"There are many trees in the forest, but one is the best!" What is it?
Have you ever heard this sort of bugtong? For sure, you already know the answer because of the obvious clue posted.
The answer is batwan or batuan. Why? Let's go back, read it again: "There are many trees in the forest, BATWAN is the best!"
Batwan, pronounced as bat-wan in Hiligaynon/Ilonggo dialect, is a fruit commonly used as a souring agent in cooking. It is the star ingredient in cooking KBL, sinigang, paksiw, cansi and any sour recipes of the cooks in Western Visayas especially Ilonggos and Negrenses, and also in some parts of Eastern Visayas and Mindanao too.
Batwan is a huge tree and when in season, it fruits aplenty. Its only close relative is mangosteen.
When cooking, it is best to use batwan fresh or a maximum of 3 days after purchase. It should be firm and green in color without blemishes.
The taste is described as sour but not acidic, a tartness that promotes saliva in the mouth without impacting on the stomach, the way vinegar or even kalamansi often does. The kind of sourness that only batwan can deliver.
An important part of the souring arsenal of cooks in Negros Occidental and some parts of Panay, batwan is also actually found in abundance in Bohol and Mindanao. But, it seems that only Negrenses and cooks in certain parts of Panay have discovered the flavors of batwan.
Usually selling between Php30 to Php40 a kilo, seasonal batwan can go as much as Php80 a kilo when it disappears from the markets, which cannot be forecasted.
Do you have any recipe that uses batwan in the ingredients? Share it here!