The Underdog Fruit

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. πŸ™‚ 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. 😊

Santol or Cotton 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,

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.

The ingredients

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 ΒΌ kg slices of pork and ΒΌ 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.

Published by Maria Cristina Gino Baroso

Education advocate and travel lover

89 thoughts on “The Underdog Fruit

      1. Or the stolen mangoes from the neighbours tree, dipped in salt and drenched in vinegar and sugar… or the white butter guavas, also stolen! πŸ™‚
        NO, we were not rogues, the neighbours didnt believe in sharing and hey, we were very young!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hahahahaah…. wow! We also did what you said. We had a lot of guava trees and mangoes in our barrio and they were “free” for us back then. And we use to snack with green guavas/mangoes/Santol with vinegar and salt dips… πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Childhood memories… πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Best memories…
        Until the old man caught me because I wanted this highest and the best guava, hit me with an iron on the back of my leg. I was little then and went home crying.
        Got to love my Grandma, she went for him, She knew that he was an old grouch! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 2 people

  1. I’ve little knowledge of Santol, what turns it the purple color? And is it a dish you could eat with a flatbread? You suggested steamed rice, but I was wondering if it’s used as a spread of some sort as well.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. When you left the grated flesh without soaking them with salt and water, their color would turn brown… It’s due to the biochemical reactions known as β€œenzymatic browning” just like apples. Some of us would sweeten Santol flesh like a jam or spread for breads. But the most popular is Santol stew in coconut milk. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚


  2. I’ve never tasted it, but I just looked it up. It seems it grows wild in some parts of India, but its not commercially popular. Now, after I can begin to travel again, I think I need to go there and taste this fruit.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Wow! I like & tried Laing & Bicol Express, I also can find it here. I tried pili in PH as well. Pinangat & sinantol not yet.. Well Bicol is known for delicious foods. Hopefully can visit there.. πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­β€οΈ

        Liked by 1 person

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