Hello Everyone! So usually a new month on the blog means a new theme as well, but this time around I’ve decided to continue sharing Filipino breakfast favourites as there are so much more to cover than just the –silog dishes!
Tonight I will be sharing with you a popular breakfast protein in a cup known as Taho, pronounced tah-ho. It is basically warm bland silken tofu that is sweetened with a caramelised sugar syrup known as arnibal, and is topped with tiny sago (tapioca) pearls. The tofu base is as fine as custard that practically disintegrates into your mouth at every slurp. The arnibal imparts a warm, molasses-like aroma, and addition to the sweetness it brings to lift the tofu, it also gives it an earthy dimension. The sago? Ties the whole cup together by giving it some bite. It is a perfect breakfast to-go that warms your insides, is filling, and has enough sugar to get you through the morning.
Traditionally, taho vendors hawk their product using a yoke-and-bucket system that is hundreds of years old. Two aluminium buckets are suspended from each end of a bamboo pole – one containing the silken tofu, and the other carrying the arnibal, sago, and other necessities like plastic cups, spoons, and the day’s takings. Taho vendors balance their signature contraption on one shoulder and walk the streets in the mornings calling out “tahhoooooo” drawing out the second syllable for as long as their breath can handle.
As easy as it is to get taho from vendors, it is also just as easy to make it at home yourself with either store-bought silken tofu, or by making your own at home with instant or Homemade Soy Milk with a coagulant agent to help aid in the curdling of the soy milk to form taho – in this case, the recipe uses Epsom salt. Original recipe can be found over on Foxy Folksy.
PREP TIME 5 MINS | COOKING TIME 20 MINS | SERVES 4
For the silken tofu
- 2 cups unsweetened soy milk, instant or homemade
- 1/8 cup water
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 & 1/2 tsp (leveled) Epsom salt
For the arnibal
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup small-sized tapioca pearls, uncooked
If using store-bought silken tofu, skip ahead to step 6
- Taho: In a large cooking pot over the stove, place a heat-proof bowl that is big enough to hold at least 500ml of liquid in it.
- Dissolve the cornstarch in 1/8 cup of water in a small bowl. Add the Epsom salt to the mixture and then stir until dissolved.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared bowl in the cooking pot. Then slowly pour in the instant/homemade soy milk to the cornstarch and Epsom salt mixture. DO NOT STIR! Once both mixtures are combined, try not to agitate it otherwise it will not curdle smoothly.
- Pour boiling water into the pot just enough to be on the same level of the soy milk mixture in the bowl. Cover the pot with the lid wrapped with a clean cloth to absorb the steam and prevent the droplets formed from dripping into the taho mixture.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and let the taho cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it is firm to the touch but still wiggly. While waiting for the taho to cook, you can prepare the arnibal and tapioca pearls.
- Arnibal: Combine equal parts of brown sugar and water in a small pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally and let it simmer until it thickens into a syrup, about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Tapioca Pearls: In a small pot, bring to a boil about a half litre of water before adding the tapioca pearls in. Leave to cook for about 10 minutes. Cooking time may vary depending on the size of your pearls.
- Place a colander or strainer in a bowl or pot and pour the pearls through to separate them from the water. Pour the same water used back into the cooking pot and bring the water to a boil again.
- Wash the strained tapioca pearls thoroughly with tap water and then place it back into the pot of boiling water again. Cook further until they become completely translucent ensuring that there are no white spots at the core.
- Serve: Using a wide spoon or ladle, make thin scoops of taho and transfer to a glass or mug. Top with the arnibal syrup and tapioca pearls. Enjoy while it’s warm!
You can find taho vendors almost in every corner – everywhere! There’s usually a vendor just outside the entrance to the weekend market where my Mom and I do our weekly groceries. I also remember coming across a taho vendor on the beach as well. In fact, we have our own taho vendor who comes on his bicycle every morning around 9am yodeling “tahhoooooo” on our street. Occasionally we’d call out to him for a cup (or two) of delicious taho, and since he comes right to our doorstep, we opt to use our own ceramic cups/mugs instead of the plastic cups he usually serves them in – we need to do what we can to reduce plastic waste!
In Baguio City, Strawberry Taho is a big hit where locally grown strawberries from the region are preserved as chunky jam and then added to the bland tofu instead of arnibal. Make you own chucky strawberry jam at home with my Homemade Strawberry Jam to bring the City of Baguio into your kitchen!
– Ally xx