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  • Writer's pictureArmand

Steak With A Healing Sauce

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Weekend is a time where I usually indulge in food, it’s when I have the heartier meal, more substantial than what I would usually have on weekdays. In years past, my usual choice would be balbacoa, which I get from a food stall inside the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman Quezon City where I’ve been staying for about four years now.

I have, however, made a recent discovery, courtesy of a friend who brought me to the JT’s Manukan branch along Kalayaan Avenue, just outside Teachers’ Village in Quezon City. Cansi Steak, which is that part called the beef shank. It is the part that includes what we know as bulalo, which has that sinfully delectable bone marrow.

I have developed a routine around this dish. First, I have the Cansi soup, which is a broth made from boiling the beef shank with spices and a few other condiments. It’s guaranteed to warm your insides, which is truly satisfying feeling, especially on cold rainy nights, which we have been getting quite a lot in the past weeks.

A sip from an ice-cold bottle of San Mig Light works to set up the palate for the main course. The cansi steak is served on sizzling plate, which is a nice touch, but also at times tends to overcook the meat. My first try of the dish, I noted that the meat was not as tender as I would have preferred. Perhaps something could be done to remedy this. I also noted that they have already poured the sauce or gravy on the meat, something that I prefer to do myself, in increments.

Now, as I was saying. First, I spread out the white rice on my plate. Then, I slice the meat on the sizzling plate into bite-size portions. Next, I take a portion of the meat and place it on top of the rice, after which I scoop a chunk of the bone marrow onto the meat. I would then scoop the whole thing – the rice at the bottom and the meat and bone marrow on top, drizzle it with the sauce, before taking in the whole mouthful.

The main difference between the cansi steak of JT’s Manukan and, say, a beef shank steak dish from a western recipe, would be the sauce or the gravy. The gravy of the JT’s Manukan cansi steak has a distinctly tangy, almost sour, taste. It’s certainly not unpleasant, just not something you would be expecting from a steak gravy. But then again, there is a slight similarity to an A1 Steak Sauce, just a tiny bit.

The tangy/sour flavor of the sauce actually comes from the Batwan or Batuan fruit, which is well known to those with Ilonggo or Negrense roots. Its scientific name is Garcinia Binucao, it is light green in color and similar in shape to a small guava, only wider, with a smoother appearance. It belongs to the family of the mangosteen fruit. It is said to have healing properties – rich in antioxidants, helps lower cholesterol levels, helps prevents diabetes, is anti-inflammatory and helps cure skin ailments.

Even if just for the health benefits of the Batwan sauce, this dish is already worth having. Though I would rather have mine with the beef shank, cooked medium well, along with the bone marrow.

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