Looking For Kabuteng Mamarang

From my previous post. Kabuteng Mamarang (Termitomyces cartilagineus).

When I was a kid. I often mistaken the kabuteng saging ( banana mushroom ) with this kabuteng mamarang. They look similar to me except for one obvious thing. The first grow in rotting banana corm. After cutting off the trunk for harvest. The trunk will rot in downward passion, until it reaches the corm. When conditions are favorable. It is rainy days, I think. I do not see any during summer months. Mushroom will grow on it. Father said it was not what I thought. It is poisonous but can be remedied with right cooking trick. The rough idea of boiling in several changes of water before adding other desired ingredients. He never demonstrated it to us. I bet he never had first hand experience.

This reminds me of nami and pungapong. It has to be harvested right and do the cooking right or your screwed. The same is true for the popular cassava. You can get cyanide poisoning if you do something wrong of buy from the wrong vendor. Staple potato may also bring harm if not stored correctly. All mishandled food items may bring harm anyway. No need to think too hard about it.

Month of August on our way home. A friend who happened to be driving for us asked about the kabuteng mamarang. He loves the ordinary wild mushroom (kabuteng parang). His friend who used to give him bunches is now selling it to him, every piece. That is right. Sample first then the rest are for sale. He is buying all of it with no question because he like it.

The mamarang exceptional flavor is just a rumor to him. He is willing to go in our place in haste in case we find one selling. A guy willing to travel for taste adventures.

Both wild mushroom can be hunted in the wild during August to September. Time may vary from place to place due to changes in weather conditions. The usual spots are pusngo, a hard and sticky solid mound built by termites. It may also sprout on flat grounds. Hunters know numerous spot. They go on hunt very early in the morning. Like bird hunting. Whoever catches is the rightful owner.

I have plenty of experience in wild mushroom hunting. Those with unopened caps taste better than…. Soft and wormy are usually left to rot. The little worms are sort of harmless but have an “ew” factor. Soft become soggy and tasteless after cooking.

The common mushroom has dirty white cap, sometimes yellowish brown. It can be gathered from one spot for several days. The cap has skin that is peeled off before cooking. Maybe it is also edible. I have not eaten one yet. I automatically peel them off. They peel it, so I also do it.

The mamarang on the other hand, only grows on one spot once. Let’s say the harvest today is absolute. None can be found tomorrow. The cap surface has dark brown shade. Peeling is not necessary. I tried once before. It was not easy and not worth. Our ancestors might have felt the same way.

The best recipe for both is the simplest. Boiled with ginger and a dash of salt. Fried kabute taste like chicken, especially the stalk part. Burger patties and siomai are nice too, but they are commonly done for commercial oyster mushroom.


Fresh harvest can be stored for later in refrigerator. Freezer compartment can do it for longer periods.

If you want and never know where to get. Hunt sellers instead. Go to public market early in the morning or look along road sides. Farm owners have the habit of displaying their produce near road in hope of someone buying it sooner for higher price. Scout for them. He drove slowly and we were lucky enough to found one seller along baranggay road. Our friend immediately bought the only 1/4 kilo left.

As of date, I never know anyone who successfully cultured this inside the lab. The variety commonly sold locally is oyster mushroom, the same species in mushroom burgers.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Fine Crushed Ice

Can’t remember what it was. But…it was something similar to mais con yelo or halo-halo. The small block on top was leche flan. It was gone in a blink of an eye. It could be halo-halo. I couldn’t see if there were any fruit cubes underneath because the crushed ice was cloudy. Chance was, the flavoring was mixed prior to ice preparation. It was safe to assume they used flavored ice. Then it became a flavored crushed ice used for making this delicious dessert.

fine crushed ice

I saved pictures for posting because of its striking feature. It has fine crushed ice which brings a smoother taste experience. I felt it like a lighter version of ice cream. Minus the cream and lesser sweetness.

How can we achieved the same?

I suggest crushing ice in a chilled chamber. The grinding process increases surface area that makes it more susceptible to melting. The heat generated by equipment make the situation worst. Cold environment can arrest it, allowing more time to achieve finer ice particles.

What could be the grinding equipment candidate? I have no idea at this point in time. Sure there is one or two. I will update as soon as possible. It could be spraying water mist below freezing point. The result is soft fluffy ice, a snow.

Adding flavor prior to freezing and crushing. Warm ingredients to ice mix will quicken melt. Lesser water content also affects the final texture significantly toward the better. If the ice candy or halo-halo has little natural flavoring. Then it doesn’t matter if we crushed it in a chilled chamber, add the flavor prior or quick freeze it.

Quick freezing. Normal vs quick… The very good example of this is our everyday cheap ice candy. Notice we are commonly biting large chunks of tasteless ice. It has something to do with slow freezing. We stir the mixture well during preparation, but, when we freeze it slowly, the water molecules have enough time to come together again. A usual scenario in home refrigerators. We are lowering the thermostat setting to lowest possible and throwing in as much food as we can. Aging equipment and loose door seal are also contributing factors. Quick freezing on the other hand keeps the ice particles smaller.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Plant Based Cracker/Chips Making

Clients request was making mushroom chips. Prior to this, several persons were asking me if they can make crackling or chips out of vegetables. Teach them the trick in case.

First we analyze. Starting with the meat and fish. Every time mom ask us to fry some fresh fish, we set aside some to fry it to brittleness. Basically, after the fish is done and the cooking is continued, more and more water is driven out until it turn brown and brittle. Fish and meat seem to be more enjoyable when it crack in between teeth. The fatty meat portion, the popular pork back-fat, tends to bubble that gives chicharon its characteristic looks.

