Local Flavors

Is Davao del Sur the Top Producer of Cassava in the Philippines?

Davao del Sur

Ida Damo
Ida Damo | Nov 18, 2015
Is Davao del Sur the Top Producer of Cassava in the Philippines?

The Philippines perceives Davao as the Fruit Capital of the country, and rightly so, since many of our favorite fruits come from this nutrient-rich region. However, fruits aren't the only food source known to come from Davao; if Luzon is the center of rice production in the Philippines, then the third most consumed staple food would have to come elsewhere, and majority of it comes from Davao.

Cassava (Manihot esculenta) is a tuber that is starch-rich and supplies the carbohydrates in your diet to give you energy.  In some areas in the Philippines, it replaces rice as a staple food when rice is not readily available in the area. Aside from being a valuable root crop, cassava can be used as fertilizer and animal feed. In fact, the Philippines produced 2,223.1 metric tons of cassava in 2012 making it into one of the major crops of the country.

Cassava also happens to be one of Davao del Sur’s major agricultural crops, making it a very popular food choice for many Davaoeños.

Davaoeños from both Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur love cassava so much that they have countless recipes for their favorite root crop. One recipe calls for grated cassava and are turned into crisps (kabkab, or Saritsit in Digos City) which are paper thin discs the size of paper plates. Originating in Leyte, it traveled around the nearby regions, adopting different names, different preparations, and even different toppings. But the fundamentals of the recipe stay the same: it has to be made of shredded cassava, and it has to have drizzles of caramel sauce, making the otherwise bland crisps, sweet. You see this snack outside churches on Sundays or peddled on the streets.

How is cassava turned into saritsit? Simply follow these steps:

  1. Cassava pulp is finely grated then blended with a little salt and sugar.
  2. The mixture is spread thinly on banana leaves the shape of paper plates and steamed until it becomes transparent.
  3. When it is already transparent, take it out of the steamer and air dry or sun dry until it is stiff.
  4. The stiff and dry discs are then deep fried in cooking oil, until crispy.
  5. Spread on sheets of banana leaves then drizzle with sweet latik (coconut milk and sugar caramel)

Next time you’re in Digos City, why not try this delicious snack? Call it what you will, basta, masarap pa rin!

Davao del Sur is the home of the Bagobo-Tagabawa tribe and X-Factor Philippines grand winner KZ Tandingan.

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