Provinces in the Philippines are full of delicacies. We tend to bring home for our loved ones the delicacies that we tasted somewhere Well, it’s a part of the Filipino culture! We call it “pasalubong”. Bicol Region has its “pasalubong” trademark. Whether it is a local or a foreign tourist, when they speak of pasalubong from Bicol, they’ll be bringing home a pili nut candy.
Pili Nut candies have variations like brown or white thin sugar coated pili nuts, honey-glazed pili, and some put some twist on it by putting sesame seeds. It has a very unique taste compared to other nuts. But, what is a Pili Nut? Why Bicol Region is popular with it?
“Pili Nut Tree” is indigent on the countries of Asia and the Pacific. Yet, only this country is capable of commercially producing and processing Pili-based foods. Bicol Region plays a very important role because 80% of the output volume comes from this region. Bicol Region has a volcanic soil from its active volcanoes and generous rainfall from the typhoons that regularly pass which is a favorite fecund of Pili Nut Trees.
The fruit of the Pili Nut Tree is color purplish black with shiny and smooth texture when already matured and ready to be picked. In the inside, there is a fibrous pulp that is greenish yellow in color. The pulp is coating a very hard shell which contains the “Pili Nut”—a whitish cotyledon known as kernel. The kernel is the main ingredient in making Pili food products.
The kernel is made into candies but now a days there are many other products that is from the kernel like Pili Tart, Roasted Pili, Salted Pili, Mazapan de Pili etc.
The pulp also can be eaten also as a salad or is dipped in the fish sauce or sugar as a dessert.
Both the kernel and pulp can be sources of oil and flavoring that is used for baking and cooking cuisines. Coffee shops in Bicol actually have Pili Nut flavored Frappe and coffee.
Pili Nut Candy vendors are all over Bicol region, you can even see some selling it on the streets or offering it inside the bus. But beware of it because some are mixing other kind of nuts on it so if you want to buy authentic Pili Nuts when you go to Bicol, you can find it in the following places:
- Albay Pili Nut Candy this is the most popular store that sell products that are made from pili nuts located at the Old Albay District. They are the one who started pili nut candy business in Bicol. The store looks like an ancestral house so you will feel a Filipino house vibe. The store showcases different variety of pili products like Mazpan De Pili, Pili Butternuts, Pastillas De Pili, Yemas De Pili, Crispy Pili, Salted Pili, Honey Pili, Sugarcoated Pili, Pili Polvoron etc. This store also package their products uniquely. When visiting the store, you can ask to try the Pili-cutting machine. The machine is used to cut the shell of pili in easy way. Their product is very affordable ranging from 70 pesos to 200 pesos depending on its size.
- Pacific Mall. There are stalls for souvenir items and delicacies in the second floor of the mall adjacent to the food court.
- Ibalong Pasalubong Center located inside the Ibalong Centrum for Recreation which is at the front of Legazpi Grand Terminal. There are many stalls with many pasalubong products to choose from. Pili nuts are usually packaged on a plastic bottle and zip lock to keep its crispiness. Prices ranges from 100 pesos to 200 pesos depending on the size of the package. They give discount if the customer buy in bulk.
- Legazpi City Public Market/ Public Markets around Bicol. At the ground floor of Legazpi City Public Market you can find stores that sells Pili Nut Candies in bottles. They are the cheapest source that you can find. Also, at the third floor, there you can buy fresh Pili Nut fruit if you want to make a salad or add it as a flavor to a dish.
If you’re in Bicol, don’t leave without tasting a Pili Nut and buy some for your love ones back home, they’ll truly appreciate this one of a kind taste!