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The Theoretical Cook

A FOODY IN THE THIRD WORLD

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Luz Kinilaw in Davao City



As my host put it: if youve never been to Luz Kinilaw, then youve never been to Davao.
I have spent many summer vacations in Davao City as a child. For some reason, I never got around to visiting Luz Kinilaw. I have been to the chicken barbecue heaven Kulasas; Ive enjoyed deep fried crabs at Ahfat, and so on - but I have deprived myself of Luz' delights all this while: bagaybay, panga, grilled squid, and of course, the kinilaw. And what a feast I have missed!
About the kinilaw, I was somewhat taken aback at first. Im from the strong- native -vinegar-with- lots -of ginger- and- onion school of thought when it comes to kinilaw. Like many people, raw fish is raw fish - and the only way I can truly savor it is if I taste that the fish has been 'cooked' by the strong acid of the vinegar (that the texture of the fish has become somewhat rubbery), or if the fish is truly fresh and the attack of the sauce overpowers everything else ( yes I am referring to that green Japanese paste wasabi). Luz' kinilaw was not of the pallid rubbery sort that I was used to - it looked like fatter sashimi with the wasabi nowhere in sight. I was not too excited to partake of it, fearing that it might ruin my appetite for the other orders, but lo and behold, when I tasted it, it tasted clean and smooth. Clean in the sense that I could taste something of the sea, some ginger and onion, and curiously something sour but not exactly vinegar. The strongest taste was that of the sea. Hence, clean to the tongue (like other fresh fresh raw sea food).
Now, having been gone too long from this blog, and having spent most of my waking time 'working' in the real world, what I really feel like talking about is the bagaybay. The wonderful thing about food, especially 'novel' food, is that it restores one's childhood sense of wonder. And I was awed, at the same time, somewhat repelled by the bagaybay. The bagaybay, according to my companions, are tuna gonads. I havent had time to research on tuna gonads - so I will limit myself to a discussion of the taste and texture of the bagaybay.
The bagaybay, like a lot of 'strange' meat, tastes like chicken. At least, thats the first taste that 'attacks' you, and then the taste changes. First, the texture of the meat is very smooth, its like eating something velvety, and theres that melt in your mouth feeling. And the taste is not really fishy, or maybe it was so fresh, or again maybe it was the texture, the bagaybay had an initial chicken attack that was replaced by a more unique taste that reminded me of nothing Ive tasted in the past. There were jokes about it being an aphrodisiac, and one of my companions had a mighty flushed face, which everyone else blamed on the bagaybay. I was left with a befuddled mind, unsure of what to compare the taste with, and yet liking it anyway.
Of course, the tuna panga was excellent, and the inner flesh (the best parts are the inner recesses, moist and tender) were scraped until the fish bone was clean. And we closed with a plate of ripe mangoes.

21 Comments:

Blogger relly said...

Hello, i still dont know how to call you.. beside theoretical cook.
We had the same Pilipino cookbook of Aling charing... maybe if we may have both time.. we can try some recipes..
I have tried the pancake or hotcake recipes.. so far this is one of my preference from all the recipes i have tried.. light and fluffy!
I am also busy here .. more busy from April to September... and here it is too dificult to hire some house help.. unlike to pinas.. we can be relieve by the house chores.. and go on with our carreers. Cheers!

8:58 PM  
Blogger relly said...

By the way.. i still have a lot of things to know about Philippine cuisine.. like some from the islands and the south of the country..

8:59 PM  
Blogger Theoretical Cook said...

Hi Relly! Sure, maybe you can host an Aling Charing cookbook theme. We can invite others.
And I will be spending lots of time in the South so Ill post as much as I can about food in the region.
You can call me TC:)

8:13 AM  
Blogger Jhaw said...

Hi TC! Bagaybay is actually Tuna entrails. You're right, they're delicious! I visited the place last december, and like you, i also fell in love with their kinilaw. Just don't look out the windows on the second floor, don't even try to take a table beside it because you'll begin to imagine where do they get their tuna!!!

10:14 AM  
Blogger Theoretical Cook said...

Hi JHaw,
Hmn... we should coordinate our travels at one point.... theory foodie meets goodie foodie. Re bagaybay: would you know of any eatery/grill/resto here in Manila or hereabouts that serves bagaybay?

5:44 PM  
Blogger Jhaw said...

hmmm...i am not sure with that, but we can always look for one. I'll let you know as soon as i find one...

10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can buy "bagaybay" and other tuna innards at pasay market. just look for Jr. Longhair.

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