Ampao (pronounced as AM-PAW) is a rice ball puff lightly coated with sugar syrup. A favorite snack ampao has several varieties and in the Visayas, Central Philippines, ampao is made of rice that are crispier but less light or puffy than those found in Luzon island.
Ampao is also shaped or formed in various ways; flat and rectangular, round, squares, thin slabs and the more common ball-shaped rice puffs. Ball-shaped ampao also comes in various colours, obviously as come-on to kids. From green, red, rose pink, yellow to blue, these colored rice puffs are often sold in small sari-sari stores (Mom & Pop stores).
Carcar in Cebu is known to produce the best rice puffs or crispies in the Visayas. Carcar’s ampao makers used cooked rice that are sun-dried to make it crispier. Rectangular in shape, Carcar ampao has peanuts embedded in the rice puff as an added treat.
Long live Pinoy-made snacks!
Butong pakwan or watermelon seeds may not be exclusively Pinoy, but these seeds, which are salted and dried, are definitely snack favorites in the islands.
Ask any traveler in the Philippines, a bag of watermelon seeds can be found in any bus terminal, sari-sari store (Pop & Mom store), supermarket or right from the sidewalks vendors in Metro Manila or any city in the islands- from Luzon to Mindanao, west to east, north and south. And for some reason these ‘seedy’ snack has remained popular among Filipinos through the years and has survived sweet and sticky imports like doughnuts, chocolates and even Italian coffee.
It only take some patience to crack the seeds between your front teeth. And patience the Filipino has for sure!
Long live butong pakwan!
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!
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!