Gatas ng Kalabaw Reminiscences


When I was a kid, Gatas ng Kalabaw (Carabao’s Milk) was a commonplace thing at home. While we lived in the city, my grandmother had a suki (regular supplier) who would deliver bottles of the milk, fresh from Pampanga. We’d receive the milk in mismatched, long-necked glass bottles, stoppered with a rolled up wad of banana leaf. Richer and creamier than cow’s milk, it feels thicker to the tongue—I don’t know if it’s the actual texture or if it just feels that way because of the taste.

Gatas ng Kalabaw


Despite the frequent encounters I had with it during childhood though, the number of times I’ve drunk it can be counted with my hands because it was something we saved for pouring on hot rice. My grandmother would give me a shallow bowl of piping hot, freshly cooked rice which I’d then douse with copious amounts of carabao milk. I would then sprinkle it with some rock salt and dig in. Some people like pairing this with dried fish. My mom likes it with Halabos na Hipon (steamed shrimp). Personally, I like it plain, letting the cool milk heat up, meeting the temperature of the hot rice halfway. The rich milk flavor is cut by the bland rice, with a hint of salt contrasting sharply against the naturally sweet milk. Because of the soupy texture and lack of any other ingredient, it’s easy and comforting to eat, much like a bowl of hot porridge on a cold day. I just keep stuffing spoonful after spoonful in my mouth.

These days, we’d occasionally buy bottled carabao’s milk during food fairs or from specialty markets. Unlike the leaf stoppered bottles from the old days, we’d get sleek plastic bottles with sealed caps—much like commercially marketed cow’s milk. It’s now UHT pasteurized, adding to the shelf life, making it safer to ingest as well. Still, despite all the modern improvements, I still see it as the same bottle of carabao’s milk I grew up with. A bottle of creamy goodness doused on rice, warming my hungry tummy, spelling comfort and a shiny, bright new day to explore.

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12 Responses to Gatas ng Kalabaw Reminiscences

  1. Clair says:

    Uy. I think I want to try this 😀

  2. khursten says:

    Hoooouu~ I long to try this Kao! *A*

  3. peachkins says:

    uy masarap to..sobra!

  4. zerovoltage says:

    i actually love gatas ng kalabaw on rice 😀 i rarely get to have it though.

  5. beehappy15 says:

    do you buy a specific milk brand? my folks bought tons of “mr.moo” carabao milk as well as kesong puti from tagaytay…. it was lactic lurve ??? i agree that carabao milk tastes better than cow’s milk =P

  6. Suzanne says:

    We usually buy from DTRI in UPLB… They have the plain carabao milk then a chocolate milk flavor… Yum! I wanna try your way.

  7. feifu says:

    One of my favorite comfort food. My mom still has a suki she gets this from. I particularly like the thick film that forms on top after the milk cools down after its been boiled. I usually put fruits like mangoes or strawberries with the bit of rice when we have this at home. It’s yummy!

  8. Luney says:

    Darn. I wonder if I could get any in the US? But it wouldn’t be nice to my lactose-hating tummy but my mouth and brain would love it so it’s two against one.

    That’s such a cute bowl to have it in. XD

  9. Tony Lou says:

    i think i’ve seen rice prepared that way. but i thought it was like sticky rice like a suman. medyo nagulat ako dun sa rock salt part. although, parang ang sarap. ^_^

  10. kryjnn says:

    I’ve seen several small kiosks in some malls selling Gatas ng Kalabaw.. I can’t quite remember exactly but I think the store’s name is Gatas ng Kalabaw. I tried buying some before but I always find the plain carabao milk sold out. I should try again! Looks yummy!

  11. toni says:

    I’ve NEVER tried this but have always been intrigued. There are commercially available carabao’s milk but I don’t know how to do it right, pouring it over hot rice or something. One of these days I’ll give it a whirl.

  12. kaoko says:

    @Clair
    Must try, masarap s’ya.

    @khursten
    GET!

    @peachkins
    Diba? What else do you eat with it? Daing?

    @zerovoltage
    Why not? It’s easier to buy gatas ng kalabaw now. 😀

    @beehappy15
    There’s one we buy at SM Makati when they have their weekend food thingie. Dun sa gitna? We buy Friday nights after work.

    @Suzanne
    CHOCOLATE Carabao Milk? That sounds even more evil than the usual! *drool*

    @feifu
    Oooh! I imagine it would be good with mangoes. Hehe, do you eat ripe mangoes with rice too? My lola taught me that as well, hehe.

    @Luney
    Eat first, stomach worries later. Sounds like a gameplan, hahaha! About buying it in the States though, I have no idea. Call me stupid but I don’t even know where they have Carabaos in the US. *facepalm*

    @Tony Lou
    Must try s’ya! The rock salt brings out the sweetness of the milk even more.

    @kryjnn
    I hope you get to try some soon! Masarap s’ya talaga.

    @toni
    Nothing to it! Mound steaming rice in a bowl, pour milk. Sprinkle with salt 😀 You can do it even when it’s cold from the fridge—the rice will take care of everything for you <3

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