Nata de Coco
Nata de coco is a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food product produced by the fermentation of coconut water, which gels through the production of microbial cellulose by Acetobacter xylinus. Nata de coco is most commonly sweetened as a candy or dessert, and can accompany many or garnish many food and drinks such as iced drinks, ice cream, puddings, fruit mixes, and the popular halo-halo.
An original product of the Philippines, the name nata de coco comes from Spanish “cream of coconut.” Cream in this sense means the fat from the coconut milk. Nata de coco is know for its high dietary fiber and is low in fat and cholesterol content. Strips of nata de coco are used in mass-produced bubble tea drinks as a healthier alternative to tapioca.
The production of nata de coco involves the extraction of coconut water, fermentation of the coconut water with bacterial cultures, and separating and cutting the produced mat of nata de coco. The strips are cut in bite-sized dice shapes and are cleaned of the acetic acid remnants. Commercial nata de coco is made by small farms in the Philippines. (Source: Wikipedia)
Mabuhay ang pagkaing Pinoy!
Kaong ( Arenga pinnata) or sugar palm is the fruit of a tropical palm that grows in Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia and India.
In the Philippines the kaong is a popular fruit salad ingredient and is also used as garnish in various iced desserts. Sweetened and preserved in bottled jars, kaong is glutinous or chewy in texture and has a nutty taste. There are also artificially colored kaong varieties which are popularly used in halo-halo or used as toppings for ice cream and sherbet-based desserts.
Halo-halo ( ‘mix-mix’ ) is a popular Philippine dessert consisting mainly of finely-shaved ice and a delightful concoction of preserved sweets such as young shredded coconut, beans, boiled banana chunks, macapuno, sago, gelatin and topped with crispy popped rice and a glob of ice cream, among other yummy tidbits.
There are several versions on how this dessert came about in the Pinoy kitchen table, but some would say that it could have been originally a Japanese-styled ice dessert made popular during the 1940s.
In any case, a visit to the Philippines, where the sun’s heat demands refreshments like the halo-halo, is not complete without trying out this ice-based dessert which is available or served by the lowly streetfood vendor, fastfood chains to chic hotel restaurants. One could even ‘assemble’ one’s version of a halo-halo in restaurant buffets where the sweet tidbits are individually presented. Providing proof of the Filipino sweet tooth, some may dislike the combination of ice and sweetness.
But locals and Filipino expatriates swear to the halo-halo experience which, like the jeepney and other Philippine icons, reflects the Filipino’s talent to fuse, improvise, adapt or even improve on other people’s food and flavors.
Mabuhay ang Pinoy!