Nipa Sukang (which means vinegar) is a vinegar which is produced through the fermentation of Arenga pinnata palm sap. The process to obtain it is very long: first, the flower stalks of the palm are shaken during at least a week, in order to stimulate sap production, after which they are cut and the sap is collected inside a bamboo container. Every day it has to be transferred to terracotta amphorae, which are then closed, but not hermetically. Inside these amphorae, the fermentation, which takes between two and three weeks, happens without the addition of a starter.
The product is then ready to be consumed or sold. Often, if it is destined for sale, the vinegar is transferred from the terracotta amphorae to plastic or glass bottles.
In the past, the palm sap was also fermented to produce a type of distilled alcoholic beverage, but this has almost completely disappeared.
Vinegar is a very important ingredient in Philippine cuisine. Nowadays, however, the traditional varieties of vinegar are disappearing and being replaced by industrial types.
Sukang Nipa is used to fry fish in the preparation of the dish “Daing” (or Tuyo), or as a condiment in Philippine dishes like “paksiw na isda”, another fish-based dish, “lechon paksiw”, which is meat-based, and many salads.
It is also an ingredient in Achara, a vegetable and papaya pickle.