Our little backyard garden has some surprises in store for me now that I am well enough to plant again. The katuray or gaway-gaway stalk that I planted about ten months ago is already a small tree and with numerous white flowers!
I remember seeing the gaway-gaway trees with flowers last year at the Triumph of the Holy Cross Church. It brought memories of my mother’s katuray salad. Katuray or Corkwood Tree, usually flowers in the last quarter of the year until first quarter the following year.
The katuray stalk I planted early this year came from my mother in Iloilo. I never thought it will grow that fast and even if it’s still just a small tree, it is flowering profusely.
While the variety with white flowers is more common, there’s also a variety with the more attractive burgundy flowers. The katuray flower is also packed with vitamins and minerals. According to the Philippine Medicinal Plants website, katuray has proteins, tannins, oleanolic acid, kaempferol, cystine, isolucine, aspargine, phenylalanine, valine, nicotinic acid, vitamin C.
Now comes the hard part, the cooking. Not that I am a good cook but since my husband doesn’t even know katuray least of all make a salad out of it, I experimented from my memory of how my mother prepares it.
I harvested a bunch of flowers which are not yet opening. Next, removed the stamen. Boil the water for blanching and prepare an ice bath. My mother doesn’t bother with an ice bath but the ice bath will make the flowers retain its crunchiness. After blanching the katuray flowers for 1-2 minutes, remove immediately and plunge in the ice bath, drain and chill.
There’s two dressing which I’ve tried using, one with the Ilonggo sinamak and the other with guinamos (bagoong).
For the sinamak, simply mix sinamak, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, and salt and pepper to taste. How much proportion to use depends on you. How you prepare the same dressing for kamote tops salad would be a good basis. Lastly, toss the chilled katuray flowers in the dressing and serve.
For the guinamos dressing, heat vinegar in a pan with guinamos and chopped onions. No need to add salt since guinamos is already salty. Reduce for a few minutes or until the vinegar is cooked.
The katuray flower is slightly bitter and crunchy if not overcooked. I love the katuray salad with either of the two dressing but I guess the taste is something acquired. My husband said it’s not unpleasant but it tasted strange. He’s just probably afraid to tell me I suck at cooking.