Long before McDonalds´ invasion of the Philippines, kamote-que onced ruled the street food scene in the country.
Kamote-que are sliced sweet potatoes which are deep fried and coated with caramelized brown sugar. Served in barbeque sticks, which gives this potato snack the name, kamote-que were once popular and were found in every street corner served directly from the frying pan and piping hot!
Today, with the popularity of French fries from fast-food chains, kamote-que has been pushed to the sidelines and is seldom seen on the street compared to bygone years.
But for real Pinoy street food afficionados nothing beats kamote-que serve on banana leaves, which gives an extra fragrant banana scent to the hot caramelized potato chunks.
Mabuhay ang kamote-que!
Turrones de mani is a nougat confection, typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, coated in crushed, toasted peanuts, and usually shaped into either a rectangular tablet or a round cake. This candy is evidently derived or is a variety of the Spanish turrón.
In the Philippines, turrones de mani is sold or prepared mostly as a traditional dessert for Christmas. But nowadays it can also be bought all-year long in retail stores, specialised gourmet or souvenir shops. The Philippine nougat is usually prepared with peanuts, pili nut or cashews (turrones de casuy). Shaped like rectangular sticks and wrapped in very thin white wafers, the crusty wafer envelopes or sandwiches the nutty filling. Great as an accompaniment for tea and coffee. (Source: Excerpted from WikiPilipinas).
Ube halaya or purple yam is a favorite yam dessert eaten on its own or used as an ingredient for various desserts, as topping or as pastry filling (hopia).
This dessert is made from boiled purple that is grated, shredded, or mashed and combined with a can of condensed milk, vanilla extract and butter in a pan, and cooked in medium fire. Thoroughly mixed together, ube halaya has the consistency of a ‘jam’ and serves as a fine accompaniment to many desserts such as halo-halo (as topping), added to ice desserts or a variety of rice cakes.
Suman wrapped in banana leaves (right) with a cup of latik, a dipping sauce of melted cane sugar
Suman is a generic name for the Filipino snack or dessert made of sticky rice wrapped in banana or coconut leaves. There are several varieties of suman depending on the province or region which may add or leave out some ingredients in the classic suman recipe.
A basic recipe for suman usually uses glutinous rice boiled in coconut milk and mixed with cane or brown sugar. In the Visayas region, bits of crushed ginger are used to add a spicy accent to the sweetness. In Luzon some broken bits of nuts are mixed with the rice to add a nutty flavour. In some regions, varieties of red, black or purple rice are also usedor mixed with the sticky rice and then boiled with the same coconut milk for flavour.
What to serve with the suman also differs depending on regional tastes and habits, with Visayans often serving it with freshly made hot chocolate drink or slices of ripe mangoes.
They also dipped the suman into simmering cups of thick chocolate for a more zesty and filling dessert. Melted cane sugar mixed with coconut milk called ‘latik’ is also a popular dipping sauce.
Another variety of suman is suman sa ibus, basically the same sticky rice but intricately wrapped in buri palm leaves and cooked in coconut milk. Suman sa ibus is served with a platter of sugar for dipping. Roasted, grated coconut is also often used as garnish or topping for freshly cooked suman.
Buko pie (young coconut pie) is a traditional Filipino pastry which uses young coconut meat (the so-called malauhog buko) as a pie filling.
Instead of cream the pie uses sweetened condensed milk. There are several variants of the pie, such as the macapuno pie which uses another special type of young coconut. Originally, buko pie was a delicacy only available in the Philippines, but blast freezing technology has allowed buko pie-makers the ability to export (from Wikipedia).
Laguna is well-known for the best buko pie makers and discerning Filipino fans travel all the way to Los Banos in Laguna to buy the freshest and best buko pies in town. Entering Los Banos town from Calamba City, there are numerous buko pie vendors. But the best and so-called original, family-owned bakeries are Lety’s and Collete’s.
A favorite Pinoy snack, banana turon (banana wrapped in rice rolls) is a popular street food and is a variant of the banana-que.
