02 Aug2006


On the heels of the successful palitao in the previous post, I got a bit adventurous and attempted some pichi-pichi which did place in the Top 20 Favorite Pinoy Desserts Poll of Market Manila. This was a total disaster. And this post is part griping, part warning to those who read and use bad recipes that amateurs like myself can screw up even further. The resulting nuclear green pichi-pichi was extremely photogenic and nearly inedible. We threw most of it out, in fact. I found the recipe in Reynaldo Alejandro’s glossy cookbook Authentic Recipes from the Philippines and it looked simple enough so I gave it a go…

First make some pandan water to flavor the pichi-pichi. Here is where the disaster started. pich2The recipe says to take 10 pandanus leaves (no size given), stick them in a food processor with a cup of water, blitz and strain out the solids. I went out to my tiny herb patch and cut 10 medium sized utterly fresh and fragrant pandan leaves. I washed these and put them in the food processor and blitzed them. The resulting strained juice was incredibly green and fragrant. I thought I was on my way to pichi-pichi heaven.

Next, mix 2 cups of grated cassava (washed well), ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 cup of pandan water, 2 teaspoons of lye solution (lihiya) in a bowl until dissolved. pich3Form into oblong patties and steam for about 40 minutes in a steamer lined with banana leaves. Remove and cool a bit until you can handle the patties and when still warm, roll the patties in grated coconut and serve. This all sounds utterly simple until you tasted the finished product…instead of a hint of pandan, it tasted like you were eating freshly hewn pandan leaves. I now know what flavors a cow experiences when grazing in a meadow! Let’s just say there was way too much pandan essence. And I think the recipes proportions are badly off. And look at the color of the resulting pichi-pichi!? It looks positively Martian, don’t you think? Even if I toned down the pandan, I just wasn’t bowled over by the gelatinous cassava with pandan flavor…I’d rather have the palitao, thank you. Mind you, I love cassava in other desserts…



  1. shirley says:

    Mr. MM

    I used to make pichi-pichi but without the green coloring..i just cooked a bit the cassava,sugar and water mixture in a pan first before steaming to reduce the steaming time…then roll it into the coconut…and usually i steam it individually in small moulds used in cooking puto or kuchinta…its more yummy…i havent try using lye solution in it and everybody likes it…so far hehehe….

    Aug 2, 2006 | 4:33 pm


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  3. Apicio says:

    There are more tears shed for answered prayers than for unanswered ones… St. Theresa of Avila. I think it is the same Filipino cookbook that I thought was the answer to mine for a durable hardbound one, printed on good paper and stylishly illustrated that I have silently petioned for for years to take the place of the much referred to tired cheap editions of Enriqueta David Perez and Nora Daza in my cupboard. Even the venerable Craig Clairborne pawned for it in the dust jacket blurb but as soon as I spotted a recipe for puto made out of wheat flour and for boiled beef which he called “linaga” (besides, who would ever need a recipe for this, I querried myself) off and away it joined my sister’s collection.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 7:21 pm

  4. Jacob's Mom says:

    Does anyone know how pichi-pichi is made using pinipig? A friend’s mom wrote the recipe down for me eight years ago on a post-it note, and now I can’t find it. :( It was really good, makunat-kunat. I tried making it using pandan-flavored pinipig flakes (Thai) but since I was winging it the proportions were off and although it tasted OK, it wasn’t like what I remembered. Any help would be appreciated!

    Aug 2, 2006 | 9:48 pm

  5. millet says:

    you’re on a kakanin roll, MM, so this pichi-pichi fiasco shouldn’t stop you. i make it the same way shirley does, less one or two steps – with no measurements, no lihia, and no coloring. i just make sure i put add water so that the cassava flakes look like they’re having a good swim in deep water – i guess that would be about a 1:2.5 (or even 3!) cassava-water ratio. right, that much water. it will look incredibly watery at this point, but not to worry, the cassava will swell up and gel, i assure you. add some sugar,to taste. want it to be. i don’t use pandan water. instead, i pour everything into brownie pans, to a depth of about 2 inches, stick some torn pandan leaves into the goop, and steam. when they’re done, simply use a spoon to scoop out oblongs, which you then dump straight into freshly-grated coconut. yun na!

