29 Oct2007


Growing up, the phrase “mag de lata nalang” meant there was no food being cooked and we had to rely on canned or bottled goods in the pantry. This usually happened when we got home early from school and were starving. Or when the cook and my mom were off somewhere and hadn’t planned on being away so long. Or during blackouts or other weather disturbances. My two favorite de lata meals were corned beef served together with pork & beans and rice, or spicy or non-spicy tuyo in oil fried and then served with chopped tomatoes, vinegar and rice. And gosh, do you remember those Royco Chicken Noodle Soup packets??? In those days, in the absence of microwave ovens and a much more limited choice of ready-to-cook foods at the groceries, the default de lata meals were pretty straightforward. Today, I still enjoy an occasional meal of corned beef AND pork and beans with rice and ketchup. Mrs. MM says in their household they never served the two things together, but in ours, it was a natural pairing. So yesterday, while munching on the humongous pomegranate that The Kid brought back from China, I decided to rummage through the pantry and came up with this de lata dessert concoction…


Throw a can of Mandarin orange segments (have you EVER wondered how they peel those darned oranges so neatly? an acid wash of some sort? mature women with fine peeling skills? child-labor?) into the freezer 2-3 hours before use, and do the same with a can of lychees. Next, open the cans and mix the two contents in little dessert bowls and garnish with pomegranate arils. Add some crushed ice if you want to. It tasted pretty good for just 2 minutes of effort. And it looked great. Hmm… I wonder what other great pantry dishes I can come up with…



  1. alicia says:

    I was reading something in Martha Stewart Living about her recipe for aging well and in the article said “never open/eat anything from a can and that includes a can of soda!” I undertand the logic and have been trying to lessen my own “canned food” intake for a while now but oh my, how can one resist corned beef..pork and beans (although not together for me either) and the very bad for you spam! And I enjoy mandarin oranges from a can/jar better than the fresh ones ! And cold canned peaches.. Yum! Our rule now is once every two months for “de lata”meat .. Hey, you got to live a little. Your dessert looks fab . I would like to think the healthy pomengranate seeds with all their antioxidants cancel out any potential hazards from the canned fruit!

    Oct 29, 2007 | 1:44 pm


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  3. joshua says:

    That was our favorite de lata meal too when we were growing up here in Cebu. Same pairing too. On rainy days, it was always corned beef, pork & beans, rice, plus scrambled eggs. Sometimes, vienna sausage if there was no corned beef. On other rainy days, it was inun-unan and scrambled eggs with ketchup. Real comfort food! Those were the days when we didn’t have to worry about sodium and cholesterol.

    Oct 29, 2007 | 2:09 pm

  4. mrs m says:

    oh yes, i remember those royco chicken noodle soup packets. there were no instant noodles then.
    sometimes mom would poach eggs into the boiling soup or would add some slices of carrots or chopped cabbage and thats the ulam for a rainy day. yeah, those were the days.

    Oct 29, 2007 | 2:15 pm

  5. Catalina says:

    On “de lata” days, when asked “anong ulam?” we’d say “dila.” The outsider would have visions of Lengua Asada or Lengua Estofada but the insider would know it’s either corned beef or Spam — di lata, nga eh :-)

    Oct 29, 2007 | 2:34 pm

  6. elaine says:

    I never knew royco…but I do love corned beef with lots of cabbage and pork&beans…of course nothing could substitute for the boiled dinner corned beef but the canned ones definitely satisfy. My late dad’s ultimate favorite was the canned lychees, just straight out from the can. It’s a real trea!…Does freezing substitute for putting cubed ice? I think it’s a neat idea. Btw, that’s a very attractive photo. and the pomegranate arils make a lot of difference to the otherwise mundane dessert!

    Oct 29, 2007 | 2:45 pm

  7. cwid says:

    Has anyone tried cooking corned beef with corn? I know someone who swears that this is how corned beef should be cooked! It somehow seems like a strange pairing to me.

    Oct 29, 2007 | 2:54 pm

  8. S says:

    ohhh.. i love royco noddle soup…. its heaven for me- specially – if served — pork & beans, fried dried fish & vinegar … hmmmhmm–yummy!

    cwid,- that sounds weird huh?! … but try corned beef & pork & beans together— really good. hehe

    Oct 29, 2007 | 4:05 pm

  9. myra_p says:

    Alicia, canned meats are banned from my kitchen, ESPECIALLY corned beef. If anyone takes the time to look at the ingredients list, you will see that you are not getting pure beef but instead, a dubious mixture of beef and carabao/carabeef. Disgusting. Another banned substance: red hotdogs.

    All canned meats Ive looked at contain MSG and mystery preservatives. The only canned “meat” I can buy without a shiver going down my spine is Hunts Pork and Beans (it is the only brand that doesnt contain MSG, and yes, I’ve looked at them all) and Century Tuna.

    I do purchase canned vegetables and fruits, but whenever I can, I buy fresh. My ‘de lata’ favorites are corn, mandarin oranges, beans and Del Monte (unsweetened) juice.

