Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kesong Puti: The Philippines’ Contribution to the World of Cheese

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Kesong Puti (white cheese) is a local delicacy in the Philippines. Cheeses are famous all over the world with each country having their own unique cheese. I recently read an article about Roquefort cheese in France and was curious to know more about how it was made and why it’s so expensive. This made me think about what type of cheese the Philippines has to offer to the world. This brings us to Philippines’ very own Kesong Puti.

Kesong puti is a type of fresh cheese made from un-skimmed carabao’s milk, salt, and rennet (a natural enzyme produced in the stomach of a carabao) or vinegar. Carabao’s milk is similar to cow’s milk but I find it richer in a sense that it’s got a creamier aftertaste. It’s a lot thinner than cow’s milk in texture but don’t let that fool you, it can be really filling. The milk is not pasteurized. It is sifted several times through a cheese cloth. It is then molded, wrapped in banana leaves then stored in the refrigerator. It usually has a shelf life of about a week. Kesong puti mostly come from the provinces of Laguna and Bulacan in the Luzon area, Cebu City in the Visayas and even Samar has gotten into producing Kesong puti.

Carabaos (water buffalos) are better known as the working mule of the Philippines. They help farmers plow the lands, especially with rice paddies. Growing up I used to take long trips out of the city on summer vacations with my family and carabaos plowing the fields had always been part of the natural scenery along the way. I forget how beautiful they are and how much a part of Philippine history, culture and cuisine they have been and still are.

Kesong puti is eaten with lightly toasted pandesal (the Philippines’ local bread, I’ll get more into detail about it later on) with butter. The cheese has the tendency to be a tad salty and the bread balances the taste. Filipinos often have this for breakfast or merienda (afternoon snack) with hot chocolate or coffee. It’s also known as the Filipino mozzarella. Kesong puti when toasted can be just as chewy as mozzarella but not stringy. I was half expecting it to stretch the last time I had it which was yesterday. I also love having it wrapped in lumpia (spring rolls) wrapper then deep frying it. It’s my very own mozzarella sticks ala spring rolls. Delicious! My dipping sauce is mayonnaise mixed with a bit of ketchup. A real gastronomic delight.

1 Response to Kesong Puti: The Philippines’ Contribution to the World of Cheese

December 5, 2014 at 4:15 AM

I mix it with my salad greens in the same way that I would use feta cheese.

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