For today’s recipe, we’re going to create one of my all-time favorite Filipino dessert recipe: Buko Pandan, also known as Buko Pandan Salad. I rarely have this dessert as it’s mostly reserved for fiestas and celebrations like birthdays, Christmas, and New Year’s feast.
Buko Pandan Salad is a green gelatine concoction made out of a delicious and refreshing mixture of pandan flavored gelatin, nata de coco, strips of coconut meat, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and nestle cream. There’s also the optional sugar gelatine that can be added to the already refreshingly sweet dessert.
The ingredients used for this dessert are all undeniably Filipino that is adapted into a modern recipe. The use of flavored gelatin is largely a Western practice, given that it has its origin in Britain and is largely popular in the US. In the Philippines, gelatin is a popular dessert that can be found in practically any restaurant and can be easily cooked at home.
When I was a kid, I always thought gelatin was this magical ingredient that can only be created by adults because I had no idea what it’s made out of. Turns out, gelatin is simply made out of collagen that’s taken out of animal body parts. It’s mainly a colorless and odorless ingredient that’s extremely customizable and is a hugely popular dessert ingredient.
Back then, it’s an extremely tedious and time-consuming process to create gelatin. It’s mainly reserved for wealthier people to have gelatin in their household as it involves boiling cattle hooves for extended periods of time to produce gelatin-like products.
The very first patent for gelatin production appeared in Britain in 1754. The French did some experiments and discovered a process of producing gelatin in a more efficient and less time-consuming method which can also be distributed to the masses.
Because of this, gelatin food products became a common sight in the western world. Food brands like Jell-O in the United States, for example, are widely popular with its line of desserts and no-bake cream pies with its use of gelatin in its products.
I totally believe that we can point to the Americans as the people responsible for bringing gelatin products to the Philippines. If it wasn’t introduced to the Philippines during the American colonial era, then it was probably introduced when American culture was popularized in the Philippines through media like television and movies.
This is all speculation of course, as I can’t find any article or sources online on how Filipinos got their hands on gelatin products for the first time. The use of gelatin has become widely popular in the Philippines.
But did you know that we actually have our own version of gelatin? There is this food product called agar that’s made from seaweed. Using agar helps create a jelly-like substance that’s used for food, just like gelatin.
There’s also the nata de coco which came from fermenting coconut water which creates a gel. This process is also used with pineapples which are called nata de piña.
It should be noted that these jelly-like substances are made after being colonized by the Americans, except for agar. Agar originated from Japan which probably entered culinary cuisine when the Japanese colonized the country.
Now that we’ve gained insight into the history of gelatin and its other versions in the Philippines, let’s now dive into this homemade buko pandan recipe. We’re going to use pandan flavored gelatin and nata de coco which is the reason why I’ve gone down the internet rabbit hole of information about gelatin and am currently writing about it to share with you guys.
Anyway, these types of dessert recipes where they use gelatin always struck me as the hardest ones to cook at home but the reality is that it’s surprisingly easy. The popularity of gelatin in the Philippines makes packets of flavored gelatin packets readily available in the market. All that’s needed to be done to cook it at home is to simply follow the instructions written on the packaging.
So with that out of the way, I can easily cook buko pandan salad right at home as long as there is fresh coconut available. I love this recipe because of how easy it is to make and the ingredients are readily available at the public market. There’s going to be a lot of mixing and waiting involved in this recipe so it’s best to have patience and some arm muscles.
Once you’re done with assembling all the ingredients, all that’s left to do is chill this delicious mixture of yumminess in the fridge and leave it there for at least an hour. I love to leave this overnight to get that extra satisfaction the next day.
As always, the ingredients list and cooking instructions are listed down below. We also made a fun cooking video that features this delicious recipe so you can cook along with us. Enjoy!
- 2½ cups young Coconut meat ( Strips)
- 1 pack Gelatin pandan flavor (cook and diced)
- 1 cup nestle cream
- 1 cup condensed milk
- 1⁄2 cup of Nata De Coco
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- Sugar for gelatin (optional)
- Water for cooking gelatin
- Cook the gelatin according to its label, let it set, and dice.
- In a clean bowl mix nestle cream, condensed milk, and evaporated milk. Mix well and set aside
- Cut the gelatin into diced, add the coconut meat and mix with cream mixture.
- Serve chilled and enjoy.