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Tropical Cooking with Travel Man: 4th Main Dish - Pancit Buko

Updated on September 22, 2011

Ever heard of Pancit Buko or Buko Pancit? Don't worry it means the same thing. A little bit of trivia and tete-a-tete (chika-chika) while savoring its taste will lead you again to my  tropical cooking installment for the fourth time. I hope you don't get tired of my food journey here on HubPages.

Here I go again, on Travel Man's kitchen, ready to share the how tos, recipe, the food I eat, what goes around at the 'poor man's' culinary hub. I am saying this because I'm on a budget these days. To borrow the mantra of the local vegetarian, Super Lady, "eating vegetables is not poor. You are rich man in disguise." This is because the greens helps our body cleanse and get rid of toxic elements induced by eating meats and other food carcasses.

So, what I'm going to share with you was made out of desperation because my deaf-mute elder sister complained that there was no main dish on the table. The last minute preparation gave me an idea to try this. I don't have rice noodles (vermicelli or bihon) or the usual egg-flour noodles sold at the local market. So, my tired mind think of the young coconut that I still have to get from it's tree. Don't worry, I'm a bit of an expert when climbing a coconut tree.

In other words, I accomplished several things before the cooking highlights. I have to gather the following:

  1. buko - young coconut; mainly used as tropical refreshment, especially during summer time
  2. swamp cabbage - young leaves and stems, necessary as vegetable extender. There are two types growing at the backyard; the native (with dark-brown stems) ) and the Chinese swamp cabbage (with light green stems, planted by the Mother's Class two years ago).

The preparation time will occupy yourself in just 15 minutes! Very fast isn't it. Yes, fresh ingredients, especially vegetables must be half-cooked only. When overcooked, nutrients (vitamins and minerals) present on it will just evaporate.

So, are you ready to cook? Then, let's do it!!!

Pancit Buko by Travel Man
Pancit Buko by Travel Man
Buko Meat, as the main ingredient by Travel Man
Buko Meat, as the main ingredient by Travel Man
Spices: garlic, onion, ginger, salt and pepper by Travel Man
Spices: garlic, onion, ginger, salt and pepper by Travel Man
Swamp Cabbage stems by Travel Man
Swamp Cabbage stems by Travel Man
Young Leaves of Swamp  Cabbage by Travel Man
Young Leaves of Swamp Cabbage by Travel Man

Pancit Buko Ingredients and The Simplest Way to Cook It!!!

Sauteing is common in tropical cooking, especially here in Asia. It enhances the flavor of the main ingredient as the juices and aroma of the spices used go along with the dish.

In this recipe, I used:

  1. Garlic - with herbal properties; good for the heart
  2. Onion - with herbal properties; used as cold expectorant
  3. Ginger - with herbal properties; used a liniment for joint aches and rheumatism. You can make a ginger ale (or salabat) if you have some extra of it. Just remove it's outer covering, clean it, pound a little to let out its juice, then boil. Add sugar (brown preferably) if you like, to lessen its fiery taste.
  4. Black Pepper - with herbal properties; used as cold expectorant. My former Greek chief engineer asked me for a very finely ground black pepper (in 2002). He inhaled the aroma to ease the puffiness of his nose and loosen the airways.

Main Ingredient: Buko - Young Coconut Meat: In this dish, I scraped its meat to look like noodles. If you don't have a metal scraper, you can use a table fork than scrape the meat with a spoon.

Vegetable Extenders:

  • Swamp Cabbage - clean the stems and slice it diagonally, not so thinly; just a bite sizes.
  • Sardines - usually in tomato sauce; optional if you'll stick a veggie preparation.

Let's Cook the Pancit Buko:

  1. Sauté the spices in vegetable oil by using your wok (preheated at high temperature). You can also used the ordinary carbon-steel frying pan or the teflon-coated pan. Brown the spices; don't burn it.
  2. Add the young coconut meat in order to coat it with the flavors of spices. Inhale the aroma if you like. It's a sort of aroma therapy while cooking!
  3. Add the swamp cabbage stems. You can toss it to incorporate air for speedy cooking without losing much of its nutrients.
  4. Add the sardines with its sauce.Let is boil for two minutes. Cover the pan.
  5. Add the swamp cabbage young leaves.
  6. Salt to taste.Serves four. Bon Apetit!!!

Cooking Time: 15 minutes or less

Cooking with Travel Man: Pancit Buko c/o his official YouTube account: MrMusicman1971

The Buko and the Tree of Life

More often than not, the total tropical refreshment, I can say, is Buko or Young Coconut Meat. It's cheap but nutritious! Due to its saturated fat but less fat content, unlike other members of nuts family, it is dubbed as "The Tree of Life" due to its unlimited uses. I've also written a hub about coconut (Cocos Nucifera).