    Oct 29, 2007 | 4:59 pm

  10. elaine says:

    Btw, if you have spaghetti noodles and some de lata like corned beef and sweet corn, you can also have an instant pasta dish. I tried the corned beef with corn and pasta noodles (I think it’s called meal-in-one)…but then I’d rather skip the noodles. Corn does taste good with corned beef(yung canned):)

    Oct 29, 2007 | 6:16 pm

  11. Em Dy says:

    When I was still in training and going on duty every other day, our meals would be either hospital food or bought from a vendor who goes around the hospital. Occasionally, we’d buy barbeque from the vendors along Aurora Boulevard and pair it with rice. Sometimes, we have baon of canned sardines in oil and eat it straight from the can with rice. The cup noodles were also popular with us but I’ve since stopped eating that because of the high salt content. I still remember the time a cotrainee brought a jar of aligue. Masarap din.

    I remember going to the wake of the mother of one of our mentors, his wife was fussing about us and how to serve us dinner. Our boss told her not to worry about us. We can eat any which way, anytime, anywhere.

    Easy resource ang de lata.

    Oct 29, 2007 | 6:29 pm

  12. misao says:

    i loved royco when i was in gradeschool. their alphabet soup was fun eating.

    my favorite bottled/canned food nowadays is bottled hot and spicy spanish sardines from down south.

    Oct 29, 2007 | 7:16 pm

  13. Apicio says:

    Apologies for pushing back the edge of time and memory for a lot of Market Manila readers but the canned corned beef of my youth was Libby’s from either Argentina or Brazil. Packed chunks of beef with neither gristle nor sinew which was extended at home with onions and diced potatoes for dinner or fried into a dry and crisp hash for breakfast. It was a treat that was almost worth longing for inclement weather to taste. Quite expensive too even at the time since there was a rich cousin that we made a point of always including in our picnic plans because he invariably brought canned corned beef for baon which we shared and ate out of the tin.

    Yes, there is a chemical with an unwieldy name that I cannot recall just right now used to cast off the skin of mandarin sections. I hope it is not going to cause the skin to fall off our faces too later in a sort of exfoliation run amok.

    Oct 29, 2007 | 7:56 pm

  14. Silly Lolo says:

    Hoy Apicio! Did you live in our house? Dried, fried crisp hash was exactly how my Mom cooked corned beef and it was (is) superb. Mom sauteed a tad of garlic into the mix but that’s all. Three XXL eggs fried over easy, always meant heaven at breakfast! So Apicio were you the guy who hung out with my Tita Nita all the time?

    Oct 29, 2007 | 9:55 pm

  15. F1foodie says:

    Royco Chicken Noodle soup… now that’s RETRO cuisine for us. My Mom used to pack this in Thermoses for an after-swimming- class-snack at the Lozadas, yummy!

    Oct 29, 2007 | 9:57 pm

  16. allen says:

    Silly Lolo is younger than Apicio? I can’t believe it! I miss Royco alphabet noodles…

    Oct 29, 2007 | 10:06 pm

  17. currystrumpet says:

    my childhood just came rushing back at the mention of alphabet noodles! to this day, my utter comfort food is spam with ketchup and rice. puwede ring spanish-style century tuna with rice. and oooh, now i’m craving for pork and beans with pan de sal…

    Oct 29, 2007 | 10:18 pm

  18. artisan chocolatier says:

    corned beef with onions, pork and beans, garlic rice and “salmon” was always and still is a big treat for me. My siblings and I would also fight over the lone pork in the can.

    Question…why is Hunt’s beans more expensive than Hunt’s pork and beans? And why only one piece of pork in a can?

    Joke…once over dinner at my in-laws, my sis-in-law ask their wise-ass maid if they had decaf coffee and the maid replied….no, only de lata!!

    Oct 29, 2007 | 10:26 pm

  19. aggy says:

    my dad used to love half freezing canned del monte peaches or fruit cocktail in the can and eating them for a midnight snack

    Oct 29, 2007 | 10:55 pm

  20. munchkin mommy says:

    we love corned beef! we are such big fans of purefoods. we’ve tried the brands sold at the duty free but we always come back to purefoods so we stopped buying other brands. now that we’re in texas, we have to make do with the brands “palm” and one called “brown and white cow”, both of which are only available in asian stores. palm costs a whopping 4 dollars at the filipino store! :( the corned beef being sold at the local supermarkets are the hashed kind, which we don’t really find very appealing, but still keep a can or two for those days when i’m under a lazy spell. :D

    we also grew up to desserts of cold lychees and mandarin oranges! but we never tried serving both together. now, my 3 year old daughter has also acquired a taste for the canned mandarin oranges. hee hee! every other day, that’s the “fruit” she has in her lunch box. :)

    Oct 29, 2007 | 11:42 pm

  21. Maria Clara says:

    There was a time when “stateside” or PX canned fruit cocktails made a commotion in any market shelves where it’s being offered and not affordable at all especially during fiesta time. It was like a gold rush everyone was grabbing cans to churn them into frozen fruit salad with nestle cream, soft boil eggyolks, condensed milk, kaong and macapuno balls. I pick on the kaong and macapuno when I get this. Dinner guests gauged the elaborate food that filled the dining table from edge to edge with the presence of this dessert regardless lechon was offered, chicken galantina, morcon, or any other fiesta food the mere absence of frozen fruit salad always left an impression the hostess cut corners. Then came any dessert craze the crema de fruta which calls for this canned good again. Up to this time, I have not developed a fondness of canned fruit cocktails. I love well-chilled canned lychees with canned black gelatin drizzled with thick sugar syrup. I read somewhere discouraging the refrigeration of canned goods as it releases the lead toxin particles into the food but cannot recall the name of the publication where I read it from.

