I watched the clock above the yellow china cabinet like a hawk.   It was two in the afternoon on another blistering summer day, very much like the day before. I was a bored eleven year old with nothing else to do. The heat left me at a loss for ideas to relieve my tenacious summer ennui.

I brushed the starched burgundy curtain aside and leaned forward to look outside the window.  The streets were all empty except for a frail, dark-skinned man who lugged a wooden cart packed with old soda bottles and newspapers piled high, hoping to get some change for an honest day’s work. I didn’t see anyone else outside, not even the four year-old who lived across the street — the kid who chased flea-ridden street mutts around.

The air was still. The wide quill-shaped leaves of our neighbor’s trees remained motionless, not even a gentle quiver. Staying at home, sheltered from the intense heat, was the best thing to do. It was the smartest thing to do. I thought about an afternoon siesta but I was simply too restless to keep my eyes shut.

I retreated to my room upstairs, which always felt like a fiery kiln in the afternoons. I shared the room with one of my sisters. Two single beds flanked a clunky desk.  It was upsetting that I didn’t have the room all to myself but it was upsetting even more that it didn’t have air conditioning.  I opened the jalousie windows, hoping to let the faintest breeze in. I sat on my bed and turned on my radio recorder. I tore a piece off the morning paper, crumpled it carelessly into a tiny ball and crammed it inside the hole at the edge of a beaten-up cassette tape.  I dialed the radio and recorded every sappy sad song I could find.  Misery indeed loved company.

I glanced at the clock on the desk. Twenty minutes past two.  Only twenty contemptible minutes had passed.  It seemed so much longer than that.  As the heat of the summer sun radiated through the wooden walls, the thought that within the next hour or so our binatog [bee-nah-tog] vendor would be peddling down our street thrilled me.  He would be hawking boiled white corn with grated coconut and sugar from his cart.  If I could only wait a little longer I could kiss my boredom goodbye.

So I waited. I waited while Carole King crooned.  I waited while Barbra Streisand belted.

Before long, I heard the familiar sharp ting of a rusty bell.  I rushed down the stairs, galloped out the door, and hailed the cart off the street. Within minutes, I was in heaven. I was in binatog heaven.

 

Binatog Recipe

1 cup boiled white hominy
1 tablespoon salted butter, melted
1 tablespoon grated coconut
1 teaspoon sugar, more to taste

Mix the boiled white corn kernels, butter, coconut, and sugar in a bowl. Add more sugar to taste.

Hominy usually comes canned but the corn kernels also come dried.  Rinse canned hominy with water and boil in a pot until kernels burst open, about 10 to 15 minutes.  When cooking with dried hominy, soak dried kernels overnight in water. Rinse, place in a pot, and cover with water. Simmer for a few hours until kernels burst open.

 

Binatog

 

How to Make Binatog (Boiled White Corn with Coconut and Sugar) is my first entry to the Kulinarya Cooking Club, a friendly group of Filipino food lovers from all around Kulinarya-Cooking-Club the world.  Each month the club assigns a theme to showcase a new Filipino dish. For the month of June, the challenge was to make something white. There’s bangus paté, chicken embutido, chicken adobo, pork adobo, pancit, fish balls, and plenty of sweets like crepe with mango and coconut tapioca filling, white chocolate and mango sans rival, leche flan, ginataang mais, ginataang bilo-bilo, tofu tiramisu cheesecake, and cassava cake.  Visit the Kulinarya Cooking Club site and Facebook page to meet the club members.

  • http://thislittlepiggywenttothemarket.blogspot.com Lala

    Babs,

    i want to be the first to comment on your first KCC post!!! i love this. havent had this in such a long time!  sarap!

    Celine

  • http://www.skiptomalou.net skip to malou

    mmm Jun Binatog.  I wish I had a childhood memory about it growing up too,. To be honest  I only  tasted binatog maybe once.  As far as I recall I loved it.  Years later I bought a cup of binatog-like in a Mexican grocery here in SoCal and it took me back to the memory of my one and only binatog day haha… glad you are sharing this recipe, at least I could make more binatog memories for myself now.  Btw, welcome to KCC!  We are honored to have you!.  (which reminds me to post my contributiion this month too hehe!)

  • http://whenadobometfeijoada.blogspot.com CarolineAdobo

    I remember those days waiting for the binatog vendor. I didn’t realize this is so easy to make, I will have to look for hominy now and make some for merienda. Welcome to Kulinarya, Jun.

  • http://www.confessionsofachocoholic.com/ Bianca Garcia

    I’ve only had binatog a few times but I remember loving it. I actually almost forgot about it and what it’ called until I read this blog post! I am going to the Philippines in a few months and I can’t wait to eat all the delicious food I’ve been craving for :)

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Oh my! I’m so excited for your upcoming trip, Bianca!  You will have so much fun. When were you there last?

  • http://twitter.com/passion4eating Kristen ♨

    I love your heartwarming story! I am intrigued by the recipe, sounds very comforting and delicious.

  • Boyet Villaueva

    the last time I had this was like 15 years ago, thanks for this post, at least i can now make it whenever I want to… :-)

  • http://twitter.com/thedailypalette The Daily Palette

    Waiting for the taho vendor in the morning, then binatog vendor in the afternoon!  I love these shared childhood memories we have!

