Aside from home cooked meals, the second best thing I love about the Filipino cuisine is the street food. Growing up in the Philippines, I would always spot street vendors swarming around markets and sidewalks, sometimes even blocking road traffic.
The vendors would carry their heavy loads moving from one spot to the other depending on where the “buying” people are. The vendors would shout at the top of their voices the products they’re selling. I used to get excited about buying from them. After all, it takes only some change and presto, I have a snack! There are certain things however that I wouldn’t dare touch now like pig’s blood barbecue, duck fetus, chicken feet, and chicken intestines, to name a few. I could hear my Filipino friends asking, “so what else is left?” To that I’d proudly say “Plenty!”.
For starters, I can buy mango on a stick, banana cue, sweet potato cue, fried tofu on a stick, tapioca pearls or “sago”, young coconut pulp and juice, and Filipino’s all time favorite, Taho.
Taho is a sweet soy custard pudding with sweet syrup called “arnibal”, and tapioca pearls. The ingredients are stored separately in aluminum containers, mixed only when ready to serve. A taho vendor will carry the container using a yoke hanging by his shoulders. Here’s a better idea:
Photo by: Market Manila
After every minute or so, the vendor would yell “Taho” at the top of his/her voice (pronounced “Tah-hoh” with the emphasis on the second syllable). Anyway, kids and adults would come out of their houses, waiving to the vendor to come by their way.
Well, because I live here in the San Francisco Bay Area now, I don’t expect a Taho vendor coming by my neighborhood any time soon. BUT I can make my beloved Taho snack at the comfort of my own kitchen, any time of day.
- soy pudding – I got a ready-made soy pudding at an Asian grocery store.
- OR silken tofu – I also experimented with silken tofu to see if I can have the same taste.
- tapioca pearls
- muscovado sugar
- OR maple syrup
For the syrup:
- The ratio is 1-1 so boil one cup water and one cup sugar in a sauce pan. Mix and simmer until it thickens (about 8-10 minutes).
For the tapioca pearls:
- Over high heat, boil 4 cups of water in a pot.
- Add about 1 cup tapioca pearls and continue to boil over low heat. Wait until the pearls submerge on top and become half translucent. You can do a test by biting on one of them. The outside has to be soft.
If you’re using silk tofu:
- Simply break them apart in chunks and boiled them in water for about 15 minutes or until it reaches a custard-y texture.
- In a cup, add slices of the soy pudding, then top it with pearls and syrup. Repeat.
It’s best to enjoy Taho while it’s still warm.
The silken tofu does the job but I still prefer the ready made soy pudding. If you’d like to make the soy pudding from scratch, this link explains it.
Anyway, one bite from my Taho and it instantly brought me back to my old neighborhood! Remember that scene in the movie “Ratataouille” when the critic had his first bite of the Ratatouille dish? It’s like that. I hope you’ll enjoy it too!
Feel free to also check out: Vegan in the Philippines, Scenes from my last trip