Sapin Sapin is a multi-colored sticky rice cake that has been said to originate from Abra. The characteristic of this Filipino treat reflects the literal meaning of its name. Sapin sapin means “layers” in the local language. This delicacy has multi-colored layers that make it distinct compared to other popular kakainin (sticky rice) in the country.
Layers of Goodness
Each layer of sapin sapin has a different color and flavor. Typically, it is composed of three layers and the usual combination is yellow, purple, and white. The yellow layer’s flavor is jackfruit and aniseed for coloring, the purple is ube or purple yams and the middle layer is the base flavor which is coconut milk. Thus in one bite, you can enjoy three flavors, plus the latik or the toasted coconut curd topping.
Traditional and modernized version of sapin sapin
This soft, chewy, and sweet treat’s main ingredients are galapong (glutinous rice dough), coconut milk, sugar, and flavoring. Traditionally, each layer has a very distinct flavor because natural flavorings like authentic purple yam and jackfruit are added. Due to the unavailability of ingredients and can be costly when they are not in season, plus the time-consuming and tedious preparation as each layer has to be steamed individually, alternatives to achieve the same flavor were opted. Modern sapin sapin versions use artificial flavoring and coloring, thus resulting in a slight variation in taste. Meanwhile, other spain sapin are creamier due to condensed milk added. Others add macapuno (sweetened young coconut meat strings) on the white layer while some include sweet mais (corn) on the yellow layer. Also, other versions of sapin sapin have five layers where the added layer’s color is green and flavored with pandan.
Pretty looking rice cake
With the vibrant colors of this festive looking dessert, it is not only a sweet treat but also visually appealing. It is usually brought and shared during celebrations with the family like reunions, birthdays, or even as a pasalubong (homecoming gift). Compared to other kakanin, it is more appetizing to young ones and non-locals due to its sweetness and colorful nature.
Finding sapin sapin
Sapin sapin is a delicacy that locals would typically buy from kakainin stores or Filipino restaurants rather than cook it at home. At present, it’s rare to see this delicacy cooked with natural flavoring. Most of the commercially sold Sapin-Sapin are made using artificial flavoring.