Bukayo: Sweet memories of home

Last week I posted about my cravings for bukayo on Facebook and asked my cousins for their recipes. Bukayo is sweetened coconut candy that I used to enjoy often while I was young and living in Marinduque. We have a small coconut hill in the island and every summer my cousins and I would troop to the hill and enjoy young coconut meat and coconut juice until our stomach aches. Then we would bring some more home and make buko salad with nata de coco (jelly made from coconut water), canned cherries, fruit cocktail and insane amount of condensed milk. No wonder the blood sugar of most of us are shooting to the roof. My mom would also cook bukayo, which I would then sell at school when I was in elementary. Nowadays, I can only enjoy bukayo whenever I go home to the Philippines.

My posted generated comments and messages from my older cousins with their versions of bukayo, as well as from fellow Filipino expats in different parts of the world. But what made me smile were the fond memories of our youth that my cousins and I remembered through this Filipino candy.

Life may change all of us, we would quarrel and make up and circumstances would separate us but our big family will always be connected with the food that we shared when we were young.

When the weekend came, I spent my precious €4 (Php200) for two tiny pieces of mature coconut from Makro, cracked them crazy with a big knife, peeled their brown skin and shredded them using a carrot shredder. They looked so ugly but I was hoping they’ll taste good. Here’s the recipe that I got from my cousins:

a bowl of shredded mature coconut meat
half a bowl of brown sugar (I was told that the ratio is 2:1 of coconut meat and sugar)
water or coconut juice

First I caramelized the sugar with half a cup of water then I added the coconut meat. I just keep on stirring until the mixture became thick and sticky, I think for about 15 minutes on a very low fire. When the mixture was almost dry, I added 3/4 cup of milk and stirred for another 10 minutes. Lastly, I squeezed half a lemon and arrange the mixture on a cooking paper. Please note that I couldn’t give an exact measurements because I adjust them according to my taste. That’s how I was taught how to cook.

According to my cousins, if you want soft bukayo, you should not let the liquid dry up. After letting it cool, chill the bukayo in the fridge. Refrigerating will make it taste better.

I can’t wait to share them with my officemates.