Sunday, March 09, 2008

LP 24: Pastillas

Pastillas in Pangasinan is not the pastillas de leche that is so well-made in Bulacan. Pastillas refers to a candy that is wrapped similarly in wax paper or glassine, rectangular in shape, and white in color. It is also similarly sweet.

But while biting into the pastillas in the Tagalog region is biting into velvety smoothness, the Pangasinan pastillas is textured all throughout. Because the pastillas in Pangasinan is actually a bukayo - made with grated coconuts, candied with white sugar.

Be that as it may, it is not the stringy, or hard, or chokingly sweet bukayo that is so familiar to all Filipinos all over the archipelago. I would venture to say that this is the highest form of bukayo, in its most sophisticated version.

It is soft, a pillow of softness because it is made up of grated coconut, the meat not kinayod. The candied coconut has a consistent mouth feel - enough texture to be chewy, enough sugar to be crunchy, and made in such size that it just cleanses your taste buds of the flavors of your recently eaten meal, yet not so sweet that you can reach for more without feeling any guilt.

This is the favorite dessert, served on the house, of most seafood restaurants in the province, particularly and including the chain favored by the present president of the republic when she visits Pangasinan. The practice was originated by the first popular seafood house in Dagupan City, Siapno's, which has sadly closed shop.

Pastillas is made in Dagupan City, but can be found in the numerous puto kiosks lining the provincial road by the side of the town auditorium in Calasiao. Because of the low sugar to coconut ratio, it does not keep well - a maximum of a week in the refrigerator, and it turns rancid. Delivery to Calasiao is made about three times a week, and it is not found anywhere else outside of the province.

I have tried making this bukayo, but I haven't perfected it in time for Lasang Pinoy, so the recipe would have to come later. In the meantime I still source my bukayo pastillas in Calasiao.

Siapno's (not related to the owners of the restaurant) is the brand I like best when it comes to bukayo pastillas. It sells real well, so most of the time the other brands are the only ones left for sale.

There is now an ube variant, but it is more of an ube-colored version than an ube-flavored one. The original is always the best.

This is an entry to Lasang Pinoy 24: Loco Over Coco, which I am hosting for the month of February 2008, with the theme coconuts.

And with this post I am closing the event, but entries will still be accepted. Please send me the link to your post/s by email at sweet(underscore)bucaio(at)yahoo(dot)com, or at the comments section of this post or the LP24 announcement, or at the round-up which I should be able to publish within the next few days.

A big, coconutty thanks to all who participated, and hope to see you again in the next LP events!


Anonymous said...

parang masarap. i havent tried that kind of pastillas :D

Anonymous said...


Nice to see my hometown featured once again. Majority of Bucaio is made in Barangay Lasip. The barrio folk there also have expertise in firecracker making (during christmas-new year season). We used to joke that people from that place are so expert at wrapping goodies both edible and sparkling.

Oggi said...

Kai, I can't wait for the pastillas recipe, it sounds wonderful!