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20 January 2011

Love Kakanin!

We are currently on vacation here in the Philippines, and although it has only been two years since we left, I have definitely missed our beloved Kakanin! Bibingka, puto, kutsinta, suman, collectively called Kakanin, these foodie delights remind me of happy times. Rice cakes in one form or another always make an appearance on the fiesta or birthday table. It is also a very popular pasalubong fare after Sunday mass. Sweet and attractively packaged, our kakanin is always a welcome sight. Our kakanin often contains such major ingredients as coconut milk, brown sugar, and glutinous rice, root crop, or other local produce.

I have made it a point to buy some whenever I spot these in our travels, and I would like to share with you my kakanin adventure so far.



Bico - made from glutinous rice, coconut milk and usually with a sweet topping, this rice cake is very satisfying.


Cassava cake - the primary ingredient is the root crop cassava, it is soft and has a unique taste, making it a very popular dessert item.

Nilubian - I bought this from La Union. It's primarily made with mashed sweet potatoes, then the finished product is drizzled with ground peanuts. I know this with another name: Nilupak. And my first bite confirmed this. Whenever I have Nilubian / Nilupak, I remember when I was very young and I visited my grandparents in Marinduque. My lolo placed some cooked camote in the huge mortar and pestle and began to pound this into pulp. After a while he handed portions to me and my siblings. Yum.

Patupat - this one I first encountered in Dagupan so many years ago, and it remains a favourite. I have always been amazed at how they managed to envelope the sticky rice inside the woven bag. I used to meticulously unwind the weaving to get to the sweet stuff inside, but I recently learned that the shortest (and recommended) way is to cut right through the middle. Not as exciting, but less messy.

Pichi-Pichi - also made with grated cassava and covered with grated coconut meat, pichi-pichi is a very popular birthday lunch item (next to pancit) back when I worked in Makati because an enterprising restaurant prepared the most wonderful pichi-pichi and all we had to do was order a huge batch.

Puto - these bite-sized pieces made from glutinous rice flour is addictively soft and sweet. You won't notice that you've had your fill until the bowl is empty! This is also the perfect companion to dinuguan.

Puto Calasiao - my wife told me this is what this bigger version of the puto is called. It tastes just the same as its smaller cousin, but with the addition of these rich-tasting seeds whose name escapes me right now… help please?

Puto Pao - Love this... puto with salted egg on top!

Suman - the basic rice cake. glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves. My Nanay makes the most wonderful suman and coconut jam to go with it during Christmas holidays!

Suman Balatinao - this one's made with a rice variety called Balatinao. I personally think it is denser and more flavorful than the white suman, so I no longer added coconut jam with it.

Suman - Kamoteng Kahoy - I also love this suman! Kamoteng Kahoy is actually Cassava. Quite a versatile root crop, isn't it!

I still have a few others to go... I've had bibingka, now to look for sapin-sapin, tupig, kutsinta... I wonder if there's still puto bumbong in January?

(this blog post also appears in the Definitely Filipino blog)

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