    Oct 30, 2007 | 2:17 am

  22. linda says:

    I loved Tome sardines with pandesal and since I haven’t found the Tome brand for yonks,I still like my sardines from either Italy or Spain served with thinly sliced onions,freshly ground pepper,a little chilli and a squeeze of lemon on pandesal.

    Oct 30, 2007 | 6:59 am

  23. dhayL says:

    I know it’s really unhealthy to eat canned foods, but i can’t help it once in a while, i love corned beef for breakfast, lunch or dinner, i even add corned beef whem i make “filipino style sopas” (with added milk). Spam is another delata food that i often eat for breakfast, it’s good with pandesal and fried rice too!

    Mandarin orange is my daughter’s fave, she enjoys it eating everyday for school snack, and when i can’t get my hands on fresh ones, i’d go for the canned mandarin, it’s a bit sweet though and it’s all good!!

    Oct 30, 2007 | 8:00 am

  24. MES says:

    Try making corned beef spaghetti–the Filipino way, sweet with lots of processed cheese. YUM!

    Oct 30, 2007 | 9:06 am

  25. dee bee says:

    same as Apicio, we cook corned beef with onions and diced potatoes.

    i like peach juice made from pureeing canned peaches with a bit of water or crushed ice.

    Oct 30, 2007 | 10:02 am

  26. Mila says:

    Libbys corned beef was our staple! Plus my mom used to say “only get the ones that say from Argentina” – I think she thought the meat there was better than the ones from elsewhere. Pampas, cowboys, etc.

    I preferred it without potatoes, but lots of garlic and onions, and eaten with sinangag (more garlic!!).

    But it’s been ages since I’ve eaten it, since most canned foods have way too much sodium and I have to watch my blood pressure.

    Oct 30, 2007 | 10:40 am

  27. zena says:

    With the corned beef our youth, I was surprised to see the corned beed at Swiss Inn when a friend oredered it. Buo pala siya! And my “innocence” was destroyed. Now that I can afford to choose my delata, nothing beats Palm corned beef and liver spread. i still like Vienna Sausage and SPam. =) But the Lite (less sodium) versions. I know they have a lot of mysterious stuff inside but hey, won’t they strenghten our immune system. =)

    Oct 30, 2007 | 1:13 pm

  28. James says:

    Corned beef, pork and beans and Royco chicken noodle soup were staples when we go for lunch picnics in summer on the riverbank in our town in Abra decades ago. The contents of the Royco packet was poured on to a boiling caldero of water, the corned beef and native onions were sauteed in a pan and the pork and beans was spooned straight from the can and into our platesful of steaming boiled rice. After a dip in the water, we go to the nearby cornfields to gather corn and we either boil or grill these for merienda. Those were carefree summer days!
    To artisanal chocolatier, kaya nga ‘pork and beans’ kasi, iisang slice lang ng pork at maraming beans. Kung dalawang slices ng pork plus the beans, di ‘porks and beans’ and tawag natin!

    Oct 30, 2007 | 3:16 pm

  29. mardie says:

    keeping canned goods in my pantry is always a priority with me, not only does it make for a quick dinner but its also good for emergency purposes i.e. biglaang bisita or calamities (God forbid). di ba dapat kasama yang mga easy-to-open canned goods sa “emergency preparedness kit” mo sa bahay along with your first aid kit and essentials? i remember in the 80’s when we had bagyo nitang in the visayas and we lived by the canned goods for a while dahil wala kang mabili sa market. wala naman tayong complain kasi nga masarap ang corned beef &/or pork and beans lalo na pag mainit ang kanin. yummy!

    Oct 30, 2007 | 4:42 pm

  30. edel says:

    i love pork and beans! (then)
    and sisig (now)

    Nov 2, 2007 | 8:49 am

  31. Cleod says:

    Our best canned dinner-in-a-pinch is Ma-Ling luncheon meat mixed with pork & beans and a lot of garlic! It’s just too bad the Ma-Ling we’re getting nowadays is mostly flour…there was a variant with a red label that had bits of ham mixed in – now *that* was pretty good with pork & beans too :)

    Nov 6, 2007 | 2:34 am

  32. Gigi says:

    Nakup! I’m a fan of de-lata but eversince I heard the story of my friend’s nightmarish find of a used band-aid in a can of lychees (that brand with the yellow can and drawing of red lychees) and another friend’s chika from her friend from China that Ma-Ling luncheon meat has daga…. I’m staying as far away as I can from these China made canned surprises….

    Nov 6, 2007 | 11:13 am


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