Food Box

A tray of mochi-filled banana leaf-wrapped confections
Image: wanda a. adams

Pick up a tupig — or possibly a balanghoy; sweet if a bit odd

Southeast Asians relish a sprawling family of confections made with sweet rice or sweet rice flour (mochiko) and coconut milk. In the Philippines, there are everything fromfudges to cakes, often combined with fruit or starchy vegetables or tubers (taro, cassava). Iʼve always found Mauiʼs farmerʼs markets an excellent source of homemad Filipino snack foods. Recently, I fell for two very homely snacks: one mochi-filled, one with tapioca. Theyʼre long cylinders of singed, greenish-gray stuffed and baked banana leaves — almost scary looking. Because once youʼve peeled back the singed leaf, and pick off a sticky bite, you feel as though you just scored a great (and huge) candy bar for almost nothing (theyʼre usually about 4 for $1). The tapioca version is balanghoy. But, as with much Filipino cooking, they may bear other names, because of differences in regional dialects. You can find tupig at farmerʼs markets, in delis and small shops.