How many dishes can you make with kesong puti? Well, restaurateur and chef Margarita "Gaita" Fores has over a dozen.
A kesong puti lover herself, Fores is one of the few top promoters of the use of carabao's milk as, guess what- MOZZARELLA CHEESE!
From pasta to garden salads, appetizers and main dishes- Fores makes them all. Adobo Flakes topped with kesong puti, pasta Penne Al Telefono topped with kesong puti and Caprese Tower are among the bestsellers of her wide array of carabao mozzarella recipes featured in the three restaurants that she owns.
Fores is the owner of Pepato, co-owner of Cibo with her siblings, and co-owner of Café Bola with her partner Alvin Lim.
Cibo was the first to incorporate kesong puti in its dishes with the pasta Penne Al Telefono.
"We use it in varying degrees. It's selling very well. People find it interesting. We always say carabao mozzarella. We always say it's locally made," Fores said.
The Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) developed carabao mozzarella cheese made out of milk produced by superior breeds of Bulgarian Buffaloes now being cloned by the PCC.
The PCC has embarked on a project to clone superior buffaloes to improve their milk production. Every year, at least P240 Billion is spent for milk importation. Edwin Atabay, PCC Senior Science Research Specialist said that at present, the country is importing 99 percent of its milk needs.
PCC bought an ultrasound-guided ovum pick-up facility through funding from the DOST to assist them in cloning traits of Bulgarian buffaloes.
"I find that it's quite ingenious that we Filipinos have been able to produce it, with the help of some Italians who were asked to come and teach. Whenever we have catering, in order to Filipinize the dishes I would use it," said Fores.
Compared to Italian mozzarella cheese, the mozzarella made out of the carabao's milk has lower fat content. The texture is also better than the Italian mozzarella because it did not go through any pasteurization process.
Fores said even the Italians agree that carabao mozzarella is good.
"The Italian Ambassador was very, very happy and impressed that we're able to do it here. If it's Italian mozzarella, it's pasteurized. Unlike these ones that are made here, it really looks like it was made yesterday," she said.