Katuday (sesbania grandiflora) tree, along with the marunggay tree, and even the alukon tree, is often planted along roadsides in most Ilocos provinces and in front/backyards of Ilokano houses. You know you are in Ilocos or in an ilokano neighborhood if you see one, or a combination, or all, of these staple Ilokano "fixtures:" marunggay tree, katuday tree, alukon tree. If not planted right on the ground, you can sometimes notice "miniaturized" or "portable" versions planted in a sack or cut steel drum. Although, of course, katuday (katuray in Tagalog) is not exclusively Ilokano because other Filipino peoples also like it. But Ilokanos just love it as a salad drenched with bugguong and garnished with slices of tomatoes and onions. And you can also find it as a floral part in a dinengdeng a bulbulong (boiled leafy greens) along with karabasa blossoms. Katuday is also wonderful with your inabraw nga aba or ginettaan nga aba (taro stems/leaves/roots stew, or cooked in coconut milk), the bittersweet character of the flower leaves a unique sweetish aftertaste.
But I prefer the simple kinilnat a katuday (blanched) or ensalada a katuday. Put in a little amount of water in a pan, let it boil to bubling point and then put in your prepared and rinsed katuday blossoms. Let it boil for some three minutes or less then transfer it immediately into a bowl and garnish it with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona).
A note on preparing the flowers: to be assured of a naturally sweet katuday dish, do not rinse or soak throughly in water, to secure the nectar inside the flower (those which already blossomed). Also, when already cooked, do not squeeze the boiled blossoms. You can also just blanch the flowers to capture more of the of the nectar: rinse the flowers and with some waters clinging to the petals and all, put it in a pan without water and cover it, set it on high heat. After a couple minutes, check if the flowers are already somehow wilted, put off fire and transfer the flowers to a bowl and garnish.
(Originally blogged June 11, 2009)