LOCAL PRODUCE AND WHERE TO FIND THAT ‘SPECIAL ITEM’
While this site is primarily about Eating Out in Bohol and providing visitors to the province an independent assessment of the dining options around town, we realise that many of our readers are expatriates actually living in Bohol full time or visiting regularly for extended periods of time.When you live in another country as an expatriate you not only experience the exciting challenges of identifying local vegetables, fruits and meat products and the best places to buy them but also the challenges of finding items such as ‘comfort foods’ and ‘snacks’ that are uniquely connected to your place of origin.
If you are living in Bohol you are fortunate enough to live in a somewhat isolated paradise but a paradise that is very well serviced by modern malls (ICM and BQ) and an eclectic mix of smaller food shopping options. Many of these outlets have ‘international’ sections with a reasonable range of products but many other speciality items are sometimes hard to come by or suffer from the ‘out of stock’ syndrome.
This page is an attempt at collating a comprehensive list of places where you can find elusive food products in Bohol and how to identify and prepare local produce. If you know of any other source that our readers may be interested in please email us.
TIP: If you ever see a food product you like at any of the large malls, buy it! Inevitably it won’t be there again when next you visit.
Locals refer to fresh food markets as ‘Wet Markets’ and you will find one in most towns all across the province of Bohol. The bigger the town the bigger the wet market and depending on what is grown in the area you can sometimes find a focus on one type of product. A good case in point is the wet market in Manga which is an outlet for fresh seafood. The major wet market in Tagbilaran is sited near ICM and boasts a wide range of produce from fresh meats and seafood to vegetables and fruits. You will also find a seafood market at the western causeway crossing to Panglao.INTERNATIONAL FOODS
There are a number of small retail operations that offer an eclectic range of processed and fresh produce ranging from pastas to smoked meats and baked goods. Most of these operations are linked to restaurants but you can often find that elusive ingredient.
Address : 4th Floor. BQ Mall, C.P.G Avenue, Tagbilaran City, Bohol Philippines Landline number : +63 038 4114047 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CU Restaurant and Deli
Ester A. Lim Drive Tawala, Panglao Island, 6340 Bohol Tel/Fax: (038) 502 8308
Tawala, Panglao Island, (975 meters away from Alona Beach), Panglao Island, Philippines
Ph: +63 38 502 4255
WET MARKET PRODUCE
Wet markets offer a wide range of produce from fresh meats and vegetables to seafood and herbs. The guide below names a number of unfamiliar vegetables and how they are used locally. Just flick through the book below to see.
Sure you can buy coconut milk in cans at the supermarket but if you want the real taste of authentic coconut milk and cream in your favourite asian dish, just head over to the coconut stall. For only 20 pesos you get a large bag of coconut pulp that you can take home to make fresh milk/cream.
There are a number of ways to prepare the milk but one of the easiest ways is to pour warm water over the flesh and allow it to sit for five minutes. Once the time is up just squeeze the juice from the pulp into a container and then strain out any of the pulp. You add as much water as you like (usually equal quantities) but the more water you add the more milky it is. The less water the creamier it is.
TIP: The pulp can be frozen and used at a later date.
In the Philippines a variety of Kangkong is grown in canals dug by the Americans during the occupation after the Spanish American war. Another variety in the Philippines that grows on land is called “Chinese Kangkong” in the Philippines as opposed to the variety that is grown in water that is simply called Kangkong or “native” Kangkong. The vegetable is a common ingredient in Southeast Asian dishes. In Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, the leaves are usually stir-fried with chili pepper, garlic, ginger, dried shrimp paste (belacan/terasi) and other spices. In Penang and Ipoh, it is cooked with cuttlefish and a sweet and spicy sauce.
Like many of the specialty vegetables listed this large leaf vegetable is used for soup and stir fried dishes.
You will often find stall holders making good use of their time cutting up a mix of vegetables for stirfrys and soups. Each stall seems to have a different mix, more often than not reflecting their produce. These mixes are a great ‘quick fixes’ and something to consider when you’re are meandering around the wet market.
Young leaves and shoots (locally known as talbos ng kamote or camote tops) are eaten fresh in salads with shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) or fish sauce. They can be cooked in vinegar and soy sauce and served with fried fish (a dish known as adobong talbos ng kamote), or with recipes such as sinigang.The stew obtained from boiling camote tops is purple-colored, and is often mixed with lemon as juice.
Without fail you will always find a range of fresh squid and octopus within the seafood section of the wet market. Squid and octopus offerings range from huge cuttle fish to monster octopus and micro squid (pictured). There are no shortages of squid recipes ranging from Italian staples and Thai specialities . The list goes on and on. To choose fresh squid look at the eyes. They should be bright and clear with no clouding and don’t forget to smell the squid, it should have a fresh ocean smell.
Said to have many medicinal purposes (stomach upsets and healing wounds) the small leafed plant is used in soups and as a flavouring for fish (stuffed in the cavity). The picture shows it being sold with lemon grass.