    Aug 2, 2006 | 10:11 pm

  6. VMA says:

    MM, don’t give up, pichi-pichi is so easy to do and yummy too. I have used this recipe for a number of years. First boil 5 pieces of pandan leaves in 1 liter of water for 5 or so minutes, when you can smell the aroma. Let it cool. Combine 3 cups grated cassava, 2 1/2 cups pandan water, 1 1/2
    cups white sugar, 1/4 t salt, and 1 teaspoon lihiya. Mix thoroughly and spoon into a muffin pan or plastic puto moulds.
    Steam for 15 minutes. Cool before removing from the moulds.
    Roll in freshly grated coconuts. Hint: steamed pichi-pichi minus the grated coconut can be refrigerated for several days, and still taste good. Add the grated niyog only when ready to eat. Note: I like its natural color when cooked so no food color for me.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 10:12 pm

  7. Maria Clara says:

    I used to have a handful of those cookbooks. I will not name the author but you know which one I am talking about. The pictures in them were so inviting but when I made the recipe – following rigorously every step they wrote in and it turned out a disaster. I do not mind the expense incurred but the time spent in going over the recipe and preparation to ensure it will come out good. It is ironic especially when I prepared it for a gathering or potluck and I was counting on that food. I put those cookbooks to rest awhile ago since they are useless source of materials. I tell myself life is always a learning process for consolation!

    Aug 3, 2006 | 12:38 am

  8. Olive says:

    As VMA says, pichi-pichi is so easy to do. Everything is on a one-is-to-one proportion. So, for one cup of grated cassava, you use 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1 or 1/2 tsp lye (this gives the pichi the requisite “kunat” and if you’re using plain water, it will give your pichi the golden-yellow color). You could steam it in those leche flan llaneras and scoop it out while still warm.

    Aug 3, 2006 | 9:11 am

  9. Apicio says:

    May I share with Maria Clara and the other MM fans what mother said in reaction to a home economics supervisor aunt’s recurring culinary disasters: Test a recipe only in small quantities and don’t do the testing on the big day itself.

    Aug 3, 2006 | 9:42 am

  10. fely barcelon says:

    hi, this is great. do you have a good PUTO recipe, using
    rice galapong. thanks a lot.

    life is much easier with all your wonderful ideas and suggestions. hope you wont get tired sharing them with us. Have a nice day.

    Aug 3, 2006 | 11:05 am

  11. Gigi says:

    Amber’s pichi-pichi is THE BEST! It’s pale yellow. Also tried another champion pichi pichi that’s rolled in grated cheddar cheese…. It’s simple, unpretentious Pinoy fare. Love it….

    Aug 3, 2006 | 11:37 am

  12. izang says:

    i guess the blitzing of the pandan leaves was the start of it all…i was suprised it was even in the procedure…..

    cows in the meadow…..hehehe….ayos un ah!

    Aug 3, 2006 | 12:32 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    izang, yes, the blitzed pandan was a problem. I wonder if the author actually cooked his recipe. Gigi, where does one get this Amber’s pichi-pichi? fely, I still am on the lookout for a good puto recipe… Apicio, I’m with you, never test on guests or special occasions… that’s why I tend to do cooking sessions where I get crazed and try 4,5 or 6 different related items (say all rice based or all baked) and choose the 1 or 2 that turn out well… Hmmm, this author doesn’t seem to have many fans…I wonder how hard it is to write a cookbook… Olive, VMA and Millet, thanks for the recipes and tips!

