on Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tahô is a Philippine snack food made of fresh soft/silken tofu, arnibal (brown sugar and vanilla syrup), and pearl sago (similar to pearl tapioca). This staple comfort food is a signature sweet and can be found all over the country. The Indonesian and Malaysian equivalent of this dish is Tahu.

The Magtatahô (taho vendor) is a common sight in the Philippines. A magtatahô carries two large aluminum buckets that hang from each end of a yoke. One of the buckets (the larger one) carries the tofu base; the other, smaller bucket holds the arnibal and sago "pearls".
Tahô vendors peddle their product in a distinctive manner, calling its name in a full, rising inflection as they walk at a leisurely pace either along the sidewalk or, in rural communities, in the middle of the road. As most magtatahô keep a habitual route, it is not uncommon for vendors to call out "Tahoooooô!" to attract a customer's attention. Though vendors are most likely to ply their routes early in the morning, it is not uncommon for a magtatahô to be spotted in the late afternoon or the evening as well. This is particularly common in the heart of Manila, most particularly by Manila Bay.
In Baguio, there is also a strawberry variety of taho, wherein strawberry syrup is used instead of arnibal. 

Other varieties are in chocolate and buko pandan flavor.
Most magtataho carry plastic cups for their product, often in two sizes (though vendors in residential communities tend to use their customers' cups and price their product accordingly). Using a wide, shallow metal sandok or scoop, they skim the surface of the bean curd and toss out any excess water, subsequently scooping the bean curd itself into a cup. Then, using a long, thin metal ladle, they scoop sago or tapioca "pearls" and arnibal into the cup, loosely mixing it in.

Tahô is enjoyed either with a spoon, sipping it with a straw, or by simply slurping it straight from the cup. Though traditionally served warm, cold varieties exist in supermarkets and in food stalls in cafeterias which have the bean curd in a solid, unbroken state. These pre-packed cups tend to contain a firmer tofu which need to be broken up and is sold either with a plastic spoon or a wooden popsicle stick.