Cotton Fruit or Santol in Coconut Milk (Gulay na Santol)
Of all the fruits, Cotton Fruit or popularly known as Santol in the Philippines is the so-called the Underdog. Even among fruits, there’s a ‘bullying’ that exists. 🙂 Kidding aside, Pinoys would not agree to that. Sinantol or Santol Stew in Coconut Milk is a mouthwatering dish, that will give you a flavorful balance – a little sour, spicy and creamy – favorite in Pinoy’s cuisine. It’s best paired with a cup of hot steamed rice. If eaten raw, Santol flesh and seeds are sweet and a little bit sour. It’s one of our popular snacks way back in high school. We would always fall in line while waiting for the vendor to peel off the yellow Santol skin, then slice it’s flesh and wrap it with some salt and we’re always satisfied to eat this as our snacks. I can’t believe it’s an underdog fruit. 😊
On nutritional value, Santol fruits are a good source of iron, which is a mineral that can help move oxygen in the blood, and fiber which helps regulate digestion. The fruits also contain Calcium, Phosphorus, and Vitamin C. See this link for more details, https://specialtyproduce.com/produce/Santol_11159.php.
As already mentioned, aside from eating the fruit raw, we cooked it in coconut milk with chili. Some add smoked fish flakes or Tinapa, shrimp paste and/or slices of pork.
For Gulay na Santol or Cotton Fruit in Coconut Milk, the ingredients are 5 cups scraped/grated flesh of Santol. To lessen the sourness of the fruit, once you’re done scraping/grating all the Santol flesh, place them in a cheese cloth, add some salt and extract some of its juice. Please take note that when you’re grating the Santol flesh, place them in a bowl with water and salt so that their color would not change or turn brown. For the coconut milk, you need 8 cups, 1 red onion, 4 pieces chili, 1 piece ginger and 4 cloves garlic. I added ¼ kg slices of pork and ¼ cup shrimp paste.
For the cooking process
Saute the garlic, ginger, and onion. Add the slices of pork until they turn almost brown and tender, then add the shrimp paste. Wait for 1-2 minutes. Then add the coconut milk. Bring to boil, add the grated/scraped Santol flesh. Simmer until the coconut milk becomes a little oily. Add in the slices of chili, taste with salt, add a dash of sugar. This dish is best paired with steamed rice and fried fish.
For a 100% vegan treat, you may not add pork or shrimp paste for this dish.