MANILA, Philippines – Filipino cuisine has a wealth of flavors, making it a true playground for chefs, home cooks, and foodies – even and especially dessert purveyors and ice cream makers.
Over the years, we’ve seen some truly curious iterations of ice cream in the Philippines – green mango sorbet with bagoong from Sebastian’s, Bicol’s famous chili ice cream from 1st Colonial Restaurant, or sampaguita ice cream from Ilustrado.
But why stop there? With so many flavors and textures in our cuisine, Filipino ice cream can get even weirder – and more wonderful.
We asked Rappler readers about which Filipino foods and flavors they’d love to taste as an ice cream, and people got creative – really creative.
From native fruits to kakanin to bizarre but intriguing ulam, here are just some of the uniquely Filipino ice cream flavors we’d love to see:
Fruits are the obvious choice when it comes to Filipino ice cream flavors, and there are already many out there: the aforementioned green mango sorbet, for instance, or sampinit berry ice cream.
Most mainstream ice cream brands are sure to have at least a handful of Filipino fruit flavors in their catalog. Local juice stall Fruitas even offers a variety of fruit combinations in ice cream form – mango-banana, strawberry-calamansi, even four seasons.
Adding to these already-existing flavors, one Instagram commenter suggested lemongrass, atis, or mangosteen as flavors. Designer Rajo Laurel suggested chico (also pastillas). Another person thought of kaimito (star apple).
On Facebook, one commenter suggested lanzones or rambutan, which would probably make really good sorbets. Another brought up the weird-smelling marang, as well as the sweet and creamy guyabano.
With such a rich fruit landscape here in the Philippines, the possibilities are practically endless when it comes to ice cream flavors.
Another obvious source of inspiration for Filipino ice cream flavors is kakanin – different types of sweets made of sticky rice.
A puto bumbong flavor already exists c/o Sebastian’s – and they serve it topped with shaved coconut and muscovado sugar, just like when you get puto bumbong freshly made at your go-to stall after church.
Aside from that, practically any kakanin can work as an ice cream. Bibingka (topped with coconut, cheese, and salted egg, of course), suman (laced with latik), and maja blanca all came up as suggestions, and in fact, we would like to see the ice cream versions of these ASAP.
A lot of commenters also turned to merienda for ice cream inspiration.
A number of people thought of taho, and we get it. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of chasing the neighborhood taho vendor down the street with your favorite mug in tow, and partaking of the warm soy pudding topped with rich arnibal (brown sugar syrup) and chewy sago (tapioca pearls), in a ratio customized to your liking.
We’re happy to report that in fact, taho ice cream already exists via The Lost Bread, with classic, strawberry, and ube variants available.
Binatog is another Pinoy merienda staple that some people think would make a good ice cream. It’s easy to see how the snack – boiled white corn kernels topped with coconut shavings, condensed milk, butter, and a pinch of salt – would do well as a creamy frozen dessert.
Champorado is a rainy day favorite that necessitates a summer-ready version (read: ice cream). The rich chocolate rice pudding, often topped with dried fish, is a beloved Filipino flavor that so many people suggested it as ice cream. Fortunately, champorado-flavored ice cream already exists! The Lost Bread, Sebastian’s, and Elait all offer their versions of this ice cream.
One surprisingly popular response was balut. Yes, some people actually think that boiled duck embryo would make a good ice cream flavor, but actually, the savory soup and creamy yolk might just work in frozen dessert form.
Ulam (entrees) as ice cream is not completely unheard of. The Lost Bread has already turned Ate Rica’s famous Bacsilog into a cheese-and-bacon-flavored delight. Still, Pinoy ulam-inspired ice cream remains to be mostly uncharted territory – one that maybe only the most adventurous foodies can conquer.
As suggested by one Twitter user, laing – made of gabi leaves, chili, and creamy coconut-milk – might just be the easiest ulam to transform into ice cream.
A surprising number of people also responded with dinuguan (pork blood stew), though we think it will take an expert chef to translate the stew’s rich, savory, slightly acidic flavors into an edible ice cream.
Since we are talking about Filipino food, adobo and sinigang were of course brought up. We’re not quite sure how adobo – meat stewed in vinegar, garlic, and soy sauce – would fare as an ice cream flavor, but sinigang with its tangy flavors might just work as a sorbet.
Which of these imagined (and real!) ice cream flavors would you try, and which of them would you not even touch with a 10-foot pole? Sound off in the comments! – with reports from Amanda Lago/ Rappler.com
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