This the season for merry-making and giving. Christmas is just around the corner and the excitement is palpable in the air. Of course, for us Filipinos, we’ve been anticipating the holidays, rather than celebrating the holidays, since the start of September. So our Noche Buena and the New Years’ Eve Feast is the creme de la creme of the holiday celebrations.
I’m anticipating that this year’s Noche Buena and New Year’s Eve Feast will be a little different for everyone because of the year we all experienced. Large celebrations will be on the back burner and I personally know a lot of people will opt to have just their immediate families and those in their households attending their holiday celebrations. But that won’t stop anyone from going all out with their preparing the Filipino dishes.
And what should not be missing from Noche Buena and the New Year’s Eve feast? Desserts! There are tons of Filipino desserts out there but here’s one of my favorites that I wanted to share with you.
This one’s a budget recipe that’s perfect for the holiday season. It has the colors, the different shaped ingredients, the sweetness that all Filipinos love, and it’s incredibly delicious. The colorful look of this Filipino dessert perfectly embodies the holiday season. Plus, it won’t put a dent in your wallet. This creamy jelly corn sago salad will just be the cherry on top that doesn’t require big spending to add to the menu.
The ingredients for this dessert recipe are classic Filipino ingredients that are also typically found in other Filipino dessert salads. Filipino salad recipes for fiestas, unlike typical salads around the world, are eaten for dessert and include lots of sugar. So they are not the healthiest salad recipe out there but they are definitely the most delicious and satisfying to eat.
Check out these other Filipino desserts that are perfect for the holidays:
We shouldn’t forget about this delicious jelly, corn, & sago salad. The ingredients for this recipe are easily bought in grocery stores and public markets. Plus, they’re staples of cooling roadside beverages in the Philippines known as palamig. They’re not hard to miss. Just look for colorful containers of liquid on the streets of the Philippines and treat yourself with these cool beverages.
We’ll take a closer look at two of the ingredients for this Filipino salad recipe: gelatin and sago.
Gelatin is actually a European ingredient said to have originated from medieval Britain in the 15th century. This first version of the present-day delicious jelly we know and love is only made for nobles with money. The gelatin in medieval Britain was made from boiling cattle hooves for an extended period of time. This was a laborious and time-consuming process, a luxury that only those in wealthier households can afford.
The elite class in medieval Britain serve gelatin to guests in the form of aspics, desserts, and salads. It’s a sign of wealth that a household can afford a skilled household staff that can spend hours to create such dishes.
Through the centuries, the process of making gelatin has evolved due to experiments from the French. This made gelatin an accessible source of protein for poorer households in France.
Gelatin was used in multitudes of different foods in France and the US during the 19th century. It gained huge popularity for its versatility in many different food applications, especially in the US where it’s known as Jell-O.
The gelatin we’re using in this recipe is very similar to gelatin. A lot of Filipinos interchange gelatin with a staple Filipino ingredient known for its jelly-like consistency and colorful appearance, gulaman. Yes, there is a difference.
Gulaman, unlike gelatin which is made from animal products, is made from agar that can be extracted from red algae. It’s a widely popular vegetable counterpart to gelatin. Although not many Filipinos are aware of the difference.
Agar was first discovered in Japan in 1658 by an innkeeper named Miro Tarōzaemon from what is currently now known as Fushimi-ku, Kyoto. According to legend, Tarōzaemon discarded leftover Tokoroten, or seaweed soup, and noticed later that the soup turned jelly-like after a winter night’s freezing.
There are no records on the events that happened after that initial discovery but the use of agar as a gelling agent in food spread over several Southeast Asian countries over the following centuries.
On a side note, agar also happened to become a very useful medium in the field of microbiology since the late 19th century.
Because of the lack of records on how agar arrived in southeast Asian countries, it’s anyone’s guess on how the Filipinos got ahold of this ingredient that is now a staple ingredient in the Filipino dessert scene.
I’m gonna take a shot in the dark and guess that the Chinese got agar from Japan and traded it with ancient Filipinos in turn. There were established trading routes between China and the Philippines. So China probably acted as the middle man in introducing agar to the Philippine islands.
It’s hard to imagine what our desserts would be like without this delicious and colorful jelly substance. In Filipino cuisine, gulaman is commonly brought in its powdered form that’s already flavored and colored.
Now let’s tackle the second ingredient, sago.
I used to have no idea where sago came from or what it’s even made out of. All I knew was that it was always chewy part of taho in kuya mananaho’s container. Now after years of using the ingredients in various Filipino recipes and some research, I came to find out that sago pearls are native to Southeast Asia.
Sago pearls are literally just starch balls extracted from sago palms native to Southeast Asia. These sago pearls are extracted from the plant’s trunks just before the plant is ready to flower. The earliest known record of sago pearls came from the Kingdom of Brunei noted by a Chinese historian during the Song Dynasty.
I usually buy sago pearls through our public market in my hometown. They sell them by the kilo. I rarely see them at supermarkets and there are online sellers but I prefer to buy sago pearls that I can see in person to make sure they’re in good condition.
I highly recommend getting the small sago pearls for Filipino recipes and desserts. But if you’re making homemade bubble tea I recommended opting for the larger size sago pearls.
Cooking the sago pearls can get tricky. Don’t wash the sago pearls, instead pour them directly in a pot of already boiling water. Soaking them too long in water and waiting for them to boil will dissolve the starch.
The already boiling water will readily cook the sago pearl’s outer layer, causing it to harden and preventing the starch inside from dissolving. Boil the sago pearls for 15 minutes, take them out of the pot and let it rest for at least 5 minutes so that its core is properly cooked.
DO NOT RINSE SAGO PEARLS WHEN TAKING IT OUT OF THE BOILING POT. This will disturb the cooking process.
When properly done, we’ll be rewarded with perfectly translucent sago pearls, ready to put into our desserts.
The preparation for this jelly, corn, and sago salad does take some time. But other than that, everything is a piece of cake. We’re going to use three different flavors of powdered gulaman as our jelly in this recipe: red, mango, and buko pandan. Simply follow the instructions on the packaging and we’re good to go. We do need to shred them for the dessert.
All of the ingredients that we need for this recipe are listed down below. The only things that need some cooking are the sago and gulaman. Then it’s only a matter of assembling and chilling them in the refrigerator.
For the complete instructions on how to make this delicious dessert recipe, scroll down below. We also made a fun video so you can cook along.
Serve this jelly, corn, & sago salad to your loved ones this holiday season. Enjoy!
- 1 pack (25g) Red Gelatin Powder
- 1 pack (25g) Mango Flavored Gelatin Powder
- 1 pack (25g) Buko Pandan Flavored Gelatin Powder
- 1½ cups of Sugar
- 12 cups Water
- 1 pack All-Purpose Cream
- 1 Big Can Condensed Milk
- 1 small can Evaporated Milk
- 1 Big Can Whole Kernel Corn
- 1 cup small sago
- In a pot combine 1 pack gelatin powder, ½ cup sugar and 4 cups of water. Stir to dissolve. Turn on the stove and stir over medium heat until it boils. Pour into a mold and let it cool to set.
- Repeat the same process in making Mango Flavored Jelly and Buko Pandan Jelly. After it set shred the jellies or cut it into strips.
- In a bowl combine all-purpose cream, condensed milk and evaporated milk. Mix well.
- Add sweet whole kernel corn into a shredded jellies.
- Pour the milk mixture and mix well.
- Add small Sago. Mix well
- Chill in the ref before serving.
- Serve and enjoy the jelly salad.
Creamy & Super SARAP Jelly, Corn & Sago Salad | Budget Dessert Recipe for Christmas & New Year