Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I'm in a Filipino mood. Been somewhat craving summer treats from the motherland. Summer days equals air conditioning and ice cold refreshing drinks. I'm digging deep down into my roots and sharing with you a classic treat. This is a common drink served by street vendors with their homemade foods. Sold for less than P5 per cup. Pesos. That's like a few US cents. I'm horrible with exchange rates, but I know it's considerably really cheap. You'd also find this at any, if not most, Filipino gatherings.
Every time I visit The Peach Kitchen, a fantastic blog that is run by Peachkins, I'm always reminded of the foods I grew up on. I did grow up in Los Angeles, I'm fortunate that there's so many stores and restaurants and parties that serve and make foods from the Philippines. On one of her recent posts (here) I saw a picture of a large container of this delicious drink and took it upon myself to make some. Actually, it's been on my agenda of things to make, but I've just finally had to push myself to make it. Besides, this is a "hot weather" drink.
Sago at Gulaman, which in English is translated to tapioca pearls and agar jelly, is served in a simple syrup as a shaved ice dessert or as a refreshing drink.
Sago (sa-go) are practically the same stuff you'd find in boba. Cooking tapioca pearls is a bit of a process. Not hard. It just takes a bit of time. There are three ways you can to do them:
1. Boiling the pearls the day before waiting 12 hours, boiling them again and wait another three hours or more before serving.
2. Boiling the pearls for 2 hours straight (constantly stirring)
3. Buy the "ready made in syrup" kind.
Option 2 and 3 are for those who can't wait that long and don't have much time. But you can still do the first one even if you have a time limit. Knowing me, I'll take option 1 and 2. For some reason, I feel like I'm cheating if I use option #3. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just how I roll. I've got some time anyway. Besides, this drink isn't hard to make. You just want the tapioca pearls for be really soft ad slightly firm and tender at the center.
Gulaman (gu-la-man) is a type of firm jelly made from agar-agar, which is process seaweed. Many Asian countries use them as well. You can use jello, but the consistency won't be the same. Or you can omit it all together. It's up to you. You can find them in three varieties:
1. The canned version, which is the jelly already made and preserved in syrup. The other side had an the English name of it. It didn't occur to me to picture the other side until I threw the can away. I think it had "ai jar jelly" written on it. I spiked it with a couple drops of banana extract.
2. A dry seaweed block. Similar to the consistency of nori sheets, but in different colors.
3. The boxed version like jello.
I took option 1. It's what I'm used to using. It's also has to be unflavored. You can these two items in many Asian markets.
There's really no special way to serve this. Put the tapioca pearls and agar jelly in a cup. Mix it with some simple syrup (brown sugar and water) and have it as a shaved ice dessert or as a iced drink. Eat it the tapioca pearls with a spoon or if you can get your hands on one of those jumbo straws.
I have one of those manual hand crank ice shavers. That thing it probably close to 20-years-old and still works like a charm. *knock on wood* It's like a workout just getting a cup-worth of ice shavings, but I'm happy to put the effort into it. Burn a calorie or two and add it back on with a sweet drink. The ice melts when I drizzle the syrup over creating instant liquid.
You can make a large batch for a party, too. I guess you can call it the Filipino version of the punch bowl because it's usually served in large containers. I've put the instruction for those who are adventurous to try the making the tapioca pearls the old fashioned way.
Easy-peasy and minutes to make that will satisfy the sweet tooth. It's a refreshing drink that beats the heat any day.
Sago at Gulaman
Sago (Tapioca Pearls):
8oz tapioca pearls
2 1/2 liters water
Gulaman (Agar Jelly):
12 oz agar jelly or jello (unflavored)
a couple drops of Banana extract
1 c Brown sugar
1 1/2 water
(Note: you can also speed up the process by boiling the tapioca balls for 2 hours straight or until all or most of the white starch has disappeared. Be sure to stir occasionally to keep them from sticking. Make sure to replenish the water to prevent them from burning. Put into a container filled with water to cool them before serving.)
Bring the 2 1/2 liters of water to a boil. Add in the tapioca pearls and let them cook for 15 min. Stir constantly to keep them from sticking.
Then boil them again with another 2 1/2 liters of water for 10 min. Rinse them in cold water to cool and then put them in a container full of water and let it rest for 3 hours in the fridge or until all the white parts have disappeared.
Putting it all together:
Cut the jelly into square chunks. Size is your choice. Add a couple drops of banana extract and gently mix. Set aside.
Make the simple syrup by bringing the 1 1/2 c water to a boil. Add the brown sugar and stir occasionally. You want all the granules to dissolve. Let it cool completely before using.
Take a large cup or drinking glass and place some of the tapioca pearls and agar jelly. Top with some shaved ice or or regular ice and drizzle in some of the simple syrup. Add water, if needed
Note: If not using all the cooked tapioca pearls, keep them soaked in water in the fridge or they will harden and stick to each other.