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Thursday, July 19, 2012

One Word, 3 Meanings


Depending on the language, saba can mean any of three different things. In Italian, saba refers to reduced grape must, a by product of wine production that can be used as a sauce or a condiment. 

In Japanese, saba is the word for mackerel, one of the prized "oily" fishes in Japanese cooking. To accentuate the flavor, it's usually marinated first in vinegar. 

Ok, not really mackerel - this is boquerones (anchovies) nigiri maki from Uchi Houston, but it's a similar presentation for mackerel. 
And then, there's the fruit - saba refers to a variety of edible banana endemic to Philippines. Seldom eaten raw, it's a cooking variety. Like the plantain, it has different properties when cooked unripe or ripe. 

The saba banana. Note the stubby, squared off look. 

Stacks of saba bananas ready for market. 

Deep fried saba bananas. Subtly sweet, somewhat starchy with a lemony finish, the saba banana has a distinctive and delicious flavor of its own, and is an important staple fruit for Filipinos. 

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