Buko Pandan salad is a Filipino dessert from young coconut meat and Pandan-flavoured jelly that is very easy to make. Try this special Buko Pandan Salad recipe with added tapioca/sago pearls, kaong, and nata de coco.
What is Buko Pandan?
Buko Pandan is a popular cold dessert in the Philippines made mainly with coconut and jelly flavored with 'pandan' (screwpine leaves).
It is popular during summertime as a way of cooling down from the heat.
However, it is not only favored during the hot season, it is also a favorite Filipino dessert for Christmas Noche Buena and other occasions because it is so easy to make, budget-friendly, and yummy!.
Ingredients and Alternatives
Basic Buko Pandan Ingredients:
- Fresh young coconut is the best but opt for ones that are not too young as they tend to have lesser meat that is too soft. Normally, the coconut seller would know this just let them know that you intend to use it for buko pandan salad. Avoid the mature (brown) coconut as they are too hard and will not taste as good.
Alternative : If fresh coconut is not accessible, canned ones are now available or the coconut sport (makapuno) strings in a jar, but rinse the syrup or it will be too sweet.
- Screwpine leaves (or locally known as pandan) are used for natural flavoring.
Alternative: Pandan essence or extract will do if the leaves are not easily available. To be honest, though, I find it is not the same. Somehow you can distinguish the 'bottled' taste of the pandan extract. But when necessity calls, it would do.
- Unflavored green Agar powder/ jelly powder was used for this recipe
Alternative: You can also use the agar bar and cook as per package instructions or gelatin powder/sheets can also be used.
- Cream is added for that ice-cream-like consistency. In the Philippines, we use all-purpose cream but I also use table cream or whipping cream if you would like whip it for a fluffier, lighter texture.
- Sweetened condensed milk is used as the sweetener. Others would add more sugar but I find that is no longer necessary.
- Sago or tapioca pearls - we used the tiny pearls but you can also use the bigger ones.
- Nata de Coco or 'coconut gel' is chewy translucent cubes made from fermented coconut water that can be bought in jars in supermarkets.
- Kaong or sugar palm fruit can also be bought in jars in heavy syrup.
How to make Buko Pandan Salad?
Both the coconut meat and the coconut juice are used to create this dessert.
First is to prepare the green jelly by boiling the Pandan leaves in coconut water with the jelly powder. The water would already turn greenish from the pandan leaves. However, it is not enough to make it aesthetically appetizing. What I do is add some green food coloring...just a tiny bit to enhance the color.
Next, cook your tapioca pearls or sago as per package instructions. To shorten the procedure you may also buy the cooked ones.
While waiting for the jelly to set, you can shred your coconut meat to make strings. We have a special tool for this but if not available you can also just cut the coconut meat into squares.
Once all are ready combine all the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.
To make it extra special, Kaong and Nata de Coco are also added but are purely optional. Chill.
How to Store?
Buko pandan needs to be chilled before serving. You can also freeze it for some hours like others do but I prefer the soft version.
It can be refrigearted for some days without a problem. But if it needs longer storage, then freeze it. However, freezing it makes the tapioca, nata de coco, kaong hard. The jelly does not also do well and wil turn the whole thing watery when you defrost or thaw it. But you can just discard some of the liquids that will form and mix it all together.
Similar Dessert Recipes
Buko Pandan Recipe
- 3 cups coconut juice
- ½ pouch (12g) jelly powder (gulaman) - use green if available. Gelatin may also be used (see Note 1)
- ½ cup sugar
- 6-8 pieces Pandan leaves - or use pandan extracts (see Note 2)
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 pack (250mL) all-purpose cream - or table cream / whipping cream
- 2 cups coconut meat - shredded into strips
- ½ cup tapioca pearls - uncooked
- 1 bottle (12oz) kaong (sugar palm fruit) - syrup drained and rinsed
- 1 bottle (12oz) nata de coco (coconut gel) - syrup drained and rinsed
- 3 cups coconut juice, ½ pouch (12g) jelly powder (gulaman), ½ cup sugar, 6-8 pieces Pandan leavesIn a pot, add coconut juice and dissolve the jelly powder or gulaman. Add the sugar and pandan leaves and bring it to boil while stirring constantly.
- Once it boils, remove from heat and pour into a square pan and let cool to set. You may place it in the fridge to fasten the process. Once ready, cut the gelatin into cubes.
- ½ cup tapioca pearlsWhile waiting, cook the tapioca pearls. In a pot, bring 1 liter of water to boil. Add the small sago or tapioca pearls and cook for 15 minutes or until translucent. (Check package instructions.) Stir occasionally to prevent from sticking together.
- Turn off heat and strain the sago pearls using a fine sieve. Rinse thoroughly until the sago or tapioca pearls are no longer hot to touch. Set aside.
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk, 1 pack (250mL) all-purpose cream, 2 cups coconut meat, 1 bottle (12oz) kaong (sugar palm fruit), 1 bottle (12oz) nata de coco (coconut gel)In a big bowl, add the cream and sweetened condensed milk and stir until well blended. Add the coconut strips, tapioca pearls, pandan jelly cubes, kaong and nata de coco and gently mix until well combined. (see Note 3)
- Cover bowl and leave it in the fridge to chill or transfer to another container if planning to freeze.