Filipino Mechelle Betita and her French husband, Daniel Collot, are determined to replicate the French method of cooking jam using Philippine tropical fruits.
“Making jam at home is very French,” Collot said. “I probably made my first batch when I was 6 or 7 years old.”
The couple established Lola’s Garden Jam in 2011 in Sum-ag, Bacolod, to pay tribute to Daniel’s paternal grandmother, Suzanne, who taught him how to prepare jam the old-fashioned way, using fruits picked in her backyard.
“We make use of just the right amount of sugar and cook it just to the point when it is done, without overcooking the fruit,” Collot said.
They don’t use any chemicals and when possible, only natural and organic products go into their fruit preserves. The high-quality jams are then cooked in small batches.
“Our products are not factory products,” he said.
‘Batwan’ for ‘kansi’
One of their products is batwan purée.
Retailer Virginia Chua prodded the Collots to produce batwan in purée form to allow those in distant places to cook authentic kansi and sinigang with batwan.
The first time I ever tried the Visayan sour fruit was when I received fresh ones from Gari Palmani years back. My sinigang was rounded, sour yet refined. It was not the kind that makes you cringe but instead makes you crave for more.
It has been a while since I have been able to cook with it as the fresh fruit does not keep long.
Recently, however, I was gifted with Lola’s Garden Jam’s batwan purée by Jenny Co and Stevie Villacin. As expected, my sinigang dishes of late have that clean tartness to it.
Easy to use
The batwan purée is ready to use. Simply add it to boiling water, adjusting the quantity according to taste. The usual proportion is three tablespoons of the purée to 1 liter of water.
It can also be used to marinate fish and shrimps.
Add batwan purée to your barbecue recipes or marinate the meat with soy, sugar, salt and pepper before grilling.
Brush a whole chicken inside out with the purée. Season the bird with salt and pepper and stuff the cavity with lemon grass. The chicken is now ready to roast.
Store the opened purée in the refrigerator.
Here are some sour soup recipes. Substitute the souring agent with batwan and savor the difference.
Milky Way’s ‘sinigang na’ salmon
Courtesy of chef J Gamboa
4 cups water
1 piece thumb-size ginger, peeled and sliced
1 pc large tomato, quartered
1 pc small onion, quartered
½ c daikon radish, sliced
½ c sitaw, sliced
1 c kangkong, washed, trimmed
¼ c mustard leaves, whole
¼ c puso ng saging, sliced
1 pc siling pang sigang
1 c tamarind purée (boil fresh tamarind in water until tender and pass through strainer)
1 pc salmon steak, 220 grams
1 tablespoon patis
Salt and pepper
In a wok, combine water, ginger, tomato, onion, daikon radish and sitaw. Bring to a boil and simmer until sitaw is tender.
Add kangkong, mustard leaves, puso ng saging, siling pang sigang and tamarind purée to the mixture. Bring to a boil. Add salmon and simmer for about 4 to 6 minutes or until cooked through. Season with patis, salt and pepper.
Tip: Gently simmer salmon instead of boiling so that the flesh remains tender and juicy.
Courtesy of Provenciano Restaurant’s chef Hernan de Jesus
1 kg native chicken (with itlogan, atay at balunbalunan)
1 L hugas bigas
250 ml purée of fresh sampalok (preboiled and strained)
50 g sampalok blossom
150 g tomatoes
75 g onion
50 g ginger
75 g lemon grass
¼ c patis
100 g radish white
200 g banana heart (white)
75 g sitaw
75 g eggplant
2 tali ng kangkong
3 pcs long green sili
150 g taro or gabi
Preboil chicken in rice water for 1 hour until tender.
Add tomatoes, onion, ginger and lemongrass and boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add tamarind, radish, banana heart, sitaw and eggplant; boil for 10 minutes.
Add fish sauce to taste, white pepper, kangkong, sili and boil 5 minutes. Do not cover pot when adding kangkong to maintain the green color of leaves.
Serve with patis, calamansi and sili.
‘Sinigang na dulong’ à la Joe Aspiras
My dad’s breakfast fare
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 leaves lemongrass, bruised and tied into a knot
350 g cherry tomatoes
1 green sili pang sigang
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt
1 L water
Radish, sliced paper thin
2 tbsp patis
Miso, tamarind paste or batwan purée to taste
1 kg dulong (or salmon belly or salmon head)
¼ c cilantro, leaves and stems
1 c watercress
In a pot, heat oil.
Sauté onions, garlic, lemongrass, cherry tomatoes, sili pang sigang and whole peppercorn.
Add water, radish and patis. Boil and simmer until tomatoes are mushy.
Add batwan, tamarind or miso, adjusting quantity to taste.
Season with salt and patis
Add dulong and bring to a boil.
Add wansuy and watercress.
Serve with rice and fried sunny-side up egg.
“Batwan” purée, Virgie’s,
59 San Sebastian St., Bacolod.
Call (34) 4341588.