Been years, decades even, since the last time that I’ve got the opportunity to enjoy dinengdeng a singkamas, yes, singkamas, jicama, but I’m not talking about its delicious root, but of the fruit. Specifically the fruit or the young pod of singkamas vine growing wild and abundant, climbing up shrubs and trees in Casantolan, my place of birth, in Nueva Vizcaya.
Unfortunately, I didn’t see any jicama fruit in the local markets I’ve been to on my market forays here in Cagayan. I was wondering why, perhaps Cagayanos didn’t like, or maybe even didn’t know that singkamas fruit is edible and perfect for dinengdeng and pinakbet?
In Casantolan, we usually cook singkamas fruit as a dinengdeng soured with young salamagi (tamarind) fruit. The sourness maintains the crispness and texture of the singkamas pod and neutralizes its mild bittery taste. It’s good as a solo dinengdeng. Or with saluyot. Or with pallang and sabunganay and patani or with alukon. It’s also a perfect companion for that sweet buridibod. It also goes so well with pinakbet.
My quest for singkamas fruit here in Cagayan was finally over when I saw this singkamas vine on a wall of a certain house right in the center of the town no less, in Allacapan:
How so lovely, the pods are:
And I was so lucky that day, indeed, for when we stopped over at the talipapas along the highway in Nassiping, Gattaran, I saw this, behold, the elusive vegetable fruit of my childhood is right there before my still unbelieving eyes:
I dreamt of a sinalamagian (tamarind-soured) dinengdeng a bunga ti singkamas, but then I can’t find salamagi amongst the goods being sold. I instead saw this bunch of tugi (lesser yam):
The tugi will make a good buridibud with singkamas. I also bought some pallang. And here’s my bounty for the day:
Gorgeous pods, aren’t they?
Singkamas fruit has tiny brownish hairs on its skin, this is itchy to the skin and may cause an allergy of sort, so be careful handling the pods:
Small “native” pallangs, which is just the right partner of the singkamas fruit:
Here, wash and rinse the singkamas pods thoroughly and repeatedly to discard the itch-causing hair:
When it’s immaculately cleaned, cut the “starts” and “end” and then break open the pods in twos:
Do the same with the pallang:
“Skin” the tugi and cut it:
The trio is ready:
Cook the tugi first with the boiling water diluted with bugguong and with some slices of onion. When the yam is cooked, put in the singkamas and pallang. Get to a quick boil. Do not overcook the veggies, it should be crisp, green, but tender:
Heres’s the buridibod, it’s so insanely delicious though it’s just a simple basic dinengdeng/buridibod (I didn’t add any sagpaw; though, if it’s available, it will be great with grilled fish like tilapia, bangus, dalag or paltat, or with dried fish and shrimp, or with smoked fish, or even with grilled chicken). I mashed some tugi cubes into the little soup for a thicker and sweeter broth:
I really relished this dinengdeng, eating with so much gusto while reminiscing my childhood days in Casantolan…