Thursday, December 06, 2007

Toge/Togue

This rootcrop, which sprouts only during the last quarter of the year, is the only toge (accent on the last syllable) known in Pangasinan, or at least in my part of the province. We don't have, and consequently we don't eat, the togue (with the accent on the first syllable) known elsewhere in the country, which is mung bean sprouts. We do have monggo sprouts, but they are naked (skinless, therefore white in color) mung beans with just a little hint of a tail that is white opaque just like the beans, not transparent like that of the togue.

Needless to say, I only came to know of togue when I came to live in Metro Manila to study in college. Toge, for me, will always pertain to this rootcrop, which is probably related to the gabi/galyang species. They have the same texture and flesh color and consistency, though toge is a bit more porous. Stickily chewy (makulnet, maligat) when cooked, the taste is more or less the same.

Unlike the gabi and galyang, though, which sprout as bulbs, toge is cylindrical. The skin is brown, more like the skin of cassava, but paper thin and fairly easy to peel.

There are only two ways I know of cooking, and eating, toge. The first, and the most common - the easier one, too - is just plain boiling it, skin on after washing off the soil thoroughly under running water, in a pan of water for 10-15 minutes. When the toge has cooled enough to be handled, half of it is manually peeled and dipped in sugar and eaten as it is, peeling as you eat.

[Inlubi with Toge]

Toge is also mixed in with inlubi, a Pangasinan rice delicacy available only during the post-harvest season. It is actually associated with Pista'y Inatey (Undas, All Saints' Day/All Souls' Day).

Inlubi is commonly cooked like bibingka or biko, with the distinguishing black color, because the main ingredient is deremen, which is pinipig that is burnt in its husk. (Recipe can be found here)

But there are several other variants, one of which is the one with toge, which is moister with the consistency of rice pudding, or a very thick ginataan. The ingredients are the same, with the addition of small cubes of toge and more than double the amount of gata.

I like inlubi with toge more than the bibingka/biko variant. It is more texturally appealing, the toge providing chewy crunchiness to the rice pudding and the coconut slivers. And because a large amount of kakang gata is used, it tastes so creamy. As with any rice variety, deremen pairs perfectly with gata. In inlubi with toge, the tastes of deremen and gata are on the same level, unlike the bibingkang inlubi where the deremen flavor is allowed to shine through more. Of course, the taste and aroma of deremen is incomparable, found nowhere else. With gata, it turns into comfort food.

The downside to inlubi with toge, though, is the fact that it cannot be kept long. Partly because of the toge, and partly because of the large quantity of gata involved, inlubi with toge spoils easily. It has to be eaten right away after it has cooled from cooking, the remainder put in the refrigerator at once. Even then, it cannot be guaranteed if it would still be edible the next morning.

Nothing is gained, anyhow, with keeping inlubi with toge. Just like any dish with gata, the taste does not improve with time, and it is best eaten newly cooked. Inlubi with toge is good if allowed to cool after the cooking process, though. So just enough should be prepared so nothing would be left over.

Inlubi and toge together in a sweet dish is the perfect Pangasinan food for the season. The two main ingredients are only available now, one cultivated but not mass produced, the other allowed to grow and sprout in its own sweet time. And it is cooked with gata, which, like most kakanin around the country, distinguishes Pangasinan sweet dishes made with rice.

9 comments:

ut-man said...

I realy miss the Ilocano sweet guinataan with toge.I can't find toge in Metro Manila...

Kai said...

Yes, Ut-man, I don't even know if toge is known elsewhere outside the Ilocos region. I can't find indications of any other name, or even what species it belongs to...I was just guessing that it is related to gabi since they are almost the same.

Anonymous said...

Toge.. is it still abundant in Pangasinan ? I still remember those as filling snack when I was a kid. Last time I was there I could no longer find those root crops I used to eat ...
aroro, kalot(preparation was intesive that you need to soak in water for a week), and lima-lima.
Kalot is the best of all especially when cooked with gata and young coconut strips.

Talagan pangasinan ka sirin ..

Bert
NJ

MikeMina said...

i miss toge! as kids we used to eat it just boiled and dipped in sugar . . . :-) meron ka ba extra dyan, kai? hehehe . . .

Marilou said...

I have almost forgotten this food. We used to eat them plain boiled and dipped in sugar. I used to think it was boring food because we used to have it all the time. What I would give to have some now!

Anonymous said...

just bolied it and dip it in sugar.

Kai said...

Bert, it is still is, though only during this season. At Php15/kilo, it's the cheapest snack you can have. And yes, very filling and healthy, too!

A friend from Bicol tells me it's available in Daet year-round, though.

MangMike! Dalhan kita pag-uwi namin for the holidays.

Marilou, it really was boring food. But time and distance give us new perspectives about food, huh.

Boiling it and sugar dipping is really the most common way to eat toge!

Yo said...

i remember eating toge when i was a boy. (yes, we call it by the same name in laguna.) my mother served it far between compared to kamote, saba or balinghoy. i didn't notice when. we just ate them for afternoon snacks, boiled, peeled and dunked into brown sugar and grated coconuts. seasonal, you said? now, that explains it. it's been a long time since i had my last toge!

toge said...

toge? toket gede?