Canarium Ovatum or the Pili tree, as we know it in the Philippines, has some similarities with the coconut tree. They are both resilient against strong winds and they bear fruits that can be used for different purposes. Nothing gets wasted or thrown away in coconuts. We drink the juice, eat the meat, drain their oil, and use their husks as cleaning implements among other things. Likewise, there is also little to waste when it comes to the Pili fruit. The Pili pulp can be eaten or used as an ingredient for food recipes. The pulp covers a hard casing or shell that holds the pili nut. After extracting the pili, the shells are kept and used for gardening as a growth medium for orchids.
We may be familiar with the pili nuts that are sold in native sweets and delicacy shops or groceries, but little is known about its pulp. When we were children, my grandfather will bring us a whole basket of pili fruits along with other pili delicacies. We would cook the fruits by soaking them in warm water for a few minutes and eat the pulp for lunch or dinner. The pulp’s texture is similar to that of a sweet potato and it has a light nutty flavor. It is best eaten with dips or seasoning like fish sauce, soy sauce with vinegar or sugar and salt. In my case I prefer to dip it in fish sauce.
With the pulp gone, we would gather the shells and let them dry under the sun or let it air dry. The shells are cracked open using a small hammer, but I suppose they already have modern implements for cracking the shell open by now. The nuts will be extracted and stripped of their soft brown skins before being cooked in brown sugar to come up with pili nut candies. Other sweet creations made from this nut include Mazapan de Pili, Buding, Molido, and Pili Brittle. The nuts may also be eaten raw, roasted or salted.