December 29, 2010


tapay (ta-páy; Maranao snack) [n.] fermented rice in leaf wrapper. It is prepared using ordinary rice that is boiled (either in plain water or in coconut milk) in a process similar to cooking kanin (cooked rice). Some yeast is added to the freshly cooked rice, and then it is molded into a big mound and allowed to cool and ferment for one to two days in a deep platter or any covered container. It is kept undisturbed until it starts to ferment. 

The ongoing fermentation process would cause tapay to emit a liquor-like odor and taste. A scoop of tapay is taken out and spread on a freshly cut banana leaf (or the wide leaves of alum tree). It is spread thin and flattened well into a big square or rectangular shape. The leaf is then folded on both ends to serve as wrapper. Fermentation continues in the folded leaf.

A serving of tapay (click photo to enlarge image).
To serve tapay, the leaf is opened and the tapay inside it is transferred into a deep bowl. A milk solution is prepared using chilled coconut cream (if not available, chilled fresh milk or evaporated milk is used) some amount of crushed ice (or pieces of cube ice or tube ice will do) is added with some condensed milk as sweetener. The ice-cold milk solution is poured in the bowl and mixed well with the tapay. Then tiyolo (pounded roasted grated coconut meat) with brown sugar is added in the mixture to give tapay a distinct aroma and flavor.

When done, tapay is all ready to be eaten. If it is your first time to have tapay, you would mistook its smell as that of spoiled rice, especially if tiyolo is not yet added in the mixture. But it is not spoiled at all. It is the natural smell of the fermenting rice. 

When tasted, it is sweetish and has distinct smell and taste of liquor, which is actually the lace of alcohol produced by the tapay’s fermentation process.

Photos show tapay wrapped in alum leaves. These ones are sold in the Pier Area in Cotabato City
A Muslim Maranao selling tapay at the entrance gate of the Golden Mosque in Quiapo Manila during the observance of Eid al Fitr or the end of Ramadan or Maulidin Nabi.

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