I’ve always been proud of Filipino food. I’ve always believed that if people tried the food that we Filipinos ate on a daily basis (ably prepared by our mothers and titas), people would be addicted too! Filipino cuisine is influenced by the food cultures from China, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Spain. We also have a very pronounced American influence. These influences are due to the fact that the Malays an Indones were the early settlers on the Philippine islands and it has been historically proven that we traded with the Chinese very early on. The Spanish (and largely Mexican food tradition) influences came because the Philippines was a Spanish colony for over 300 years (the Philippine islands were named after King Philip II of Spain). Then after the Spanish, we had the Americans with us…for a while.
I am so thankful that there are enterprising individuals (who may or may not be Filipino) who have identified an opportunity to sell to Filipinos living overseas the food staples. I’ve been able to cook Filipino food here in England and it helps the homesickness.
But nothing compares to the satisfaction when one is able to make something that isn’t always available in the Oriental or Filipino supermarkets. A few days ago, whilst I was recuperating from a really bad migraine (I was signed off for a week), I told myself that I would make hopia. I had been watching various YouTube video how-to’s and I felt that I was ready to attempt the Filipino treat. I even risked eating store-bought hopia in the name of research! Mind you, it was a tad disappointing because the hopia I bought seemed to have shrunk! For what I paid for, well, it was an exhorbitant amount of money for 4 minuscule hopia pieces – not at all what I remembered eating when I was growing up!
Hopia is also known as bakpia (in Chinese). It is a bean paste-filled pastry that was apparently introduced by Fujianese immigrants in the Philippines. It is usually filled with mung bean paste (either red mung bean or yellow mung bean), or purple yam and there is a variant that is filled with candied wintermelon (called kundol in the Philippines). Apparently, in other countries (apparently this is a popular Indonesian treat as well!) the fillings can be pineapple, durian, cheese, chocolate, coffee and custard! I’ve never had a cheese hopia, but it certainly sounds interesting!
I painstakingly wrote down the recipe from all the YouTube videos and translated it into metric measurements. Then I set about making my hopia!
I was quite excited about how they looked like. Even more excited when they came out of the oven. I loved the smell that wafted out of the oven. I was definitely in hopia heaven!
I need to practice some more. I think the pastry is nearly there. A few more tweaks with the procedure and a few temperature adjustments will help. But what I’ve been allowing myself to eat is hopia. It’s not as sweet as the store-bought ones, but it is, already, hopia!