Banana Sauce & Halo-Halo: Welcome to the Philippines
This entry was posted on September 13, 2011.
We at AsianFoodGrocer.com are always looking for new and inventive ways to broaden our inventory of Asian foods. We've recently acquired some Pilipino condiments and desserts, and are excited about telling you all about them here. So read on and let us introduce you to this country's fantastic cuisine.
This is one of our favorite new products. The history of banana sauce goes back to WWII. During that time there were a lot of food shortages in the Philippines. Ketchup was very popular there, but there were no tomatoes, so people couldn't enjoy their favorite foods. But necessity being the mother of all invention, a noted Filipino chemist, Maria Orosa, realized she could get a new type of ketchup using bananas instead of tomatoes. Bananas were then mashed up and mixed with sugar, a little vinegar, and a few other spices and herbs, and they had banana ketchup. Banana ketchup became very popular, so much so that it grew to be more than just a condiment and was an important ingredient in many Filipino meals.
Traditional ketchup with tomatoes is still popular in the Philippines, but Banana sauce has become a staple in the cuisine. It is no longer seen as an alternative to regular ketchup, but is its own unique and important ingredient. It comes on both Hot, and Traditional, and offers a slightly sweeter yet spicier take on typical ketchup.
It is commonly used on a lot of things, but some of the more notable foods would be fried foods, spring rolls, pork chops, chicken, and french fries. While it's typically used on meaty or fried foods, people tend to use it as an all purpose kind of thing, and you can find it in pizza, on spaghetti, even with mangoes.
This delicious dessert is an eclectic mix- Halo actually translates to 'Mix' in Tagalog. It has a base of coco gel and an assortment of sweet ingredients such as bananas, jackfruit, white beans, macapuno, sugar palm nuts, and other ingredients indigenous to the Philippines. These items are boiled, and mixed together with shaved ice, evaporated milk, and ice cream. It makes for a creamy, fruity treat, and is very popular on hot days.
This is made from Sugar Palm Nuts. They are little, pale fruits about the size of grapes. They are super sweet and are considered the Filipino alternative to Maraschino cherries. They are commonly used as a topping for various desserts as well as salads. Many people even eat them not only as a topping, but by themselves.
The trees they come from are the sugar palm trees, which is basically a palm tree, and is itself a useful tool. The trees have been used to make vinegar, alcohol, ropes, roofing tiles, furniture, tools, and of course, Kaong.
This is a variation of a very popular dish that's called Nata de Coco. Nata de Pina is pineapple juice that has been fermented and sweetened. It's translucent, and has a gelatin like texture. Nata de Pina is a less widespread dish than nata de coco overall, but is bigger in certain areas.
It was developed because pineapple doesn't deal well with
freezing. Its flavor tended to change under cold temperatures, so
it became popular to ferment it as a form of preservation. Sugar was
soon added and the preserved, gelatinous pineapple became a very
popular treat. It is commonly used in different desserts, and you can find many recipes that incorporate it. We recommend mixing it with yogurt, serving it with ice cream, or preparing it with crushed ice and evaporated milk.
This is a special type of coconut. Macapuno basically translates to something like mutant coconut, or alien coconut, although English speakers tend to call it Coconut Sport. This is a unique type of coconut, which naturally grows off of normal coconut trees, and provides a sweeter taste with more meat inside than a typical coconut. They are turned into a popular dessert by having the meat of the macapuno shredded, pan fried in sugar and syrup, and then preserved in gelatin.
Farmers and scientists in the Philippines have invested a lot of time and money in learning how to isolate macapunos so that they can control their growth, because typically a macapuno is very rare. Only about 2% of trees ever bear macapuno naturally, but through research and experimenting with macapuno seeds, farmers now have trees that have an 80% chance of producing macapunos successfully.
We hope you learned a little bit from our blog and we hope you give our Filipino food a shot. So, experiment with the banana sauce, both as a main ingredient and as a condiment. Try it with your fried food, your pasta, and even your fruit. And please try our various Filipino Sauces and Desserts. They'll offer a different take on what you're used to, and we know you'll absolutely love them.