Explaining The Tagalog Term “Sangkutsa”

The simplest explanation is really simple. The tagalog term sangkutsa simply means “pre-cooking”. Half-cooking is also acceptable.

Sangkutsa is done by adding one to several flavorings to the main ingredients. It can be water only, or water plus salt, fish sauce, onions, garlic and soy sauce. The last step is boiling the mix until half done. The boiling time varies depending on commodity.

There are three reasons why do sangkutsa or isangkutsa. The first one is to remove unwanted food components or a possible toxin and unwanted flavor. The not so popular example is the “kabuting saging”. It is a mushroom that grows only on decaying banana corms. According to my elders, its flavor is undesirable when not pre-cooked.

The next reason is to soften the main ingredient before the flavorings are added. The technique is usually applied to native chicken hen. Pre-cooking such is a long process but pressure cooker shortens the time significantly. Cooking a broiler chicken instead removes the need for pre-cooking procedures.

The last reason is extension of products shelf life for few hours to a day. A dressed chicken bought in the morning might be spoiled already by afternoon but not when pre-cooked. Full cooking it in the afternoon further extend the storage life by the next morning. The affordability of refrigerators voids the need for this method.

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.

5 Replies to “Explaining The Tagalog Term “Sangkutsa””

  1. Sankutsa or sangkutcha is not only a Tagalog term. It is also a term used in other parts of the Philippines (like in Bicol). Easily in Culinary Arts term it is “braising” (from the French word ‘braise’ [braze] ).

    There are 2 kinds of braising an ingredient: (1) flash frying using hot oil or (2) charring (char), searing and blackening it under direct heat (grill, etc..)

  2. To add to my comment above, sangkutsa/sangkutcha (braising) is a 2-step process: after flash frying OR charring/searing the ingredient, it is then placed in a pot or pan and added with a liquid ingredient (water or broth) and covered to FINISH cooking in the oven. It is NOT called sangkutsa/sangkutcha (braising) if the 2nd process is not followed. Thanks.

    1. I know that this has been an old comment but braising technique is totally different from sangkutsa. Sangkutsa came from the Spanish word salcochar which means to boil in salt and water. Sangkutsa in English is to parcook, meaning to cook slightly.

      Braising, on the other hand, is a method where you brown (or sautee, in some cases) your meat and then simmer it in some liquid, meaning your meat is not covered entirely in liquid. In this method, the cuts of meat are also relatively larger than stews.

      When you cook something and covering it entirely in liquid, that is called stewing. And to reiterate, you stew with smaller cuts of meat.

      So, to summarize, Marvin’s description is more accurate and it is backed up by the Spanish influence in our culture as well, and the way we cook in our homes.

      This comment is merely to clarify and not confuse the readers with cooking methods. I hope this helps

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