Tuesday, June 11, 2013

#140 Philippines' Taho

Ah, this breakfast food made with silken tofu, sago (tapioca) pearls and brown sugar vanilla syrup brings back many great memories of the happy life in the Philippines. Green grass, laughter, Roseville, busy streets, the sound of motorcycles, jeepney, the airplanes flying too close to our house. Warm nights. Warm sand. Warm water in the ocean. Sleeping with windows open at night, all year round. Coconut trees, balimbing, macopa. And Taho, sweet and filling.., and many more..sigh, only in the Philippines. Taho, is one inescapable breakfast food for Filipinos, and oh how Russell, my younger brothers and I loved it. My nurse friends Grace and Michelle did too, we used to meet up after school twice a week along Ilustre, steps away from Davao Doctors Hospital, where our favorite Taho place was. We ate Taho for late afternoon snack. :) How wholesome, innocent and simple life was! And then of course there's the weekend mornings, it is when I catch the hardworking Taho vendors  selling it in our neighborhood, they loudly yell "TA-HO!!!", yup! no horns, just their powerful deep voices in every 5 steps they make, "TA-HO, TA-HO MO DIHA!!!"..  on their shoulders rests a bamboo stick about 8 feet long, on each end of the stick,  their huge covered stainless steel buckets  hang, one filled with gallons of silken tofu, and the other with more gallons of arnibal (the vanilla & brown sugar syrup), and they carry this heavy load by walking for miles and miles hoping that by the end of the morning, all the patrons would have already bought all the contents of the heavy buckets on their shoulders, which thankfully, it is what happens 99% of the time.  Then they go back home to rest and make the silken tofu from scratch for the next morning. Thanks to them for supplying this treat to the communities. Who doesn't love Taho? I don't know of anyone! Certainly not me! We were among the loyal patrons, my brothers I believe still are. Back when I was living there, I bought it every time a vendor passes by our home because 1.) It is delicious 2.) I felt for the vendors. But I think it's also because their happiness and optimism in life were so infectious and by golly, such great social people they are too! 3.) I had no idea and definitely no interest in making it myself.
Life has changed in many ways. Gone is the simplicity, and now it's a constant chasing of goals, and life can be busy because in this day and age, the level of contentment for anything material and even the personal relationships we acquire and retain is kind of high, especially in this part of the world. I guess it comes with the territory, being young and full of life means being in a marathon that will only end in retirement. :)  And when I want to get away from it all for a few minutes,  I sit down and open my bucket of golden memories and what pure bliss it is every time. Taho brought me back to my center last week, I did not buy it ready made nor did a google search on where to find because, 1.) I wanted something delicious for breakfast 2.) I miss home, everything and every one in it, and I knew it would bring me joy 3.) I have every desire to make it myself now, because I learned how easy it is to make at home, thanks to my source.

Yield: 4 servings


To cook the sago pearls, you will need:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
6 cups water
1/4 cup sago (tapioca) pearls

For arnibal,  the vanilla & brown sugar syrup, you will need:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup water

1 one-pound package organic silken tofu

  1. Put sugar and water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add sago pearls and stir until water returns to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and continue cooking sago with the lid on, stirring occasionally, until they are almost translucent with a pinpoint of white in the center. Sago is cooked when it is tender but still chewy. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.Small sago pearls take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook while the bigger ones take much longer. In low heat, simmer big pearls with the lid on for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn off the heat and let them continue to cook in the saucepan for about an hour. If they are still not done, bring water to another boil, reduce heat, and simmer with the lid on for another 30 minutes. Repeat the process until they are almost translucent with a pinpoint of white in the center. Cooking sago in a rapid boil for a long time breaks them apart and makes them too soft and too mushy. Sago can be prepared ahead of time. Transfer drained cooked sago pearls to a container, add enough water to cover pearls, cover and refrigerate for up to a few days. Stir well and then drain before using. 
  2.  To make arnibal, put sugar, vanilla, and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. One part sugar to one part water. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir a minute or two, until the sugar dissolves. Take off heat and set aside.
  3. Steam silken tofu in a steamer until heated through, about 15 minutes.
  4. Divide tofu equally into four glasses or bowls. Add sago pearls and sweeten with arnibal. Mix together and serve warm.


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