A fan of Mikey swung by the station the other day and brought us some kesong puti. For my non-Filipino readers (hiyeeeee), ‘kesong puti’ translates to ‘white cheese’ and it’s a local soft white cheese made with carabao’s milk similar to cottage cheese. Our listeners almost always bring us food. It’s one of the many perks of hosting a radio show! 😁
This brought me back to yet another day on radio a couple of years ago when I had Malasimbo Festival organizers Olivia and Miro as guests. They had brought kesong puti from Malasimbo and it was marinated in olive oil and herbs and I just thought it was so delicious and clever because 1) putting cheese in oil prolongs its shelf life and 2) the herbs lend tons of flavor to the mild and somewhat boring kesong puti.
So I tried my hand at marinating kesong puti at home yesterday. No recipe here, I just played around with what I had on hand. Except for thyme. I did a grocery run for that because it’s my favorite herb of all thyme. Hihi.
A look at my little assembly station:
Aside from fresh thyme, I had dried rosemary, dried bay leaves, and pitted black olives. And the all-important extra virgin olive oil. Your olive oil doesn’t have to be extra virgin but an occasion like this where the olive oil will be eaten raw would be a really good time to bust it out. As opposed to, say, when it’s used to sauté or pan fry. That would be a bit of a waste of the extra virgin stuff.
Before we put it all together, an important and mandatory step is sterilizing your jar. I washed mine thoroughly and gently lowered it to a pot of boiling water and let it sit there for about 10 minutes. I then let it dry on a paper towel until it was cool enough to handle.
To assemble, I started with a layer of the olive oil followed by thyme, rosemary, and a bay leaf.
I then scooped in some of the kesong puti. Yeah, I scooped. I initially wanted to cut the kesong puti into cubes but this was the softest kesong puti I’ve ever encountered and the cube shape wouldn’t have held. I think I like that it’s soft though, this will turn out like an herbed cheese spread. Sounds promising!
I poured in more olive oil, enough to submerge the kesong puti, and added more thyme and rosemary.
To finish, I studded the thing with pitted black olives that I had drained earlier. Is this gorgeous or is this gorgeous? It’s go-hor-geous.
I pushed down the olives so they’d get infused with flavor, too.
I’m already imagining that the olive oil will round out the saltiness of the kesong puti. It will be just enough saltiness for the rich and herbaceous spread that this will turn out to be. I shall spread a generous dollop on cracker or crusty bread and drizzle with some balsamic vinegar or truffle honey. I hyperventilate at the thought.
Will keep in the fridge for a week or two and then report back to you. Excited!
Fun Food Fact: Kesong puti has a shelf life of only one week so it would really benefit from marinating like this. Yay yay yay!