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Sweet and Sticky Pinoy Treats: Our Top 10 Kakanin
SPOT.ph gives you the dish on the Pinoy kakanin treats that top our list.
By: Jenny B. Orillos  |   Published on: Jun 21, 2010 - 10:57am

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Rice turned into a snack becomes kakanin—“something a lot of Pinoys love to eat till the next meal. The kakanin remains as constant as rice and as complex as our identity as Filipinos. With simple ingredients like glutinous rice, coconut milk, and sugar, we can turn them into kakanin of unending varieties.

We hear the maglalako (hawker) shout "Puto! Kutsinta!" or honk their wares while balancing tin containers on a shoulder. Market stalls still sell them by the bilao or packaged in neat Styrofoam at the supermarket's native deli.

 

Glutinous rice is used to make kakanin instead of the type we cook with our ulam. Calling them cakes may seem misleading but that is what they are—“rice cakes that are meant to celebrate our staple food.

This special kind of rice are so prized that early Filipinos offered the best kakanin to the gods as thanksgiving. These are also served in our fiestas, holidays, and other special gatherings. Aside from malagkit rice, we also use cassava, ube, pinipig, and other root crops in making our kakanin.

 

Filling, sweet, and sticky, here is a sampling of our favorite Filipino kakanin:



SAPIN-SAPIN

 




Sweet basics:

Sapin-sapin is a colorful layered rice cake, made from glutinous rice flour, coconut milk and sugar. The best sapin-sapin is the one with a texture so fine it glides and tastes milky. Its colors—“violet, yellow and white—“makes it more attractive. Latik is sprinkled on the top. Also served with grated coconut.

 

Origin: From the root word sapin which is Tagalog for "blanket," the name pertains to the layers of rice cake. The best sapin-sapin I've tasted was freshly made from the pamilihang bayan of Malabon, also home to many rice cake makers. Gilda Cordero ernando notes that the best sapin-sapin is claimed by all Central Luzon provinces, one of which is Nueva Ecija. She says their ersion is six or seven-layered, creamy, and melt in your mouth.



Interesting layers: To achieve the blankets of kakanin, each layer is steamed until set before the next layer is added. Before the advent of food coloring, Sta. Maria notes the traditional colors were purple (ube), golden brown (brownsugar), and white (white sugar). Some sapin-sapin are sold as several small rectangles of one color each formed in concentric circles.



SPOT recommends: Dolor's Kakanin, P145 good for 2-3 people (Malabon 281-2739; Quezon City 927-4453)



SUMAN

 

 

Sweet basics: A rice cake made from glutinous rice and usually wrapped tightly in leaves. Sta. Maria notes that the leaf wrapper—“banana, palm, buri and pandan—“varies according to locality. Some can be bought in bunches or in single portions.

Origin: Filipinos have been making the suman since pre-colonial times. We offer it to the gods and as presents to visitors. Antonio Pigafetta, according to Sta. Maria, provides the first description of the rice cakes, which he observed "were wrapped in leaves and were made in somewhat longish pieces."

Interesting layers: Almost all provinces have their own special suman. There's suman sa
ibos, suman sa lihia
, sumang balinghoy, sumang inantala, sumang mais, sumang maruecos, sumang saba, suman sa budbud. From Pampanga there's suman a duman, suman a inangit, suman a patupat. From Dumaguete, the budbud kabug is made from millet instead of rice.   In Leyte, there's suman nga matamis, suman inasin, tinipa, morĂłn,
sagmani
and binagol.

 

SPOT recommends:

Tita Lynn's Flavored Suman, P25 per piece (Coco Mas and Ube flavors);   Abe (Suman sa Lihiya with Latik, P129 and Choco Eh! fondue with Fried Suman, P220)

 