Now we go on plant-based. The popular for this are corn, rice, potato, banana and cassava. Potato, banana and cassava can be sliced thinly and fried to achieved the desired crisp. The same commodities together with the rest can be ground, reformed and mixed with flavors to create variants. Veggies and fish crackers are made by grinding, mixing with powder (the previous I’ve mentioned) drying, then frying. It may imitate the appearance of pork chicharon depending on trick employed.

The first requirement is obvious. It must be dry. All moisture must be driven out. The covering of chicken leg and nugget can be made crispy but it won’t last long because the inside moisture will sip out and the outside air moisture will come in. The reason why french fries only last for few minutes and one must consume a bag of potato chips immediately after opening. Refrigeration keeps the crisp longer because the equipment sucks away moisture.

The second requirement is starch. All the popular chips have this in common. They are all rich in starch. Rolling chicken leg and shrimp in cornstarch or all purpose flour make them crispy on the outside while maintaining inside juiciness. For just money sake, one can make very cheap cracker by mixing flour, cornstarch, rice powder and flavorings.

There might be other things to consider in meat fatty tissues. However, we are focus on plant-based products at the moment. We will forget about the meat thing.

I observed the mushroom chips in supermarket and grocery stores. All of them are covered with cornstarch. The basic is this. First, the mushroom is dried, then dipped in beaten egg, rolled on cornstarch (or maybe tapioca), then lastly, fried. It might be the only way. But, the roasted peanut seller can make the garlic crispy without adding anything.

I tried series of trial and error and came up with few acceptable results. In the end, they choose the trial covered with egg and starch.

mushroom chicharon

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

Cashew, Pieces of Information

It was our second time in Palawan. Hello again kasuy!

Other than its main commodity, cacao is becoming popular crop in the province. Government authorities, NGOs and some big private sectors are joining together to populate Palawan and the whole country with the in-demand cacao tree.

cashew seeds

We did lecture and demo of cacao processing on the first day and participated in cashew processing on the second day.

When we said cashew, we often refer to nuts. The cashew apple is often neglected and it is indeed neglected in reality. Farmers harvest the seed (containing the nut) and leave the apple to rot. Mature cashew apple only last for few days. It is not a regular eat. It is edible but only few bother. In case, those can only consume a few. The seed on the other hand is longer lasting and commands a high price.

I was wrong. The seed is indeed longer lasting, but, the nut inside may not if improperly stored. Ants can pierce through a soft seed part and haul away the nut. The storage trick is not shared though. There was a story about this rich merchant who hauled a lot of seed during fruiting season. Off season came when he planned selling. All of his haul was infested.

The idea about seed broiling fumes being bad to native chicken is true. I thought it was superstition. The thick seed coat has toxic sap causing skin burns. I think, during broiling, this toxic substance evaporates and the chickens are very sensitive to it.

The seeds are steamed before nut extraction. Not sure why. The lecture and demo were focused on use of cashew apple. I got more information by asking them. Steaming may have something to do with removal of toxin.

Cashew nuts are divided to two categories. The halves and the whole kernel. The first is extracted by means of the traditional tool “kalukati”. It is basically a knife which the end is fixed to a fulcrum. A more appropriate description is a nut cracker which one lever is a wedge. It breaks the seeds to halves including the nut. Then it is force off the seed with a pointed tool.

The whole kernel need a different tool. The contraption compose of two wedges just enough to cut through the seed coat without damaging the nut. One wedge is then twisted to break it open revealing the whole nut. Another operation follows. The removal of hard testa covering.

The cashew nuts maybe sold as raw, roasted or fried. Others are preparing cashew brittle, panutsa and butter spread.

Cashew apple, which was the highlight of lecture and demo, can be processed to wine, vinegar, jams, prunes and cookies. They are promoting such to help increase farmer’s income.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

The Square Suman

These square blocks were suman. Judging based on how it unwrapped, it was suman sa lihiya. The wrapper was sticking strongly to cake. The other variant, which is suman sa antala (suman sa gata) has easier to remove wrapping. The color is usually lighter green.

square suman with puto and syrup sauce

Outside color is superficial. The mix of brown and green. Banana leaves are green. It turn brown when heated due to degradation of chlorophyll . Some pigments are transferred to suman during cooking. The lihiya (lye water), maybe, has something to do with it too.

Note: To put it simply, lye water is a strong alkali solution. It contributes to gummy and sticky suman characteristics. On the other hand, coconut milk has greasy effect. I like both, but often want somebody to unwrap it for me.

unwrapped square suman

The case is different with suman cassava. The color is light brown with no traces of green pigment. The color is inherent to cassava itself.

The taste confirms it. It was suman sa lihiya. The other variant has distinct coconut taste.

It was unique. A rectangular shape. It was normally round and elongated. Like the shape of hotdog and sausage. Divided to sections before pricking with fork and eating. Or, hold on one end and peel off like ripe banana. Making it square was a drastic move. People might not recognize what it is. The seller has extra tasks. Good if he is aggressive. He is going to do the explaining and offer taste testing. If not, the day might end up without any sale.

The incident happened to us when I decided to change the tabliya shape. For easier and faster molding, I shifted from pulvoron mold to polycarbonate. It really made the job easier but selling it was the opposite. People wanted the tablet shaped product and not the bar looking chocolate.

It is not bad to go against the common as long as you are prepared to handle the consequences.

There might be a place where they make square suman. Like the suman Antipolo which is wrapped with coconut leaves. The Tupig of Pangasinan. A rather thin suman with added coconut strips. The sellers are placing them over ember before handing to costumers. I call it inihaw na suman.

P. S. It came with a not well made syrup. The choice of raw sugar was nice. However, they should have put more effort in dissolving it all.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.