    Aug 3, 2006 | 5:04 pm

  14. passive says:

    try arnie and dadings. their pichi-pichi is rolled in cheese, i think they also have pinipig and pandan flavors. its located along south super hiway, along cash and carry. ambers is located along filmore st.

    Aug 3, 2006 | 5:24 pm

  15. Mitch says:

    Hmmm…about the glossy book-I’m wary of cooks who list soy sauce in their adobo and garlic in their paksiw.Soy sauce is good but I like my adobo made from paombong vinegar,garlic,salt,peppercorn and a bay leaf.And I miss the pichi-pichi in Malabon where I grew up.

    Aug 7, 2006 | 1:16 pm

  16. starbuxadix says:

    Amber’s delivers : 843-8722 / 833-4729, their pichi-pichi is just satisfactory for my taste buds.. I like those that are rolled in cheese better which a friend gets from a caterer in Pasig that accepts phone-in orders/deliveries.

    Apr 25, 2007 | 7:00 am

  17. Ghia says:

    Where can I buy Amber’s pichi-pichi? appreciate any help. Thanks

    Jul 27, 2007 | 9:35 pm

  18. Marketman says:

    Ghia, the comment right before yours has their numbers, perhaps you can try calling them? :)

    Jul 28, 2007 | 8:11 am

  19. chick says:

    Amber’s pichi-pichi.. the best! Always present sa handaan esp. sa office.. or my mom would bring home like 100 pcs. tapos super bilis lang namin maubos.. hehe.. w/ coconut or cheese, masarap pa rin! =)

    Aug 16, 2007 | 3:07 pm

  20. richie says:

    I tried it with Lye . At First it was a disaster. But then I Discovered ok lang kahit small amount lang. Cooked it again ah perfect ang sarap pero mahirap i mould. really it should be with moulders para mas presentable.

    Sep 22, 2007 | 8:47 am

  21. annabelle says:

    you try to cook pitchi pitchi you know what happen i burn it even is burn is good

    Jul 11, 2008 | 8:30 am

  22. angel says:

    My mom knows how to cook pichipichi using pinipig. Tatanong ko sa knya pag-uwi ko.

    Nov 4, 2008 | 12:39 pm

  23. marissewalangkaparis says:

    This is a recipe that turned out well after one try. one cup h20,one cup grated cassava,one cup sugar.
    I placed one half of this in a square pan and steamed for 25 mins. It came out glossy and wonderful.
    I mixed some pandan flavocol into the other half (about i tsp) and steamed for 25 minutes as well.
    Both turned out so well. Hubby and sons said they were so good. I brought some to the office and they were asking for the recipe and want me to do it again.(which I will).
    I plan to reduce the sugar to 3/4 cup and probably add a bit more water to achieve the “softness” I want.
    Overall,it was good. I kept these in a pan,refrigerated and sliced small log style. I grated cheese over them…hmmmmm was so good.
    Angel,want to try your pinipig pichi ichi.

    Nov 19, 2008 | 5:19 pm

  24. mye says:

    it looks alright. i’ve never seen a martian. the guy i know who could be from martian isn’t green….he’s red =P

    Jan 8, 2009 | 4:59 am

  25. mikhaela alejo says:

    cooooooooooooooooooooooooooool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! green my favorite color sa investigatory project of mine cause its sooooooo coool i cant believe i made it once ssssssooooooooooooooooooo deliz cute foooood by the way so cooool and awesome

    Jan 16, 2009 | 5:53 pm

  26. Johpao says:

    An aunt of mine gave me her recipe and it called for I believe a 5:3:3:3:3 ratio…It was for a huge batch! 5 lbs cassava, 3 cups water, 3 cups sugar, 3 spoons vanilla, 3 spoons lye. We greased cake pans and steamed them until they set.

    Mar 7, 2009 | 12:24 am

  27. Lianne Generoso-Villaran says:

    Try tasting pichi-pichi made by The Brown Derby. Light and soft, simply delicious!

    Sep 4, 2009 | 4:08 pm


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