The Philippines, my country, is the largest coconut producer, to date. Aside from copra or dried coco meat used for the production of vegetable oil, lard and margarine, it is also used for making bath soaps and other cosmetic products (shampoo, lotion, etc.). You can also try our Nata de Coco at the tropical food stores around the world. It's one of the prime exports out of coconut.

I used to savor the coconut caramel (we call it santan) during my childhood days. You can make it at home, too! Just boil coconut milk in brown sugar. Presto! You have a simple coconut caramel that can be used as bread or sandwich filling and sweetener for halu-halo (ice delicacy filled with 12 fruits or sweets).

It's oil is used as herbal mix by herbalists in the country.

As for the buko, it's succulent taste can be compared to almonds or pili nuts (mostly abundant here in Bicol region). For men, who lack sperm count, buko juice is considered a natural treatment with it's young fresh meat; also with females who have estrogen or fertility problem.

The usual part used for viand is the coconut heart or ubod (white) once you cut the tree. The softest part on its foliage, with its sweet taste can be a good viand.

Culinary uses include: coconut flour or pureed milk, usually commercialized nowadays and coconut butter, much better than the usual butter that is high in fat content.

While you're , don't forget to make lots of macaroons out of the used grated coconut. Just mix it with sugar and little flour to add body then bake in an oven at medium temperature (60 degrees Celsius up to 100).

There are lots of cooking possibilities when it comes to coconut. Actually, it is making me nuts, sometimes (hehe! Kidding!).

Well, I'm off to another tropical dish right after this!


My Food Link, Tropical JOE

Oh, by the way. If you're interested to peruse, dissect, comment, have a gastronomic reactions on my Food Blog:, you can also open it. The contents are somewhat different or you can say similar to my series.

I christened it as Tropical JOE; sounds familiar, huh?! Well, if you like Travel Man, you'll also like my other alter ego.

Really, it started as a photo album on Facebook, because my kabayans (countrymen) who crave for local dishes (entrée, side-dishes and desserts) and missed it so much, while living abroad or working overseas.

With just a free domain ( to be upgraded if I already have ample fund for it) at free, I am pursuing to generate more traffic with your help, fellow hubbers.

So, if it's not too much for the asking, I hope you can help me with my Food Blog. I hope HubPages staff will not flag me for this link.

My BIG thanks to all of you!!!


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    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Howdy, Pading Rodel. I'm glad you visited. Sure, you can try this in your home, too. Masiramon, padi. (It's delicious, bro!)

    • profile image

      Rodel 5 years ago

      Ino, I will try this pancit buko recipe of yours when I get back to Bicol... seems delicious & ingredients are readily available in our place :)cheers!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @earthbound1974: If you have an ample time, you'll help me prepare other dishes, too. LOL! Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @thesailor: You're welcome. This is just an improvisation of an old Asian recipe. From time to time, I try innovating old dishes by using indigenous ingredients. well, look what happened, LOL!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Arian Rey: Yes, I'll share it with you but I don't have leftover now. I'll have to cook anew, for you, LOL!!!

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Romano Arnesto:I'm sure coconut macaroons will be a great tropical dessert. Just quench it with water and will leave you wanting more!

    • earthbound1974 profile image

      earthbound1974 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Such a very nice treat! Please share your expertise with me in the kitchen, LOL!!!

    • thesailor profile image

      thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas

      This is really a tropical treat! Thanks for sharing, travel man!

    • Arian Rey profile image

      Arian Rey 6 years ago from Pearl of the Orient Seas (PHILIPPINES)

      A new recipe worth-trying! Don't have much time. Can you just share the leftover? LOL!

    • Romano Arnesto profile image

      Romano Arnesto 6 years ago from Philippines

      Looks succulent! Coconut is very useful commodity in tropical countries. Loved the macaroons made from grated coconut and sugar.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Multiman: Thanks! You better try it, too! If you ran out of pasta noodles, then, this or like this meal, an alternative one, will be best to satisfy your palate.

    • profile image

      Multiman 6 years ago

      Great article on cooking, and I think I will have to try it.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @chamilj: Thanks for the compliment. There are lots of possibilities in cooking. A simple buko, usually serves as refreshment, can be a superb dish, too!

    • chamilj profile image

      chamilj 6 years ago from Sri Lanka

      Nice dish. We call Kurumba for Buko but never knew we can cook it. Here we just eat it after drinking the coconut water. Thanks !

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Cogerson: Yes, thanks! It's an easy-to-cook meal if you run out of pasta (like what happened to me).

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @DayLeeWriter: I would love to!!! You'll easily get acquainted with tropical cooking, I'm sure of that!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Great hub with looks like a great meal to try, thanks for sharing....voted up.

    • DayLeeWriter profile image

      Debra Cornelius 6 years ago from Georgia

      Good hub! Would love to travel, vist you and have you cook for me!