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Wow, you guys never fail to amaze me with your unique posts. you just can't find this information in books!


Technically, sukang Paombong refers only to the nipa palm vinegar produced in the town of Paombong, Bulacan and should not be used for vinegar produced around Butuan City.

The substantive is "suka". This is the name of the product: "suka". The -ng ending of suka in sukang Paombong indicates that the word has been modified by another word/adjective: suka from the town of Paombong.

(Maybe I should write sukang paombong. The current convention seems to put even place-name-modifiers in lower case, cf Saveur's teltow turnips-turnips from Teltow-in the last December issue. Or maybe this is a Saveur quirk.)

Re: nata de coco

You are thinking of something else, not "nata de coco". For nata de coco, see the long magisterial article on it in Culinaria: Southeast Asian Specialties. You are thinking perhaps of "kaong" which is sometimes labelled as "toddy palm seeds", "sugar palm" etc but as far as I know kaong is made from Arenga pinnata not from nipa.

Great report! great pics!



I just looked up the Culinaria pages on nata de coco: oops. It's not quite as long as I remembered it-but it's still pretty comprehensive. Nata de coco is coconut/sugar water that has been gelatinized with the help of acidophilus bacteria. The gelatin occurs spontaneously to a limited extent in the making of vinegar; it was in the Philippines that the entire long process (of fermentation/gelatinization, repeated pressings, pasteurization etc) was formalized and product first made on a (relatively) large scale.

Here's some more stuff on it from the web:

and a derivative commercial product reported by noodlepie:

Sukang Paombong is readily available in US Asian groceries. It's a superb, quite unique artisanal vinegar and excellent value at about $1.25 a 750 ml bottle (use it to make kinilaw!) Bec vinegar is quite stable, this product is quite pure and unadulterated (I think the processing merely involves coarse filtration).

Robyn, have you posted on the process of making the fantastic nipa palm sugar (from Melaka wasn't it?) that you brought for the tasting at your palm sugar lecture in Chicago last year (I think I still have some left in my pantry)? If not, this might be the time to do a companion post to this on it!!! It would be most intriguing specially in light of the tidbits on nipa palm sugar making that you dropped above (e.g. "sugar-makers use various means to hinder fermentation" etc)


marcos calo medina

hi robyn,

nice post on the vinegar! i've already sent the address to my relatives in butuan. by the way, leo the kinilaw master was thrilled when he saw your post. he had the pages printed and said he'd have them laminated for his stall in the butuan market.

your knowledge of southeast asian vinegars i think would be an excellent, full-blown magazine article (gastronomica?), or even a book. vinegar is such a defining ingredient, especially in mindanao.

i'm glad you mentioned the process from bahal (or bahalina, depends on whom you're asking in butuan) to laksoy (which the airlines still ask me to unload everytime i go home).

i'd be interested to know how nipa and coconut vinegar in agusan and surigao compares with other southeast asian traditions. specifically, the various ingredients used to induce and arrest fermentation.

you remember the powdery stuff that man in an orange t-shirt was carrying on his belt? that's "tungog," a mangrove-like tree which the visayans use to slow the fermentation process, so that the sap doesn't turn acidic so fast (i don't know what tungog is in english...calling richard, paki-research nga). in between, of course, you have the bahal.

sorry i forgot to tell you that paombong is a town in bulacan, and only the vinegar from there is called sukang paombong. kinda like ..you know... appellation controllee..

or whatever.



Thanks luckyfatluke. We really enjoy doing these kind of posts

Richard - noted and changes made. (I need to study some Tagalog.)Note that I wrote nata de coco-LIKE. Yes, aren palm seeds are made into the same sort of treat.But the texture is kinda the same.
As for palm sugar - those posts will have to wait. As I think you know we have other plans for the results of that research....
I am so jealous that you can buy sukang paombang in Chicago.

Marc - that's nice about Leo. It was the least we could do after he made that he fed us that spectacular kinilaw on the spot in Butuan City. Could go for a big plate of it RIGHT NOW!
Coconut palm sugar makers in Malaysia use the bark of the cengkal tree to arrest fermentation. Lots of interesting little tricks of the trade in palm sugar production, from arresting fermentation to coloring. I'm sure it's the same in PHI vinegar production. Merits some study...

jay p

hmmm if i remember correctly Tuba is the fermented coconut sap which is in turn distilled into lambanog.

is it really called the same thing if it comes from nipa?


jay - tuba (in the PHI) is fermented palm sap whether it comes from coconut, nipa, or other palms. From 'How to Drink in Cebuano', an essay by historian Resil Mojares (thanks RST):

"The better kind of tuba is extracted from coconut palms but other varieties are made from the nipa palm, buri palm, the ambung and pugahan palms, and the idiok (sugar palm), the fermented sap of which is called habyog."

The same word - tuba - is also used in Indonesia, by the way.

Nate 2.0


another mind-expanding post! How I would love to have a bottle of that pepper-and-garlic-flavored suka.

Nik Go

Great post! Very informative.

Tangal or Tungog is ground bark of a mangrove specie (ceriops tagal of the Rhizophoraceae family)

I'm very curious about how others "employ a variety of means to hinder fermentation." I've once read from some local literature (DOST??) that chilies are used by some nipa vinegar makers instead of tangal or tungog.

If you're a wine maker, you might be familiar with Campden tablets (potassium metabisulphite) which does the same job. Can't seem to find any local source, though.

If anyone knows anything more, please post.



Hi Robyn
Do you know much about making vinegar from sweet sorghum?


this is very interesting. I've been to Butuan just last week for this purpose and it's interesting someone had written something about it already.

aña sy

tungog comes from not a mangrove-like tree, it's really from mangroves. and it's mangrove tanbark powder in english. just wondering if anyone here knows the process of making tungog?


gosh - amazing article.
heck how about sending some of this stuff over to me ::))
im from Austria / Europe and love Asian food.
fortunately im at least once a year in the phlippines to have some kinilaw and other fantastic food.

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