.
When they’re all done grilling, they would look like this:
Set them aside for a while to let them cool. In the meantime, place the coconut gratings in a metal pan.
Place live coconut shell coals right on top of the coconut gratings. Keep fanning to keep the coal alive. Occasionally move the coal and sift the coconut to cook as much of it as you can. It’s inevitable that you will burn parts of it, but that’s all right. That’s what we want.
After the charcoal has died out, carefully remove the burnt charcoal with tongs. If they had completely gone out, you can do this by hand. Make sure you sift the gratings to evenly distribute the cooked and burnt areas.
Pour the vinegar on top of the gratings and set aside for a while.
Chop the onions:
By this time the eggplants have cooled enough for you to handle them with your hands. Carefully remove the blackened skin, slice, then lay them over a pan like this:
Go back to your gratings and then squeeze the milk out of them. Add the onions to the milk, then place it all in a cooking pan. Add the salt.
Slowly cook the coconut milk on medium heat. It is generally a rule to not stir any stew with vinegar in it to allow it to cook, but to prevent the milk from curdling, you do need to stir once in a while. Let it boil for around 5 minutes until the milk and onions are cooked. Remove from heat, then pour the mixture over the eggplants.
You can eat this already if you’re really hungry, but we generally refrigerate it for a while, probably an hour just to let everything settle and blend together. And here it is with the grilled bangus:
How to do the grilled Bangus? Here’s a quick recipe.
Get a large Bangus from your local market. You can usually request that they clean it and cut it for you, “daing” style.
In a medium sized bowl, mix 1 large chopped onion (or 2 medium sized ones), 1 large chopped tomato (or 2 medium sized ones), 1/3 cup oyster sauce, thumb sized ginger: grated, dash of pepper. Mix well. Place inside the fish cavity and then close it. Wrap fish inside aluminum foil and then grill, arond 12-18 minutes each side, depending on the size of the fish.
All right! there you have it! You have your San Pablo City style lunch, wherever you may be. Serve with hot rice!