Dokto, Sebbeng, tan Kehdoi
“THE SWEET POTATO, the ‘native’ vinegar, and the kehdoi”, roughly-translates our topic or title today. The Kehdoi is the dokto itself – mashed but sans (additional) water nor sugar added.
THESE CONSTITUTED THE basic staples of the earliest-told Ibalois – both of the two phatries: the Ehnontog or ‘Mountain-side’ Ibalois and the Ikulos or ‘Riverbank’ Ibalois.
[IN THE SONGS and narrations of these, are also mentioned the Taro – or gabi, the violet Ubi, and the wild Tugi, their second or alternate staples, known or favoured too – by their neighbour-groups: the Kalanguyas, the Southern Kankana-eys, the Ikaraos, and the Iowaks.
[IN THEIR PESHIT or Pedit (Prestige feasts) of these times, you will observe usually six staples: the dokto, the (red) rice, the kehdoi, the taro, the ubi, and the wild tugi – displayed on the center, receiving table, but
[IN NON-PRESTIGE OCCASIONS – such as birthdays, thanksgiving parties, houseblessings (D’yaos), etc., you may see but three or four of these, plus the (now) most important: r.i.c.e – white Kaljara rice or the traditional kintoman red rice – plus other modern drinks and foodstuffs like: whiskey, spaghetti, salad macaroni; even infinitea.
BUT IN EARLIEST, olden times, there were only those three – the Dokto, the Sebbeng, and the Kehdoi – ready on the Dulang (like a rectangular table, but with shorter legs) for having.. in a poor man’s dwelling; and then, they say: at later times, idi ebabajag, came the r.i.c.e – in three varieties: the kintoman (red) rice, the violet (balatinaw) rice, and the sticky bongkitan or shiket rice.
DEPENDING ON THE sub-group or individual family, the Dokto – which has been traditionally there, was substituted with either kintoman or taro; the Sebbeng with just plain cayenne (Sili) – whether the ordinary one or the wild Amki.
THE KEHDOI BECAME a ‘luxury’ – since you can not make Kehdoi with gabi/taro or rice; Kehdoi is versionified only from Dokto. So.. ergo and usual, if you take the case of the Balodaki (married or unmarried young man), while
HE MAY GO hunting with just Dokto, or taro or rice – plus some roasted side dish of dried or smoked meat, Pinchang, for his lunch in the mountains and be happy with these venture ‘provisions’, he will always long for – and come back home, for Kehdoi,, or, if not, for – coffee and Eneppoi, i.e. in place of the now rarified kehdoi.
THE SEBBENG IS not really ‘vinegar’ as written by some writers or Philippinists. Rather, it may fall under the general descriptions of: ‘Seasoning’, ‘appetizer’, or ‘fermented’ cayenne. Its simple preparation is as follows:
COOK DOKTO, OR what is know in the Philippine English as: camote [Sc.n. Ipomeoea Batatas]. Peel the Doktos before boiling them in hot water.
WHEN THE DOKTO is already cooked, separate It from the water you boiled it with. Then
SAID WATER: LET it go cold and then pour it over a bottle (not just a container, Informants advise) filled one-third or one-fourth of cayenne, or Sili (they call it here). You may add some onion leeks and/or garlic (3-4 cloves) for ‘fragrance effect’.
LET THE BOTTLE – and those it contains, be kept on a safe place.
ON THE THIRD or fourth day, you may open to taste said Sebbeng.. if it can correspond or ‘approach’ your ‘desired taste-of it. if not, delay the use to the 6th day – but do not over-extend; lest some other ‘ingredients’ may spoil it. remember: most Sebbengs stay fresh and inspiring on the 4th up to its 6th day. So,
IF ONE DAY, you may try to make your own Sebbeng don’t forget the ‘rules’ our Informants have here suggested. Good Luck!
FINALLY, THE KEHDOI. How is it prepared? Peel raw some dokto pieces; then, boil some for some minutes.
WHEN COOKED, MASH the Dokto with the H2O it was boiled with. Do not add other ingredients; not even additional H2O. start tasting.. that’s your Kehdoi!
THESE THREE – THE Dokto, Sebbeng, and Kehdoi – taken as one or only in a meal – or sometimes in accompaniment with rice, dried meat, and the taro leaves or Pising, are ‘claimed’ to be secrets of those who had long and healthy lives – before you and me.
I JUST WONDER if ‘claims’ they shall forever remain, and no one may take serious care about them. Let me recount a bit:
AS A HIGHSCHOOL boy long time ago, I went with some classmates to take a close view of the old Poblacion Cemetery.
WE READ WITH real awe those crosses or tomb marks: with totaled ages of 95, 98, even more-than-a hundred.
OUR GUIDE SAID: “Folks say their most common secrets to long life told were the simple stuffs: Kintoman, root crops e.g. Dokto and Taro; some meat boiled, Tafey (rice wine), and not to forget: Sebbeng or Kehdoi!”