How much buko cost nowadays? I never know because I usually get it for free. The last time we were out of town one of our company bought a piece for 50 pesos. It was not surprising. The place was a beach. Everything in there were priced higher. Mature coconut from public market with free break and grate is about 20 to 30 pesos. There is no way the price is getting lower unless a massive coconut tree planting campaign is initiated and successfully implemented. However, with the current agricultural situation, rapid industrialization and conversion of lands to housing communities, the project is too far from reality.
So when you encounter a vendor selling buko salad for cheap. Don’t expect it to be from real young coconut. Not even close. I bought twice already. The strands had close resemblance but the color was the opposite. It was translucent white. The white reflection was probably due to added milk. It was deliciously sweet dessert but should not be called buko salad. The best way is buy real unopened buko and made the salad yourself. Opened and shredded are perishable and so there is a danger of food poisoning. It happened to me and my brother once.
The strands based on my inference is a firm gel made with pectin. I worked in a food research and development laboratory. One of the gels we were making was similar to it. Pectin is expensive so someone might have invented a cheaper alternative. Maybe it can be successfully manufactured with seaweed extract with the right formulation and appropriate heat. A trick that I never discover yet.
Previously, I experimented with cornstarch and maja blanca making. The result was getting firmer as the starch to water ratio increased. The same result was observed with seaweed extract and gel making. Maybe, just maybe, a gel of near gummy consistency can be achieved. Literature search might give the right answer but trying it for myself is the best.
Tapioca pearl or more popularly known as sago. My childhood favorite, the sago at gulaman. The base ingredient that made Zagu popular. This product can be firm to soggy depending on boiling length. With the right timing, it could be the material for fake young coconut. With added white colorant of course.
Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.