Pichi-pichi (pronounced as ‘peachy-peachy’) is an irresistible dessert made of coconut and cassava (kamoteng kahoy).
Basically a soft ‘puto’ or steamed cake, pichi-pichi is made with grated cassava, mixed with sugar and pandan-flavored water. Placed in banana-leaf or plastic molds, and steamed in a bamboo steamer the cake becomes translucent when cooked. Artificial color is optional but the green of the pandan leaves is a common color and so are light yellows, greens, reds and pinks.
Pichi-pichi is said to have originated from Quezon province in southern Luzon island. Usually served in special occasions and parties like birthdays and fiestas, this is one Filipino delicacy that is undeniably yummy. The cakes are topped with grated coconut.
Taho at sago (soyabean curd and tapioca balls) is a Pinoy snack dessert probably derived from similar Chinese desserts. This soyabean treat is used to be sold by ambulant vendors in the Philippines in aluminum cans, mostly in the early morning hours to be serve for breakfast.
To Pinoys born some two decades ago, the welcome sight of ambulant vendors peddling on the streets of Manila these cans of sweetened soyabean curd can trigger nostagia for the bygone days when snacking was mainly local and “BMcDo” (Before McDonalds).
Taho at sago is sweetened with arnibal or brown sugar dissolved to syrupy sweetness. With spoonfuls of arnibal, the curd and sago are mixed and is best eaten lukewarm. Only in later years (in the late 1990s) was there a fad for semi-frozen or cold taho at sago which sounds like a horrid idea to those who are used to the original lukewarm version.
Basically a dessert treat to the great massa of Filipinos, the dessert has in recent years climbed the social ladder and are now served in mainstream restaurants and fast-food shops where Philippine street food has seen a profitable and popular revival.
If there is ice cream heaven, ube-macapuno would have its own exclusive corner in paradise corner. This quintessentially Philippine ice cream should get an Oscar in the ice desserts category simply for the divine and mouth-watering pleasures it give.
Ube is the local Philippine name for the purple yam and macapuno is a coconut variety that is sticky and has a more full nutty flavor than your average coconut. Unfortunately the macapuno coco variety is hard to come by and has become rarer in recent years due to poor coconut harvests (probably).
Ice cream fans in the Philippine know that there is a separate ube ice cream flavor and another one for macapuno. But credit the creativity of the Filipino’s sweet tooth, these two superfladelicious flavors are combined in one. The Magnolia ice cream brand used to have or carry these combined flavor (years ago) although this blogger hasn’t got the chance to perform the latest quality and factual checks.
Nevertheless, if by chance you are in the vicinity of a quality ice cream tray and extensive dessert buffet in the Philippines, and you have the opportunity of a lifetime to try this heavenly ice cream never pass (heaven’s forbid!) the chance. Missing it would simply mean a lost seat in ice cream paradise.
Mabuhay ang ube-macapuno!
Sapin-sapin (Filipino for “to layer or fold together”) is a layered glutinous rice and coconut dessert and is a popular, special treat in the Filipinos’ festive table.
Sapin-sapin’s multi-colored rings are made from layers of glutinous rice flour, ube jam (purple taro roots), grated macapuno (sticky young coconut) and other colored rice cakes.
Sweetened with coconut milk and sprinkled with roasted coco flakes, the cake is a delightful, mouth-watering dessert or snack. Having the right texture, flavour and consistency in sapin-sapin is a tedious if not exacting process even for the experienced cook since the cake is made up of several separate layers.
Pastry and specialised bake shops in Malabon City, north of Manila, are known to make the most tasty sapin-sapin. Packed or serve in bilao (handwoven bamboo trays), sapin-sapin makes a special treat or gift.
Mabuhay ang sapin-sapin!