Sampaguita: What You Can Cook with the Philippine National Flower
“I’ll never look at Sampaguita the same way again,” says Socrates Alvaro, Cluster General Manager of Food and Beverage for Megaworld Hotels and Resorts (MHR). When asked why, he answers with a smile “I’d rather eat it – mainly because we’ve discovered that the sampaguita is a versatile flower with many applications in food and beverage”. True enough, the country’s largest homegrown hospitality management chain (MHR) heats up its kitchens and gives the Philippines’ national flower a date with your tastebuds.
“There’s more to the local Jasminum sambac, a variety of Sampaguita that grows in the Philippines. Our goal is to get the conversation going and educate guests about its iconic aroma that adds a new layer of flavor to one’s local dining experience,” shares Alvaro, with over 30 years of experience in the industry.
The hotel group now offers its guests their Sampaguita Menu, made available daily across their 12 properties located in Boracay, Cebu, Iloilo, the National Capital Region, and Tagaytay. The line-up features heirloom dishes all infused and garnished with food-grade Sampaguita extract and blooms. The entire selection includes options for appetizers, salad, soup, mains, desserts, and baked goods. While lounging at the bar, guests may even try out cocktail creations with notes of the Sampaguita.
When asked how they do it, Ariel Castaneda, Executive Chef of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, shares, “we’ve tried the brining and pickling process, in which we infuse salt to the fresh flower and extract the full flavor”. Considering other options, they’ve also tried dehydration “We dry out fresh flowers, petals and leaves and steep them into our mixture to give body to the dish”. Over time, they’ve gotten more success doing the smoking process. What they do is “Use fresh and dried Sampaguita petals, to smoke meats, fish, and sauces to enhance the aroma of the dish.”
“We get all sorts of reactions from guests,” says the young and promising chef who conducts exclusive monthly dining events. He shares “guests would try different sampaguita dishes and would normally be amazed of the different flavor profiles it gives when mixed with other ingredients”.
In more ways than…