Taho’: A Favorite Philippine Street Vendor Snack
The magtataho (taho street vendor) beckons as he calls out prospective hungry customers, inviting
them to a delicious sweet and silky treat. As a child growing up in Manila, where the streets are commonly
occupied by vendors selling their snacks, I could single out the magtataho and almost always respond to his call. I’d go ask my mother for a few centavos then run outside to satisfy my craving. At times ‘though, other kids would beat me to the vendor. 😀
And how can I forget the contraption that holds all that good stuff?The taho itself is inside a tall cylindrical container, wider
on top and slimmer at the bottom. The magtataho balances it with a smaller cylinder behind him using a
strong bamboo stick resting on his shoulders. And yes, it is in that cylinder which contains the sweet syrup and the tapioca
The Magtataho (Photo source from Wikipedia)
Incidentally, taho originated from the Chinese douhua. There are a lot of varieties of the douhua depending on the
country that makes it. For instance, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam have their own versions.
When I moved to New York, I’ve always wondered how I can get taho without having to go back to the Philippines. Luckily, my family discovered a version of it from Chinatown, which is close in taste but not as sweet as the Pinoy version. And yes, no tapioca
pearls! Another version I tasted had a hint of ginger, which is not too bad (but I wasn’t crazy about it! 🙂 ). Then about a year ago, I came across silken tofu at the refrigerated section of a supermarket. I looked at it and wondered how people make of it.
A-ha! Yes! I realized that it’s the same tofu used for taho; but this one just comes in a nice package. This got me crazy and led me to pick up the other ingredients like brown sugar and tapioca pearls from a Filipino store. So here’s my recipe of the Filipino version of taho. Try it and enjoy!
22 ounces extra soft or silken tofu
2 cups brown sugar
½ cup uncooked tapioca pearls
3 cups water for boiling tapioca
4 cups water for sugar syrup
1. Pour 3 cups of water in a rice cooker, cover and bring to a boil.
2. Pour tapioca pearls slowly and stir it to prevent it from sticking together.
3. Bring the mixture to boil leaving the cooker uncovered.
4. As soon as it boils, cover and continue boiling for 30 minutes.
5. Once cooked, drain the water in a strainer and wash pearls with cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
6. Heat a saucepan then pour-in 4 cups of water.
7. Put-in 2 cups of brown sugar once the water starts to boil. Mix well and simmer for 1 minute.
8. Add the pearls in the syrup. Mix and turn off heat.
9. Transfer the extra soft tofu in a bowl or mug then heat in a microwave oven for a minute.
10. Top the extra soft tofu with the cooked tapioca pearls and sweet syrup.
11. Serve warm.
(Reference for the article on douhua: Wikipedia under the title Douhua)