By Madellaine Ortea 2021-03-02

Prepare a Street Food Feast at Home Complete With Dips and Drinks 

With the Filipinos' love for food, it is a must that food should be accessible anywhere. Street food is very popular in the Philippines that it's almost impossible to be left in an area that doesn't serve any food. Street food can take any form. There are stalls that have been set up, street vendors who situate themselves in one area for hours at a time, and manlalakos who wander on a route, waiting for someone to call them over to buy. There's also an array of foods you can expect from them. Many served deep fried snacks, some serve hearty meals, and others prepare desserts. If you want an instant street food merienda, tusok-tusoks are the easiest to prepare. 

Tusok-tusok is the cheapest kind of street food by the piece. It literally means "poke-poke" because of the manner you select your food. A street vendor usually has a big pot of oil boiling in his stand. He freshly fries the frozen fish balls, squid balls, kikiam, among other things. He lays the fried food in trays and it's up to you to select the number of pieces you want using a bamboo stick. Fish balls and kikiam are usually 1 peso ($0.02) and squid balls are 2 pesos ($0.04) a piece. Talk about cheap! No wonder Filipinos would fill up cups of those and drizzle them in savory sweet dips. 

Fish balls are made of ground up fish meat and fillers that is flattened in to a disc-like shape. Squid balls are made up of ground up squid meat and fillers which is shaped into a ball. Kikiam is traditionally made up of minced meat and vegetables but cheaper versions uses fish meat instead and more fillers are added. They have a strange finger like shape. No matter which kind of tusok-tusok you choose, it all comes down to the dip. 

Usually, the street vendor offers three variety of sauces. There's a savory sweet sauce made from soy sauce and brown sugar and another similar sauce but with added chilis. The last is a vinegar dip that usually has red onions and/or cucumbers. It's a thrilling experiment;  to play with the amount of sauce and tusok-tusok variety. But food is not enough to sate the appetite. There should be drinks to be offered as well. The best drink to pair with tusok-tusok is Sago't Gulaman. It is a sweet drink from brown sugar with a hint of vanilla extract. Tapioca pearls or sago and shreds of gulaman to serve as a filler in the drink and gives the drink its name. 

All of these are easy to make and you can mimic the street food feeling when you're missing the outside. 

For the Sago't Gulaman: 



  • 3 cups tapioca pearls
  • 1 sachet gelatin powder, pandan flavored
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 cups water
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 2 liters cold water


  1. Cook tapioca pearls according to package instructions. Set aside.
  2. Cook gelatin according to package instructions. Let cool and slice into 2-inch strips.
  3. In a large pot over low heat, caramelize brown sugar.
  4. Pour in the water and vanilla extract and let the mixture boil. The sugar may harden into a lump but keep stirring until sugar dissolves.
  5. Turn off heat and let cool.
  6. Fill a jug with cold water. Pour in the sugar mixture and mix until well combined.
  7. Add tapioca pearls, sliced gulaman and ice cubes.
  8. Pour in individual glasses with more ice cubes. Serve cold.

For the Dips: