Fresh pinipig was an absolute revelation. I grew up in an era when Haagen Daz hadn’t yet been invented by some enterprising American who made up some glitzy Scandinavian sounding name, so my ice cream options were limited to Magnolia Drumsticks that inevitably leaked through their soggy bottoms before you ate halfway down the cone, or, better yet, Pinipig Crunch. Pinipig Crunch was a vanilla ice cream core covered in chocolate with pinipig imbedded beneath. For the longest time, this was my vision of pinipig. Turns out that this was a bad representation of a truly wonderful local delicacy — more puffed rice than real pinipig.
Pinipig is actually immature glutinous rice that is harvested and pounded into what looks more like light green flakes. The flakes are moist and redolent with a fragrance that is simply unique. They are almost the “essence” of rice. These flakes can be eaten raw but I think they are even better when toasted and used as a topping to an extravagant halo-halo (iced fruit dessert) or other traditional filipino dessert. Some restaurants used to replace pinipig with the more readily available corn flakes – yikes!
At the market recently, I picked up several hands full of fresh pinipig for just P30. Toasted up they retained their bright green (almost chartreuse) color yet were extremely crisp. They can also be fried but turn a light brown. As always, I often find that the original is hard to beat. Give me fresh pinipig any day over puffed rice or corn flakes, thanks.