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Tahô is a Philippine street food sold by peddlers known as “magtataho”. It is a soft gelatin-like snack made from processed soybeans topped with caramel and tapioca pearls (locally called sago). The soft gelatin-like texture is achieved by undergoing a series of steps. Soybeans are soaked in water overnight then finely grinded and boiled. While boiling, extracts from the soy beans mixes with water forming soy milk. The remaining solid particles are placed in a cloth then squeezed tightly until all the soy milks are fully extracted. Coagulating agents such as gelatin or magnesium chloride are then added to thicken the texture. The caramel syrup is made by caramelizing brown sugar and mixing it with water.
Often consumed for breakfast, tahô is usually sold early in the morning while it is still warm. Back in the days, the customers are required to provide the container for taho. Mugs or glasses (these are usually cleaned empty Nescafe, Great Taste, or Blend 45 coffee containers) are handed over to the “magtataho” to be filled depending on the amount specified. “Manong, Tatlong Pisong taho po” are the words that I regularly tell the peddler. These magic words always do its job of completely filling my big 17 oz mug (this was during the late 80’s until the early 90’s). Last time I got one was 3 years ago and an itsy bitsy tiny winy plastic cup (provided by the vendor) cost 5 pesos (a little more than a dime).
This is regarded as a healthy food because of the protein content of soy; however, the sugar content of the caramel syrup tends to neutralize the health benefits. In order to maximize the health potential of this food, try to request for a lesser serving of caramel syrup.
When you see a man in the Philippines carrying two huge aluminum or stainless containers (or riding a bike with the containers on the sidecar) and shouting Tahoooô!, don’t be afraid – he is just your friendly “magtataho” advertising his product.