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34 Comments
  • wallflowerjona
    Hello Guys I have been reading your comments and I found several of you who are living outside the country and yet you miss Kakanin. I recommend you check out this filipina who lives in Australia and yet she markets kakanin http://fivetables.com/ the website is still pretty bare but she already accepts orders.. hope you give her a chance.
    Aug 05 2012 @ 05:32pm     Reply  
  • joyaks
    I'm from Malolos Bulacan . You should try our kakanin at Aling Citang's in Sta. Isabel . I have tried all the sapin sapin but the one fr. Canalate in Malolos is the best try this number 0447914285. .
    Jun 15 2011 @ 04:11pm     Reply  
  • mitchie
    Thank u po hahanapin ko ung recipe favorite ko pu un kapampangan ako ehhehe
    Dec 01 2010 @ 03:17pm     Reply  
  • marianne
    The best puto bumbong i've ever had was at a stall across the street from Rizal's house in Calamba many many years ago. rnrnIf you could list any places still serving the real deal - using pirurutong - you'd really make my day! thanks for the article.
    Nov 06 2010 @ 01:26pm     Reply  
  • shawie
    TAMALES YUN BOBOTO SA KAPAMPANGAN MASARAP IULAM YUN SA SINANGAG HAY GRABEH NAKAKAGUTOM TALAGA!
    Oct 18 2010 @ 04:27am     Reply  
  • champagne11
    for me, the best suman will be my lola's homemade suman.. my uncle and older cousins will do the mixing (it's like going to the gym when you mix the heavy mixture for 3-5 hours non-stop ;)) and then we'll do the eating.. yum yum!
    Jul 26 2010 @ 04:16am     Reply  
  • nunsee
    is puto bongbong considered as kakanin also?
    Jul 13 2010 @ 10:06am     Reply  
  • khrysszy
    hmmmm yum yum nmn i love kakanin eh...sana merong online na pede umorder ng kakanin or padeliver hehe
    Jul 08 2010 @ 04:43pm     Reply  
  • sumanfan
    you have to try suman sa latik from Samar :) they wrap the suman with 'hagikhik' leaves which gives the suman a distinct flavor.. so yummy! but sadly i can't find hagikhik anywhere here in Metro Manila so i have to ask my mom to bring some from Samar everytime she comes to visit.. :(
    Jul 04 2010 @ 05:37pm     Reply  
  • carmel
    miss this...
    Jun 28 2010 @ 08:13am     Reply  
  • madaboutfood
    the 'budin' (cassava cake) from buddy's pancit lucban is really, really good too! :)
    Jun 25 2010 @ 10:53am     Reply  
  • u8mypinkcookies
    @Teddycapz: oh yeah, I love guinataang halo-halo too! :)

    @dooler: must agree, Dolor's rellenong bangus is so yummy. I also like their yema rolls (somewhat like a pianono/ sponge roll) :D

    Is buko tart considered a kakanin? Haha, I love the buko or ube tarts sold in Rowena's or Amira's in Tagaytay... Addicting.
    Jun 24 2010 @ 08:55pm     Reply  
  • Jenny Orillos
    @Ige I think she spent a good 20 years collecting and compiling her research. What better way to honor her work than to read the book. I leaf through it for work and for leisure & love the wonderful tidbits I discover each time.
    Kudos on the design also, which smoothly incorporates old recipes, side stories and the glossaries into the text. Tamang-tama ang timpla, wika nga.
    Jun 24 2010 @ 02:18pm     Reply  
  • igeramos
    @Jenny, thank you also for consulting The Governor-General's Kitchen. That book changed my life. When I first read the raw manuscript before the book was put together, I immediately fell in love with it. The author, Felice Sta. Maria, was so kind and generous with her research and information. She was a joy to work with. This book opened my eyes how beautiful, complex and rich our cuisine is.
    Jun 24 2010 @ 10:35am     Reply  
  • Jenny Orillos
    @angelsy Sta. Rosa, Laguna also has sinukmani. They pair it with kilawing puso ng saging so you get an interesting pair of sweet and savory/sour. Sarap.

    @teddycapz Cassava cake was on my list but had to switch it with the more festive bibingka at the last minute. The cassava became part of my merienda instead : ) As for ginataang bilo-bilo, I’m not sure if it can be categorized under kakanin per se. When we were kids, we had so much fun shaping the galapong into little balls to make the bilo-bilo for my lola’s ginataan.

    @igeramos Thank you very much for reading, Ige. All the kakanin (and books) consumed during the research had been worth it. : )

    I’ll definitely check out the Cartimar kakanin in Pasay. I noticed that kakanin (especially sapin-sapin) tastes so good when it’s just been recently made and the texture is super fine.

    That suman dipped in honey & eaten with cashew and mango made me hungry at this hour.
    Jun 24 2010 @ 12:07am     Reply  
  • dooler
    The other popular non-kakanin food item in Dolor's is the Rellenong Bangus.

    I live close to their shop in QC. I saw it grew from a really small place to now a bigger and more decent one.

    They also have a food stall in the Landmark in Trinoma (and I think there's also one in Megamall)just in case the shops are really far from your place.
    Jun 23 2010 @ 04:08pm     Reply  
  • Aling Dolor kuno
    by the way, Dolors Kakanin's other popular food, not kakanin, is the rellenong bangus.

    I live close to Dolor's in QC where I saw it grew from being a really small shop to now a bigger one. It also has a stand in the Landmark in Trinoma just in case you want to buy their kakanins...
    Jun 23 2010 @ 04:01pm     Reply  
  • lobanegra
    my fave of all time is.... BIKO!!!!!
    walang Bicol here? as in pinutong? the best!
    Jun 23 2010 @ 01:36pm     Reply  
  • igeramos
    I forgot to congratulate Jenny for her fantastic food anthropology research. keep up the good work.
    Jun 22 2010 @ 11:39pm     Reply  
  • igeramos
    They have a beautiful selection of kakanin for sale in Pasay cartimar market every Sunday.
    Jun 22 2010 @ 11:31pm     Reply  
  • igeramos
    Lethal combination: Suman from Antipolo, dipped in honey, eaten with ripe mango and cashew nuts, washed down with ice-cold salabat/lemon grass ice tea.
    Jun 22 2010 @ 11:28pm     Reply  
  • Teddycapz
    Love everything on this list! Comfort food galore!

