How’s this for a blast from the past? As a child, I LOVED hopia with munggo or mung bean filling. I don’t recall ube hopias in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I suppose for a kid, the sweetish buttery munggo filling was as good as a protein rich beans were going to get. Fresh hopia purchased on occasional Sunday “paseos” to Binondo with our family were definitely a treat. As much as I loved munggo hopia, I absolutely despised hopia baboy. There was just something about this savory concoction that was a real turn-off. And now that I think about it some more, I think it was a particular Sunday, when in my single digits, I tried this version of hopia, and I got what felt like the most repulsive chunky piece of mushy slow-cooked fat in one of my bites. Without asking anyone, I just assumed it was solid fat, and I decided then and there that I would never again ate a hopia baboy… But here’s the real rub, it turns out that there isn’t much baboy in hopia baboy at all! It seems many recipes call for kundol or wintermelon cubes slow cooked in pork fat or lard. Or in the absence of kundol, sliced onions are sometimes used as an alternative. Now that I know that, maybe that silly piece of fat was in fact a very mushy piece of lard infused kundol! :)
On our recent trip to Coron, after a late afternoon visit to the market where we scored some lobsters, I was on the hunt for some real butter to make a lemon and butter sauce. We stopped at several small stores and they all carried margarine and not real butter. Finally, at one shop, the saleslady said to go find a shop named “Central Bakery” as they were the ONLY ones in town that sold real butter. After a few minutes walk/search, we located the shop and yes, they did in fact stock real butter so we got 1/2 a pound of that. While waiting for the butter to be wrapped up, I noticed a tray of somewhat unusual breads up top. The saleslady said they were hopia baboy, and wanting to overcome yet another of my childhood food biases, I purchased several of these “pastries” and started to walk back to our hotel…
I bit into one of the hopia baboys and chewed. And almost immediately that memory from some 35+ years ago came immediately rushing back. There was no big piece of “fat” in this hopia, but the smell and taste was extremely savory, and oddly, still a turn-off. I am almost certain even the dough of this hopia was made with lard, and the filling was still warm (they had emerged from the ovens less an hour earlier). I forced myself to finish the hopia, but I can tell you it’s not something I will be looking for again anytime soon. It’s so weird how certain foods can elicit such a strong and memorable reaction. And an irrational reaction at that. I mean I love pork lard in many incarnations, I like kundol, I love onions, etc. so there is no LOGICAL reason why I shouldn’t like hopia baboy… Am I the only one who feels this way? Which version of hopia is your favorite?