    Jun, thanks for sharing this.  I had no idea it’s so doable.  Of course I never tried nor Googled how to.  I love mine with salt though.

  • http://oggi-icandothat.blogspot.com/ Oggi

    Ooh, I love binatog…it’s a childhood favorite with plenty of coconut and salt. Yum.

  • http://www.asianinamericamag.com Betty Ann fr Asianinamericamag

    Jun, what an enjoyable read! You described the “heat” back home so perfectly. I could almost feel it. And I could also feel your longing for the Binatog. And now I am hungry after reading this piece. I must try this recipe with the summer corn we get here. Thanks for sharing! As always, it was inspiring, my friend!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    I like it salty, too but I prefer binatog with plenty of sugar. Lots of sugar! I’m so glad we share a common childhood memory of after-school binatog snacks!

  • http://saberkite.com saberkite

    Brings back great memories of childhood. I used to wait for the binatog seller on afternoons as well. When I hear the loud clang of his bell, I’d rush out of the house yelling “binatog!”. Oddly enough, binatog then was sold with salt to taste, but in Baguio, they serve it with milk and sugar. I love both versions.

  • chef_d

    This post made me realize how much I miss binatog!  But yours looks so much more sosyal :)   Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • Ray G

    Growing up, binatog was delivered in a lot different ways.  I do remember the vendor sometimes deliver it in a wooden push cart, or sometimes in a bike with the binatog container hanging on its side.  Jun, I haven’t had binatog since I left the Philippines thirty-some years ago but this post surely brought back not only the vividly-wonderful taste of the dish but wonderful memories as well.  Thank you for sharing this post and as always — beautiful photography, which I truly admire.

  • http://chefbyday.wordpress.com/ Chef Day

    oh wow ! One of my favorite snacks ! Funny that i have not tried making it ! — maybe i enjoy eating good stuff prepared by others ? hahaha Would you know how they make it here ? Can i use fresh white corn ? then boil it ? 

  • http://www.6bittersweets.com/ Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets

    Mmm how summery and refreshing!  I’m actually going to try making macarons inspired by these flavors :)

  • http://twitter.com/riceandwheat angi

    simply lovely – i can almost feel the tropical heat (and humidity) through your words, jun. and in this chilly weather, it even warmed me up a little! i’ve never heard of binatog before but it sounds like an awesome snack. can you buy dried hominy in the asian markets?

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you, Angi.  Rainbow has dried hominy or pozole but what they have are really big grains of corn.  I bet the Mexican stores in the Mission like Casa Lucas has dried hominy.

  • Leah

    Binatog or hominy is prepared by soaking corn kernels in lye water. I’m not sure if they start with fresh or dried corn. But definitely using just plain white corn and boiling it will not give you binatog.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Leah’s right binatog is hominy and not fresh white corn.  Here’s a great link on the different varieties of corn and the different varieties of hominy, too.  http://www.foodsubs.com/GrainCorn.html

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    I’ve heard of variations where binatog’s served with milk.  Do you know if the one from Baguio is served with evaporated or condensed milk?  I’d have to try it soon!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you, Carol!  It really is so cool that we share so many things in common — things about our childhood!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Long time no duet, Celine.  We’re due for a comeback!

    Love,
    Babs

  • http://www.adorasbox.net Adora’s Box

    Your story made me sweat. I love this! We call it by a funnier name though: kinabog! You’re so lucky you can buy this in tins. I wish I could have a bowl. 

  • http://saberkite.com saberkite

    I know it’s evaporated because I would drink the milk like soup after all the corn’s gone. I haven’t tried it with condensed milk, but I’d love to try that!

  • Pingback: Ginataang Mais (Corn and Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk) | my nappytales

  • http://psychosomaticaddictinsane.wodpress.com Iyassantos

    ito ang paboritong inaabangan ni mama na ilako sa kalye namin nung bata pa ako. ako naman, fishball ang inaabangan. hayayayay! :)

  • http://foodiestation.blogspot.com/ Edelweiza

    Binatog is one of my fave childhood snacks! And I haven’t eaten one in a long time. We’d also get our fix from a “suki,” just like you. Awww, memories. :)

  • Pingback: Sour Cherries, Manila Mangoes, and Childhood Summers | Jun-Blog

  • http://twitter.com/Titaflips Tita Flips

    Thanks Jun for sharing this… brings back good old memories

  • Ollie

    Hello!  Is it possible to come up with cheese flavored binatog or any other flavor for this?  Just wondering.  Thanks! 

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thanks for writing, Ollie.  Binatog comes either sweet or salty.  Some people prefer sprinkling them with melted butter and salt.  Adding grated cheese like sharp cheddar  actually sounds good.  But I’d leave the grated coconut out.

  • donna

    pwede bang tagalog…ang hirap intindihin ng english. papano po ba talaga gawing puffed yung kernelpara maging binatog, kasi kahit ilaga ko hg ilang oras yung kernel, di naman pumuputok ang butil nya. me nilalagay po ba bago lutuin?please answer naman po..

  • teresa

    anyone na me nakakaalam ng supplier ng corn kernel for binatog?

  • Vachira Phuaklek

    You can try Mr. Binatog they sell 4 different flavors plus the original flavor.