Plying the streets of Binondo is Mang Efren aka Dodong with his kesong puti (white cheese) from Sta Cruz, Laguna. I buy from him a four-pack. Kesong puti is native cheese.
A form of cottage cheese, it is made with carabao’s milk, with the addition of rennet (a coagulant) or vinegar (in place of rennet) and salt. Like all cheesemaking routines, making kesong puti is a very tedious process.
Traditionally, the fresh, unripened cheese is eaten with pan de sal, the quintessential bread of the Philippines.
I tried it fresh and seared, but I prefer the latter. It is gummy like mozzarella — just so perfect with hot pan de sal.
Nowadays, kesong puti lovers are enjoying the local cheese in a myriad of modern ways. With its clear mild salty flavor, I can envision it with pasta, fresh fruit salad, in lumpia, on pizza, breaded and deep-fried and also with a combination of other cheeses for something more complex like stuffed squash flowers perhaps.