As a child, my playmates and I used to sing 'puto-kutsinta, malutong, masarap malata! (a nursery rhyme sung in praise of delicious puto and kutsinta. Kutsinta is an all time favorite Filipino snack or breakfast food originally made from rice flour, sugar, lye water, and achuete (annato) seeds for coloring, served with grated fresh coconut...
The word 'Kutsinta' comes from the Chinese word 'Kueh Tsin Tao'. The word 'Kueh' in Hokkien language means a little cake or cookie for snack, more often steamed than baked. Hokkien originated from a dialect in Southern Fujian, China where most of our early Chinese ancestors came from.
The earliest date known for direct Chinese trade with the Philippines was around the 9th century (at the turn of the Sung and Tang dynasty). Since then kutsinta in its early form has been around. Serving it with grated coconut is a Filipino adaptation later on.
Another Chinese snack that the Chinese merchants introduced at that time was 'kueh putu' (steamed rice cake) which later became our favorite 'puto'. Thus, we have the popular 'puto-kutsinta' snacks served together.
Ancient trade with the Chinese was always carried out wholesale with incredibly low price (bagsak presyo!). None of the trading ships came with the aim to conquer or declare war. Instead the Chinese simply harmlessly traded beautiful jars, ceramics and silk with a big friendly smile.
And for the hungry customers they introduced their delicious noodle soups (mami, lomi,etc) pansit canton, bihon, sotanghon, pritong tokwa, lumpia, hopia, tikoy, siopao and many, many other things--including puto and kutsinta.
Here is my recipe of kutsinta featured in my Gulay ebook 2.
2 c flour
1 c sugar
3 c water
2 tsp lihia (lye water)
1 tsp achuete water (annato seeds or powder soaked in water)
1-2 tsp vanilla
grated fresh coconut
1. In a mixing bowl, mix together flour and sugar.
2. Slowly pour water, mix well to avoid lumps. Add lye water, achuete water and vanilla. Mix.
3. Pour in molds. Steam for 10 minutes. Serve with grated fresh coconut.
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