by Haydee Vicedo
Suka (pronounced soo-ka) may sound like a figure skating move Michelle Kwan’s about to attempt successfully – “and Kwan landed that triple suka beautifully…”; but it actually means Filipino vinegar. Yes, Michelle landed those triple salchows like nobody’s business, but she was definitely not aiming for vinegar. Suka, along with patis (fish sauce), toyo (soy sauce) and bagoong (fermented fish/shrimp), is one of the main staples of the Filipino pantry. If you’re making Filipino food, you have suka somewhere in your kitchen. And if you have suka in the kitchen, you probably have at least one or two of the many varieties out there. Some are named after their place of birth – Sukang Iloko is from a region in the Philippines called, you guessed it, Ilocos, a la New York cheesecake. Others, meanwhile, get their moniker from the plant/tree they originate from. Sukang Tuba, for instance, comes from coconut sap, while sukang nipa (also known as sukang paombong) derives from the nipa palm. The latter is probably the vinegar most widely used in Filipino cuisine. And because you asked so politely (you didn’t know it but you did), we’re going to name just a few of the many delectable dishes in which suka’s presence reigns supreme.