I’ve been staring at a blank screen for the past few days, trying to compose in my mind what to write for this post.  I thought I had it all figured out: a tribute to my mother and her favorite buko pandan. A tribute to the strikingly green gulaman and the fragrant pandan. A tribute to the long, thin strips of young coconut and chewy nata de coco all dressed in cream and condensed milk. I thought writing the requisite Mother’s Day post would be easy but, obviously, I was wrong.

I could just write to tell you about how I’ve been enjoying my mom’s visit. About how I’ve been enjoying coming home every day to her home cooking that I have so longingly missed. Bistek, caldereta, mechado, daing na bangus and all the good stuff. But I wouldn’t be completely honest with you if I left out the part about my worries. I have become my mother when it comes to worrying. We are clearly cut from the same cloth. Worrying is what we do and we do it so well.

I worry about my mother a lot. About her getting older, about her health. About having my own life separate from hers. A heavy cloud of guilt hovers above my head all the time. A feeling of guilt that we’re thousands of miles apart and our mother-and-only-son relationship has been reduced to once-a-week twenty-minute hurried phone calls and once-a-year two-month condensed visits. As much as I enjoy having my mom around, her visits quickly turn into some form of inconvenience — an interruption in my life. Two months is a long time! There, I said it. Two months together under one roof is a long time but I don’t think we have any other choice given that we don’t have the luxury of money and time for more frequent visits.

I know, I am too foolish to dwell on such insignificant inconveniences. Life is too short to be constantly worried about such little things. There are so many things to be thankful for and I am. I truly am. Thankful for her good health at seventy five. Thankful for her getting along well with Dennis. Thankful for her home cooking. Thankful for her buko pandan.


Buko Pandan Recipe, makes 6 to 8 servings

2 3-ounce packages Alsa green, unflavored gulaman
4 pandan leaves, washed and tied into a simple knot
1 12-ounce jar nata de coco, drained
1 16-ounce bag frozen, shredded young coconut, thawed and drained
1/2 cup Nestlé cream
1/3 cup condensed milk

Prepare gulaman according to package instructions. Dissolve gulaman in a pot of water, add pandan leaves, and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove pandan leaves and pour gulaman into two 8×8-inch glass baking pans. Once gulaman has set, cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Combine gulaman, nata de coco, young coconut, cream, and condensed milk in a large bowl and mix well. Serve chilled.

Buko Pandan

Buko Pandan

  • http://www.asianinamericamag.com/ Betty Ann @Mango_Queen

    Lovely post and even lovelier photos! You captured all the emotions we all feel when our parents come to visit. You are blessed to have your Mom still healthy and strong to visit. Thanks for sharing this favorite dessert recipe, Jun. My sons will love this when I try your recipe. All the best to you & your family!

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

    My dad knows I love buko pandan but we never make it at home so he always makes special trips to Pampanga and buys a gallon of special buko pandan there! I must’ve eaten it almost every day when I was home over the holidays. Happy Mother’s Day to your mom! Glad to hear you are having a wonderful time with her visit :)

  • Cdelacruz

    nice writing jun!  happy mother’s day to your mom!

  • http://mykitchenfromscratch.wordpress.com/ Kwokmun Lee

    Fragrance of pandan goes so well with coconut. I am sure this agar salad is a winner!

  • Teacherkai

    I know how much you love Mama. We all do and we miss her so. I really do appreciate your efforts in giving her weekly phone calls as well as the 2-month visits every year. All year around, I often hear Mama say how much she misses you and how much she looks forward to your calls. I am glad that right now, she is there with you and I hope you guys have a grand time! Your blog about buko pandan made me miss Mama’s cooking. It’s soo yummy and I am impressed on how much you were able to document this wonderful recipe. =) Maybe you should post a pic of you and Mama…considering how much you include stories about her in most of your blogs. =)

  • Angeli

    Mr. Jun, the buko pandan looks very yummy. thanks for sharing :-)

  • http://purplecalabash.com/ Ana

    I love those colours. Stunning photos.

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

    Cecile, thank you!! Happy Mother’s Day to your mom, too!

  • http://samanthafoodgeek.com/ Samantha

    I am always so impressed with not just the photography but the eloquence that you bring to each story about your life. You mom is a lucky person to have such a thoughtful and insightful son. And you are certainly lucky too, to have a terrific mother. A toast to her this Mother’s Day! Thanks Jun!

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

    Samantha, thank you! Happy Mother’s Day to you!

  • http://psychosomaticaddictinsane.wordpress.com/ Iyassantos

    ooooh la la! ang sarap! my mom makes great  buco panda. actually, recipe ko yun, pero ginaya nya pero mas masarap nung sya ang gumawa. pareho kayo na nata de coco ang nilalagay. ako naman, yung maliliit na sago!


  • natzsm

    Hello Mr. Jun. Your buko pandan looks superb. 

    My buco pandan dessert usually ends up with cream with a slightly greenish tinge after it has been chilling overnight.  It seems the color of the gulaman “bleeds”. I was wondering whether you or anyone here has experienced the same problem.

    I have resorted to simply using clear gulaman but it simply isn’t the same.

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

    Thank you for writing! Yes, the green color from the gulaman always bleed to the dressing after it has chilled for a day or two.  Using uncolored gulaman is really not the same. The green color (and of course the pandan scent and flavor) makes the dish.

  • Cathy

    Hi Mr. Jun! Your Buko pandan looks yummy and I’d like to try this on my kids party. Where can I buy the pandan leaves? Are these available in asian market grocery store? Thanks in advance!

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

    Cathy, frozen pandan leaves are available in some Asian stores. Where are you located? If you cannot find them you can use pandan extract instead. Good luck!

  • revelyn

    if the all- purpose and condensed milk cream dressing becomes too thick
    you can add powdered milk to desired consitency…….

  • http://tartineandapronstrings.com/ Jen Laceda

    I love buko pandan – it’s a Filipino classic! Its presence is always seen in Filipino parties here in Toronto, and I’m not complaining!

  • nathalie

    The first buko pandan I ever had was at this place, Nathaniel’s, on Timog Ave in Manila. I was hooked! Now in Cambodia I have to make my own. I’ll need to try this recipe!

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  • Barbie Lee

    buko pandan salad one of my fav deserts ^^