Gulaman at sago is a favorite Pinoy summer drink that we call palamig in Ilocano (samalamig in Tagalog). As the name implies,this desert drink has black gulaman (grass jelly) and sago (tapioca pearl) that are swimming in arnibal juice (caramelized sugar). Although relatively cheap and readily available all over New York, I like doing it myself at home for convenience and also to adjust it according to my taste — not too sweet and slightly bitter with lots of jelly and chewy sago.
1) Sago. I prefer the black one because it is easier to cook compared to the white sagos I grew up with in the Philippines. The white regular size sago takes almost an hour to prepare. The black sago doesn’t take more than ten minutes.
2) Black gulaman or grass jelly. Available in can or fresh. Foo Ing Too (46 Mott St) in NYC’s Chinatown sells fresh black gulaman alongside their taho and puto. Use more of this if you like its bitter taste.
3) Arnibal or caramelized sugar
4) Banana extract and/or vanilla
5) Lots of ice, preferably crushed.
Pictured below are exactly the same brands that I use.
1) Pour the regular tapioca pearls into a pot of boiling water (ten cups at least). After five minutes, pour the small tapioca ones as well. (Although not necessary to use both sizes, I enjoy the feel of both the small and big sago together.) Once you no longer see the white inside the smaller sago, strain and wash in running water. The drink will taste starchy and the sagos will stick together if not washed in cold or tap water.
2) Using same pot, measure 2 cups of water and pour half the pack of Domino’s Dark Brown Sugar. Mix until sugar is melted and then boil undisturbed for 5 minutes . Next pour the cooked sago and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
3) In a smaller pot, mix the entire pack of brown sugar and the remaining half pack with 2-3 cups of water. After sugar is melted, boil undisturbed for 8-10 minutes or until the slightly burnt smell of sugar comes out. This is called arnibal in Tagalog. Set aside the arnibal and let cool.
4) In a big jar, pour all ingredients together according to desired taste: sago, arnibal, sliced gulaman and lots of ice. Don’t put water directly into the mix for it will lose its flavor. I suggest shaking the drink with ice if you want it watered down.
5) Last step is to flavor it with a few drops of banana extract. Just make sure not to put too much because its intense flavor can be dizzying and overwhelming. Also good with vanilla, but I prefer mine without.
*For variations, instead of arnibal you may use soy milk or iced coffee with heavy chocolate syrup.
*Turn the drink into a cocktail drink as well. Add Absolut Kurant to your sago and gulaman drink. Drink responsibly.
Enjoy! I usually drink my gulaman at sago with fishballs ala manong pushcart as yummy pambara (means solid food as opposed to ‘panulak’, Tagalog slang for drink).
Here’s my FISHBALL SAUCE recipe. Ilocanos would surely exclaim, Nagimasen! (TRANSLATE: It’s very delicious!) Try it.
This recipe has been featured at another Filipino-run blog. Click here to read the post.