Tuesday Temptations: Taho

4 months ago


Buying taho can be an adventure. It starts when you hear the magtataho calling out for customers early in the morning. You then scavenge for spare change and a container as quickly as you can before rushing out the door so you can still catch the peddler before he walks away from your block. As long as you can still hear the peddler’s voice, you know you still have a chance. If not, you’ll have to wait until the next morning for the taho vendor to come by again.

There’s also the thrill of watching the magtataho’s methodical gestures as he prepares your cup. First, he’ll assess your container or bowl’s size so he can set the price accordingly. If you don’t have your own container, you’ll have to settle for his stash of plastic cups. Carrying two aluminum buckets, he’ll first open the one containing the taho or silken tofu. Using a small paddle-like aluminum scoop, he’ll remove the excess liquid seeping from the top then begin layering the soft curds in your bowl. He would then move on to the other bucket containing arnibal, the amber-hued syrup. He’d stir the contents loosely before topping it with small gummy sago or tapioca pearls. You may sip the contents with a straw, slurp it down, or eat it with a spoon.

If there is one sweet breakfast that we Filipinos always crave for, it’s taho. We can trace its roots back to the Chinese douhua, a soybean pudding served on its own or with sugar syrup, which was introduced to the Philippines during the pre-Spanish era. Our version, however, uses arnibal as its sweetener with the addition of sago to add a chewy contrast to the silky texture of the tofu.

Over the years, taho has been made in different variations to cater to various tastes and trends. In Baguio, there is a version of taho made with strawberry syrup with real strawberry bits in place of arnibal. Commercial taho stalls found in malls even carry flavored silken tofu, like buko pandan and chocolate.

So, the next time you miss out on this sweet breakfast treat, don’t fret. If there’s one thing consistent with early mornings in the Philippines, it’s taho.

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