Binatog: Discover the Delicious World How to Serve, Store and Enjoy
One of the most iconic Filipino street dishes and perhaps one of the sweetest memories of every grown-up Filipino, binatog is a corn dessert served with coconut and salt or sugar as a topping.
This dish is prepared by soaking the mature, waxy kernels in salt water until they’re puffed up. Then, they’re washed and boiled in water or coconut milk until soft. Afterward, the corn is put in a bowl and added with toppings of choice.
The dish is a staple in the northern Philippines and is a must-have part of every merienda. It’s also commonly sold on the streets by sellers who are locally known as “magbibinatog.” These people are cycle riders who carry large tin cans, a bell, and sometimes even a sidecar to store their ingredients in.
That’s quite a unique way of selling, but what’s even more interesting is the vendor shouting at the top of their lungs, which lets the children and adults know they’re here. That’s why many Filipinos keep this dish so close to their hearts; it has such personality!
Though a sweet-salty dish in its authentic form, binatog can be adjusted as per your liking by adding different toppings. For me, it’d be coconut milk. I mean, nothing beats the creamy taste of gata. ;)
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Origin
- 2 Binatog: Serving and Storing Tips
- 3 Other Corn-Based Dishes Similar to Binatog
- 4 Is Binatog a Kakanin?
- 5 Conclusion
Due to the very limited history available about the dish, there’s not much known about the exact origin of binatog, except that it’s from the Philippines. Still, according to the limited data, it’s is safe to assume that the dish likely originated from the northern parts of the Philippines, where corn is abundant, especially in Luzon.
Another assumption about the origin of binatog is that it might’ve been brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards in the colonization era. This is also supported by the fact that the nixtamalization process (which includes soaking and cooking kernels in lime water solution_ originates from Spain.
However, the main reason for this process was to make the corn easy to grind. So to say that the dish originates from Spain because they just introduced the specific process to the Philippines would be a complete underestimation of Filipino creative genius when it comes to food.
In other words, we could say that the basic idea and ingredient came from Spain, while the dish was truly invented in the Northern Philippines, which makes it an authentic Filipino recipe.
Binatog: Serving and Storing Tips
Binatog (full recipe here) is best served hot, especially during chilly weather. Here are some tips on how to serve it:
- Scoop the binatog into a bowl or cup.
- Add a generous amount of grated coconut, salt, and butter or margarine on top.
- Mix everything together until the butter or margarine has melted and the flavors have blended.
- Serve with a spoon and fork.
Store it Properly
If you have leftover binatog, you can store it in the fridge for a few days. Here’s how:
- Let the binatog cool down to room temperature.
- Transfer it to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag.
- Store in the fridge for up to three days.
- When reheating, add a splash of water to the binatog to prevent it from drying out.
Reheat it Right
Reheating binatog is easy, but you have to do it right to preserve its texture and flavor. Here are some tips:
- Transfer the binatog to a microwave-safe bowl or plate.
- Add a splash of water to the binatog to prevent it from drying out.
- Cover the bowl or plate with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap.
- Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes or until heated through.
- Stir the binatog halfway through the reheating process to distribute the heat evenly.
Get Creative with Leftovers
If you have leftover binatog and you’re tired of eating it the same way, here are some ideas to spice things up:
- Turn it into a salad by adding chopped tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.
- Use it as a filling for lumpia or empanadas.
- Make binatog fritters by mixing it with flour, egg, and spices, then frying until golden brown.
- Use it as a topping for nachos or tacos instead of corn chips.
Other Corn-Based Dishes Similar to Binatog
1. Ginataang Mais
Ginataang Mais is a Filipino dish that is similar to Binatog in that it is also made with corn kernels. However, instead of being boiled and served with grated coconut and salt, Ginataang Mais is cooked in coconut milk and sugar. It is often served as a dessert or snack.
2. Hominy Grits
Hominy grits are a popular breakfast dish in the southern United States. They are made from dried, mature corn kernels that have been treated with an alkali solution, which removes the hull and germ. The resulting hominy is then ground into a coarse meal and cooked with water or milk. The texture is similar to Binatog, but the flavor is more savory.
3. Chicha Corn Puffs
Chicha Corn Puffs are a popular snack in Peru and other Latin American countries. They are made from a type of corn called “maiz moteado,” which is a waxy, saltwater corn. The kernels are boiled and then dried, and then they are popped like popcorn. The resulting puffs are crispy and crunchy, with a slightly sweet flavor.
4. Ube and Cheese Binatog
While Binatog is traditionally served with grated coconut and salt, some vendors in the Philippines have started to experiment with different toppings. One popular variation is Ube and Cheese Binatog, which is made by adding grated purple yam (ube) and grated cheese to the boiled corn kernels. The result is a sweet and savory snack that is perfect for any time of day.
5. Binatog with Baboy
Another variation of Binatog is Binatog with Baboy, which is made by adding small pieces of pork belly to the boiled corn kernels. The pork belly is cooked until crispy and then mixed with the corn. The result is a hearty and savory dish that is perfect for breakfast or lunch.
Is Binatog a Kakanin?
Binatog is a unique Filipino dish that is popularly consumed as a snack or breakfast food. It is made by boiling mature and waxy corn kernels until they become soft and solid. The boiled corn is then soaked in saltwater and grated coconut before being topped with a sauce made of sugar, salt, and coconut milk. The dish is also known as hominy or dried corn puffs in Mexican cuisine.
How to Make Binatog?
Making binatog is a simple process that requires only a few ingredients and a little bit of time. Here’s a recipe to make binatog at home:
- 4 cups of mature and waxy corn kernels
- 1 cup of grated coconut
- 2 tablespoons of salt
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 cup of coconut milk
1. Start by boiling the corn kernels in a pot of water for about 30 minutes or until they become soft and solid.
2. Drain the corn kernels and soak them in saltwater for about 10 minutes to prevent them from running.
3. Add the grated coconut to the corn kernels and mix well.
4. In a separate pot, simmer the coconut milk, sugar, and salt until the mixture thickens.
5. Pour the sauce over the corn and coconut mixture and mix well.
6. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before serving.
Similar Dishes to Binatog
Binatog is similar to other dishes made from boiled corn such as Mexican hominy or dried corn puffs. However, the addition of grated coconut and coconut milk sauce makes binatog a unique Filipino dish that is hard to find elsewhere.
Why You Should Try Binatog?
If you’re looking for a new and unique snack or breakfast food to try, binatog is definitely worth a taste. Here are some reasons why you should give it a try:
- It is a low-cost and filling food that can satisfy your cravings.
- It is a heart-healthy food that is low in fat and high in fiber.
- It is a popular street food in the Philippines that is enjoyed by many locals and tourists alike.
- It is a dish that has been around for years and has become a part of Filipino food culture.
So, there you have it- everything you need to know about binatog. It’s a delicious Filipino dish made with corn that you can enjoy any time of day. Plus, it’s pretty easy to make!
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.