Memories of Sun-kissed Guavas
It’s the season of guava, the native one, which is small—smaller than pear or apple, but can be just as crunchy, and not as small or as soft as berries. When ripe, they become pink inside and quite fragrant, at least to those people who are fond of it. For the uninitiated to Filipino cuisine, particularly Tagalog, it’s not fragrant at all, but contrary and quite strong, it leaves a distinctive scent wherever it is placed even momentarily.
Guava trees flourish in tropical places, which makes it grow anywhere in the islands. On sunny afternoons in the vast farming regions, the evergreen trees are frequented by children climbing, picking the green to yellowish fruits to snack on, as a respite from school and sports like habulan, patintero, or taguan.
At home, Grandma makes guava jelly out of ripe and soft guavas. Quite rich in pectin, it gels naturally as it simmers. She lovingly pours her precious concoction in dainty old jars and reserves them for breakfasts with hot pandesal, or as gratuity for thoughtful grandchildren and neighbors.
Meanwhile, Auntie, who is a seasoned cook as one would expect, sets aside the ripest and the softest fruits to make a Sinigang na Bangus sa Bayabas (Milkfish and Tropical Vegetables in Guava Broth) for dinner. She carves out the core and juices it, and slices the pink pulps to make a delicate tasting sweetish broth, that’s never overwhelmingly sour, only fruity and refreshing.
Now native pink guavas seem like a distant memory, when you’re in the city or abroad and hardly have access to guava even if it’s in season. Thoughts of Sinigang sa Bayabas can make Tagalogs, and even Kapampangans, quite homesick, for no other people celebrate the goodness of guava broths quite like them.
Mama Sita’s Sinigang sa Bayabas Mix is an earnest offering to soothe anyone’s longing for the beloved guava broth, although for sure, nothing can still compare with the one that’s slowly simmered with real ripe guava fruits.
Sinigang sa Bayabas
(Tropical Vegetables in Guava Broth)
Makes 4 servings
|onion, cut into quarters
|tomatoes, cut into quarters
|taro (gabi), peeled and cut into quarters
|Mama Sita’s Sinigang sa Bayabas Mix
|radish (labanos), peeled and sliced diagonally
|sweet potato tops, washed
fish sauce (patis) to taste
1. Boil water, then add onion, tomatoes, and taro. Simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Add Mama Sita’s Sinigang sa Bayabas Mix. Simmer uncovered for 3 minutes.
3. Add the radish, okra, and finger chilies. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. Season with fish sauce.
4. Remove from heat. Add the sweet potato tops. Cover for a few minutes.
5. Serve hot.