Creamy and subtly sweet with the heat of chilies, this dish of shredded heart of palm in coconut cream is not lacking in meatiness either.
Yes, it is ubod (heart of palm) but stop thinking that it’s only good for lumpiang ubod — those delectable spring rolls with crepe-like wrappers. There are so many other ways to enjoy ubod and wrapping is not always required.
These days, you can buy shredded ubod in styrofoam trays from supermarkets. Very convenient as the ubod can go straight into the pan. The problem is that you don’t get the best — most tender and least fibrous — parts of the ubod. So, I still say it is best to buy choice whole chunks of ubod from the market and julienne it by hand.
If, however, you opt for the convenience of pre-cut ubod, know that the cooking time is longer and it is best to boil the ubod in water until tender before adding to the sautéed meat and spices. Cooking time can be anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes, use minimal amount of water so that most of it evaporates during cooking.
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 shallots thinly sliced
- a thumb-sized piece of ginger grated
- 3 to 4 finger chilies roughly chopped
- 250 grams very thinly sliced pork belly cut into half-inch strips
- patis (fish sauce), to taste
- 350 to 500 grams ubod julienned (pre-boiled if rather fibrous)
- 1 large carrot julienned
- 1 cup very thick coconut cream (see how to extract or use canned or powdered dissolved in warm water)
- 1/3 cup finely sliced scallions (onion leaves)
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
- Saute the garlic, onion, ginger and chilies until fragrant, about a minute.
- Add the pork. Cook, stirring, until no longer pink. Season with fish sauce. Cook until the the pork is tender and has rendered fat (let it brown if you like), about 10 minutes (if the pork is rather tough, you may need to add water — just allow to evaporate during cooking).
- Add the julienned carrot, stir and cook for about five minutes.
- Add the ubod.
- Pour in the coconut cream. Add more fish sauce, if needed.
- Boil gently, uncovered, for another couple of minutes until the solid ingredients have absorbed most of the coconut cream and the mixture is quite dry.
- Sprinkle in the scallions. Toss. Serve hot.
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