Tupig, also known as intemtem, is a rice delicacy or kakanin that originated in the northwestern part of the Philippines, particularly the province of Pangasinan and the Ilocos region. These places are also where this sweet rice delicacy is the most popular and became their specialty kakanin. This is very evident whenever I’ve traveled to that part of the country on a bus. At every stop, local vendors will get on the bus and sell Tupig and other kakanin as snacks or pasalubongs to the passengers.
It may not look like much and at first glance, it seems like any other kakanin from any other part of the Philippines. I got my first taste of tupig during a particularly long journey to the Pangasinan area where I badly needed a snack. Lo and behold, a local vendor got on the bus and announced “Tupig! Tupig pasalubong!”
I bout a couple when he reached my seat. Again, it looked like a typical Filipino kakanin. The tupig is wrapped in banana leaves with the rectangular shape that many Filipinos are familiar with. Each region in the Philippines has its specialty kakanin resulting in a multitude of rice delicacies throughout the country. It’s considered one of the known truly authentic Filipino cuisines with evidence of ancient tribes in the Philippines offering kakanin to their gods.
To find out more about the different kakanins throughout the Philippines, I recommend you check out these two articles:
Tupig has most likely been an original recipe by the northern tribes of the Philippines. Luckily, the Spanish colonizing the Philippines didn’t wipe out the many kakanin recipes found throughout the archipelago. Of course, I’m sure that many of them were modified and is a different version of the original but the Filipino essence of the recipe is still there.
Anyway, after unwrapping the tupig, I quickly took a bite and the delicious sweetness of the coconut flavor was evident even then. I noticed that the parts of the tupig were charred which I thought was odd at first, I got used to eating kakanin that were smooth or fluffy in their texture, if not sticky. But I quickly got used to this new texture and eventually liked the slightly burnt coconut flavor of the tupig’s charred part.
I finished the two tupig I’ve brought and was quite disappointed when I realized the vendor already got off the bus.
So naturally, being the curious person I am, I quickly searched up the recipe for it. Determined to duplicate the sweet rice delicacy I’ve just eaten at home. I found out online that tupig was, of course, made up of glutinous rice, young coconut strips, and sesame seeds wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over charcoal. So that’s why there were charred parts on the kakanin.
Tupig was said to be only prepared and sold during the Christmas season and was given as a sweet treat to carollers during the old days. But over the years, the kakanin has been seeing commercial success and eventually became so popular that it’s sold everywhere in Pangasinan and the Ilocos Region. Different flavors were also developed like ube, jackfruit, pandan, and even strawberry. All of which I got to try on my next visit to the northern part of the Philippines.
But I wanted to replicate the original sweet coconut flavor first before exploring onto other versions. I went ahead and bought some coconuts (both young and mature), malagkit flour, molasses for the sweetness, and a small pack of sesame seeds. I also got some wilted banana leaves and brown sugar at home.
I got the sesame seeds toasted, stripped the young coconut’s meat, and extract coconut milk from the mature coconut and strained. I then added the rest of the ingredients in the coconut milk and mixed everything well until it’s turned into a batter. Pour the batter in ¼ strips on the banana leaves, wrap, and seal the ends by twisting or using smaller strips of banana leaves as ribbons.
The last thing to do is bake this over a small bed of hot charcoal which I did in our backyard. A barbeque grill will do and it’ll only take 15 to 20 minutes over the bed of hot charcoal.
I’m very delighted that I got the result that I wanted. A somewhat crispy tupig, with a soft and chewy center. The flavor is deliciously sweet. And now, I don’t have to get to Pangasinan or Ilocos whenever I’m craving this sweet kakanin.
- 4 pcs mature coconut shredded
- 1 pc young coconut shredded
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 4 cups water
- 1 kg malagkit flour
- banana leaves wilted
- 3/4 cup molasses
- Extract coconut milk from mature coconut by adding water and squeezing out gata or coconut milk.
- Strain and set aside.
- Add remaining ingredients to coconut milk.
- Mix well.
- Pour 1/4 cup batter on wilted banana leaves, roll and seal ends.
- Bake over live charcoal 15 to 20 minutes or until done.