Along with buko (coconut) pie, kesong puti or white cheese is probably what put the province of Laguna on the Philippines’ culinary map. Kesong puti originated from the town of Sta. Cruz which, unlike picturesque Laguna towns, does not boast of any real tourist attraction. It has its kesong puti though and that was what made it famous.
Traditional kesong puti is sold wrapped in banana leaves. My grandmother often bought several packs when she went to the market. Needless to say, my brother and I were introduced to kesong puti at a very early age. Eating kesong puti with pan de sal was often a weekend breakfast treat. My love affair with kesong puti is something that I would later pass on to my children.
But what makes it so special aside from its association with fond childhood memories? It’s the subtle aroma, the delicate flavor and the soft texture–quite similar to cottage cheese, actually, except that kesong puti is made from fresh carabao’s milk. And, unlike cottage cheese, kesong puti is large enough for slicing. A slice is usually half an inch thich and two inches in diameter. A pack of traditional kesong puti contains an average of four slices.
The biggest kesong puti, made in the Central Luzon province of Nueva Ecija, measured 4 feet wide, 16 feet long and 2 inches thick.
If you want to make kesong puti at home, the website of San Miguel, Bulacan, also well-known for products made from carabao’s milk, has some very easy instructions.