The sliced saba (plantain) bananas are fried, rolled with strips of langka (jackfruit) in the lumpia wrapper (rice wrappers) and fried to a golden crispness. Caramelized brown sugar is also melted in the last few minutes of frying to coat the banana turon and add a sugary sweetness.
The crispy rolls combined with the sweetness of the banana and jackfruit make this snack a classic dessert in the Filipino kitchen table.
Sundot kulangot (literally “poke the snot”) is a bizarre but funny name for a simple Philippine candy that is packaged in small, nutty shells. Patience is needed to coax the enjoyment out of this rather esoteric candy.
The taste and texture of sundot kulangot is similar to the more popular matamis na bao or coconut jam. Sticky and sweet (like the coco jam), the rather absurd name ‘sundot kulangot’ obviously refers to the tedious way one has to open and eat (or sample) this candy. Sample or sampling since the nutty shell only contains a teeny-weeny bit or less than a thumb size portion of the coco-jammy substance. One has to literally poke the sticky stuff out of the unusual packaging, similar to poking one’s nose for … you-know-what!
Sundot kulangot is becoming a rarity among Philippine candies but can still be found in traditional public markets particularly in northern Luzon such as in Baguio city where heaps of sundot kulangot are piled waist high among the bananas, mangoes and other garden produce.
Mabuhay ang sundot kulangot!
A rice dessert and delicacy, puto bungbong is a variety of glutinous rice cakes traditionally eaten during the Christmas season.
Dyed in purple and cooked or steamed with coconut milk, puto bungbong is prepared in big aluminium pans, where it is steamed inside a bamboo or funnel-like contraption. The rice cake is served in fresh banana leaves and topped with grated coconut. It is best eaten when still warm or freshly cooked.
During the week of late-night Church mass (Simbang Gabi) preceding Christmas Day, puto bungbong vendors flocked to church yards or nearby public squares to sell this native snack to devout churchgoers and passersby. This rice cake is closely associated with cozy Christmas nights when the evening air turns chilly and people have the appetite to go for a midnight snack right after going to church.
Puto bungbong is also accompanied with a hot drink of steaming, thick chocolate (called tsokolate puro or pure chocolate), a remnant of Spanish eating traditions.
Mabuhay ang puto bungbong!
Combi rice cakes: puto (left) and kutsinta
Puto at kutsinta (steamed rice cakes) are snack favorites in the Philippines, and are actually two different kinds of rice cakes. Puto is a generic rice cake using finely milled rice flour, mixed with coconut milk and gently steamed on Chinese-styled bamboo bowls.
Puto is artificially colored (optional) except for the light green ones which are flavored with pandan extract. The cakes are also topped with a small chunk or slice of cheese for accent.
Kutsinta (or cuchinta) is cooked with small amounts of lye-colored water and is lightly sweet and neutral in taste. These two rice cakes are often served or sold together as they complement and make a hearty snack. Topped with grated coconut and served on fresh banana leaves, nothing beats puto’t kutsinta for a real taste of native or traditional Pinoy snacks.
Mabuhay ang puto’t kutsinta!
The Filipino’s pulburon is derived from the Spanish polvorón. This powdered dessert (polvo is Spanish for powder) has several variants in the Philippines including pulburon mixed with pinipig (beaten young green rice), casuy (cashew) and even cookies-and-cream polvorón.
A Wikipedia entry says that the Spanish polvorón is a type of Andalucian shortbread of Levantine origin. These shortbread are popular in Spain and Latin America. A pulburon’s basic recipe includes flour, sugar, milk and nuts. The Andalucian region in Spain is renowned for polvorón where they are called mantecados. The Philippine pulburon, however, is sweeter compared to the mantecados which taste more like unsweetened cookies.
In the Philippines pulburon are often wrapped in brightly colored paper and are also used as décor on festive tables during Christmas, birthdays, wedding or baptismal feasts. A well-known brand is the Goldilocks pulburon sold in almost major airports in the Philippines as popular pasalubongs or homecoming gifts.
Mabuhay ang pulburon!