    I love me some Dolor's Kakanin, but their sapin-sapin is hardly the real deal - more of "hele-helera" with the different kakanin variants arranged in concentric circles. Wouldn't mind having a serving or two of it though.

    I'm just wondering - why didn't the popular cassava cake make the cut? Also, is ginataang halo-halo considered as kakanin even if it only has the bilu-bilo or glutinous rice balls to qualify for the requisite rice component? These two just happens to be among my all-time favorites.

    At any rate, this article brings back fond memories of my dearly departed mom's cooking and my forays as a kid into the neighborhood wet market with all the gustatory prized finds it had in store.

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Ms. Orillos. :-)
    Jun 22 2010 @ 05:56pm     Reply  
  • Chloe
    Bibingka with itlog na maalat & butter is a top notcher :)

    Sayang di nakasama ung karioka hehe!
    Jun 22 2010 @ 02:18pm     Reply  
  • Jean
    this makes me suuppeerrr crave for kakanin! all of them! *sigh*
    Jun 22 2010 @ 10:28am     Reply  
  • angel sy
    In Quezon province, biko is more popularly known as sinukmani, wla lang, trivia , trivia, hehe :)
    Jun 22 2010 @ 09:18am     Reply  
  • Jenny Orillos
    Hi, Alan!

    Thank you for pointing out the relation of the Filipino bibingka to the Indian bebinca. We've added more info to incorporate references to the origin of the name.

    It’s really interesting to trace the route of our bibingka’s etymology and origin and compare it with a similar rice cake or dessert—at least in name—of other countries like India (particularly Goa), Macau and East Timor all of which incidentally were influenced by the Portuguese. There’s a healthy discussion about the commonalities of these delicacies on the internet. I feel though that our actual rice cake is much closer to its Chinese influence, particularly its name and main ingredient (rice), than that of the Portuguese colonies.

    As for my reference, it’s food historian Felice Sta. Maria’s The Governor General’s Kitchen. Below is an excerpt from the book, page 107, about the bibingka:

    “Arsenio Manuel traces the word to bi, Chinese for “rice.” Spaniards classified this preparation as a pudding made with glutinous rice flour or ordinary rice made into a wet paste—and by 1877, eggs. In 1880 Ilocano vocabularies, bibingka batter included glutinous rice powder, sugar and coconut milk… Bibingka had to be baked in a special clay oven, a technology from China which was quickly assimilated along with other vendor fare. ”

    Thanks,
    Jenny
    Jun 21 2010 @ 10:10pm     Reply  
  • Malabon Girl
    Norma's puto is the best!!! Fluffy as air, with red egg on top! You must try it, I swear.
    Jun 21 2010 @ 08:45pm     Reply  
  • robb
    I like Pinoy buchi, the ones sold in the streets of Tondo by walking vendors. They're sticky fried balls of glutinous rice stuffed with sweet mashed mongo. What makes them ultimately Pinoy is when these sticky balls are tossed in powdered milk. Yum!

    Tibok-tibok is also awesome... but I don't think it's included in the list because it's not chiefly produced in Metro Manila.
    Jun 21 2010 @ 06:31pm     Reply  
  • Jean
    I super kaduper love Dolor's Kakanin! :)
    Jun 21 2010 @ 04:50pm     Reply  
  • Bunny
    No, no, no, no!!! You cannot have a top 10 kakanin list without TIBOK TIBOK from Susie's Cuisine in Pampanga! It's the very, very, very best kakanin there is!
    Jun 21 2010 @ 03:25pm     Reply  
  • alan
    Origins: Like biko, the term bibingka borrows from the Chinese word for rice, “bi.” Bibingka is also used in naming other rice cakes such as bibingkang cassava and bibingkang malagkit.

    excuse me, bibingka is from indian delicacy not chinese. please verify source!
    Jun 21 2010 @ 03:15pm     Reply  
  • Jun Pyo
    brings back a lot of childhood memories. from buying them after morning sunday mass and eating them on the way home
    Jun 21 2010 @ 02:17pm     Reply  
  • u8mypinkcookies
    Dolor's sapin-sapin, suman sa lihiya, suman dipped in sugar, budbud kabog, Tita Lyn's flavored suman (ube or mango), put & kutchinta from Calasiao, Amber's pichi-pichi, biko/ bibingka malagkit topped with lots of latik, calamay from Ilocos, tupig, puto bumbong, angko (from Bicol-- small, round kakanin like mochi)... there are just SOME of my faves!
    Jun 21 2010 @ 10:06am     Reply  
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