05 Aug2006


I am almost embarrassed or chagrined to admit that I now often feel like a tourist in my own native cuisine. Ever since I started Market Manila, I have learned so much more about local ingredients and dishes, but the more I learn, the more apparent it becomes that I know so little indeed. What is obvious is that I have absolutely taken things food things for granted for the better part of 40 years. I have eaten hundreds of bibingkas, tons of puto, cuchinta and sapin-sapin, and yet I have never seen it made nor have I made them myself. When those terrific delicacies showed up on our table(s), they were always delivered with freshly grated coconut (yup, I could figure what that was, though if you asked me to pick out a coconut at just the right stage of maturity to make the perfect grate, I would have failed miserably), and latik. I always assumed latik was caramelized coconut meat with sugar…duh. I never had reason to wonder otherwise.

So the other day I was making a dessert (up next) that needed some latik and I decided to make some for myself. Most cookbooks I referred to just said…make some latik for the latik2topping of the dessert, as if everyone on the entire bloody planet knew how to do that. Duh, was I clueless or what? So I asked our cook, who hails from the midst of a vast coconut plantation, to teach me how to make some latik and she pulled out a little saucepan, put freshly squeezed coconut milk we made from freshly grated coconut from the market, about the milk from 2 coconuts, and turned the heat up to medium high. She kept stirring it for over 15, perhaps up to 20+ minutes as the milk turned into oil and suddenly, miraculously, these solids formed at the top of the fat and as soon as they turned a slightly golden color they were extracted and voila! – LATIK. Yipes, that was simple. And no, I had never seen this done before.

I make know how to caramelize brown sugar with a blowtorch on a crème brulee but this is the first latik I have ever made. And the process was fascinating…it shows you just how many uses there are for the coconut tree and nut. It was like watching the raft floating in a bubbling broth that clears out the impurities from a consommé properly. I am told that the resulting purish coconut oil is what one applies to your hair to get a nice sheen (eeew, talk about pungent oily smell and feel of Hawaiian Tropic suntan lotion on your head). Or on the farm, one doesn’t buy Wesson or Baguio oil, you just use this coconut oil from the coconut milk to fry your fish in… The taste is nutty, sweet, coconutty and distinct. It has no added sugar. This differs from the latik that is more like a sweet sauce served with fried breadfruit back in my mom’s ancestral home town in Bohol…I need to figure out how to make that version which is superb served with fried breadfruit!



  1. izang says:

    the oil really is good for the hair…a natural hot-oil…we use it often when we were kids…only, you must apply it on one’s hair on a friday afternoon, so you have two days to wash the smell out…

    or risk being asked if you’re a manananggal….hehehe….in the movie shake, rattle and roll I, maria isabel lopez was shown lathering herself with coconut oil….then lo and behold, she was a manananggal….another use for the oil di ba….hehehe….

    Aug 5, 2006 | 12:38 pm


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  3. Jean says:

    ;) Shows you how little we know about our own cuisine.. or how well hidden it is.

    Aug 5, 2006 | 1:38 pm

  4. Bay_leaf says:

    ah, memories from a long time ago but i can still smell that sweet fresh coconut oil…and i do remember my lola frying bananas in them.

    the standard joke when one applied this to one’s hair in the province was, “daku mo’g kalubian, no?” lol. :)

    Aug 5, 2006 | 3:09 pm

  5. Danney League says:

    Ang Lelang Pinang ko used to cook kalamay kuhit with alot of latik. Lelang Pinang’s kalamay kuhit is part of my Dichoso, Ramos, Tatlonghari, Umandap and League legacy but lately unti unti ng nakakalimutan ng lahi namin. I want to retain it and keep it in our family history. My Lelang coooked excellent pochero too with mashed banana as a sauce and again it is fading within our family legacy. Everytime we buy kalamay kuhit or pochero we suddenly remember the good moments we all shared with Lelang Pinang.

    Aug 6, 2006 | 6:05 am

  6. honey says:

    when I was a kid, we used to make our own cookng oil using this process. ‘d tkae the latik, put sugar on it and eat it as a snack. mmm…

    Aug 6, 2006 | 6:40 am

  7. erleen says:

    actually you can also use the leftover grated coconut(yes, those that you’ve already squeezed) and just toast it on a pan until golden brown. usually used for maja blanca topping.

    Aug 6, 2006 | 11:56 am

  8. CecileJ says:

    Yup, Erleen! The toasted grated coconut is sweeter and less oily than latik! More to my taste and I eat it, with or without the maja!

    Aug 7, 2006 | 8:31 am

  9. Ria says:

    I think the toasted grated coconut is called “budbod”. Anyone else have a name for that?

    Aug 7, 2006 | 12:44 pm

  10. MasPinaSarap says:

    When my mom was growing up they made this and would save the oil to moisturize their hair and skin. :)

    Aug 8, 2006 | 11:18 am

  11. Sally says:

    hi …. can i make latik out of coconut milk in can?

    Dec 19, 2006 | 4:04 am

  12. Marketman says:

    Sally, I have never tried making it from a can. You can go ahead and experiment as the cost of failure is simply one can of coconut milk…post the results if you go ahead and try it…

    Dec 19, 2006 | 5:51 am

  13. Frau says:

    I had been to a party the other day. They had casava cake with latik on top. I remembered watching my mother make the latik – but I never knew what it was called. I recall putting it on just about every dessert. So I tried to make it from memory – a memory that had aged more than twenty plus years.
    I failed.
    I searched the internet and arrived at your page. I have been here before when I was looking for an image of camachile.
    Your remark about every cookbook always having the “you make the latik”, is very true.

    Sep 24, 2007 | 1:19 am

  14. tess says:

    Budbod means to sprinkle. When people say “dagdagan mo ng budbod” means to sprinkle more latik on top. Latik is defined in the tagalog-english dictionary as the scum of coconut milk after cooking and extracting the oil.

    Dec 6, 2007 | 12:33 pm

  15. Susan says:

    I found this page because I am looking for a recipe on how to make the latik. I am surprized to find out that latik is the sweet coconut usually used as a maja blanca topping. Now, what do you call the brown sauce on top of the nilatikan then? And how do you make it? because this is what I’m looking for.

    Mar 9, 2008 | 5:38 am

  16. Marketman says:

    Susan, the sauce you are referring to is also called latik, served with fried breadfruit in some places, like bohol and cebu. The saucy latik is made with coconut milk and palm sugar. Here is a post that describes it.

    Mar 9, 2008 | 6:27 am

  17. Grace says:

    hi. can you send me pls pls pls pls the ingredients of calamay? i want to make one or hundreds.. pls pls pls.. i really love calamay so much spcly from bohol. Hoping and waiting for your reply

    Thank you so much
    God bless you

    Apr 16, 2009 | 11:55 pm

  18. Grace says:

    you can send it to my email add pinkygrace2002@yahoo.com

    Thank you very much again.
    Cant wait to make and eat calamay!

    Apr 16, 2009 | 11:56 pm


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