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Pamapa Itum

Burnt Coconut Aromatic Paste

It’s a type of aromatic spice paste (think of it as a sofrito: aromatic ingredients cut into smallpieces but pounded) used to flavor various dishes. And integral to this sofrito is an even more unique ingredient: burnt coconut meat. Not toasted, singed, or browned, but burnt!

Don’t worry when you taste the food you can’t taste the burnt coconut, it’s more like a nutty flavour. I’m bamboozooled that it actually taste so good when first tried it. It’s cooked with Tiyula Itum (Black Beef Soup) or Piyanggang (Burnt Coconut Chicken Stew/Grill) and more Tausug dishes.

This paste is from the Tausug community. Tausug cuisine is found in many places across the Philippines, from Sulu to Zamboanga, and even in some parts of Southern Palawan. From savory dishes to sweet delicacies, the roots of Tausug food can be traced to the neighboring state of Sabah, Malaysia, and boasts of a history that extends well before the arrival of the first Spaniards.

Prepared following the Islamic Halal dietary law, most Tausug food is often meant for communal feasting. Dishes like beef kulma, chicken piyanggang, and lokot lokot are normally reserved for weddings, burials, and other special occasions. — Grid Magazine

This is my take on the their Pamapa Itum. I want to be respectful to their cuisine and their way of cooking. I want to showcase their cuisine to create more awareness to a wider range of food from the Philippines. For many years, we only really hear about food from the northern parts of the Philippines so it’s refreshing to know more about the food from the Visayas and Mindanao.

Swap it!

Coconut – I used a fresh whole coconut, I chose the mature coconut not the young coconut as that is still soft. But you can also buy frozen shredded coconut. I buy these from the Filipino grocery store or asian shops like in Chinatown. I have a coconut grater or grinder so I sometimes use fresh whole coconut but if I don’t have time then I would go for frozen.

Chillies – I added just 1 of this because we don’t like it too hot but you can add more if you can tahe the heat.



1 whole coconut (see alternative on my post)
6 cloves garlic 3 stems lemongrass
30-40g ginger
60g fresh turmeric 1-2 birds eye chillies
1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
1 tablespoon salt



Halve the coconut and then grate them into a plate or bowl. Next, in a frying pan, place the grated coconut and burn them off until dark (there might still be brownish or whitish parts and thats okay. Once this is done put it aside to cool down. 


When the burn coconut is cooled, pour it into the pestle and mortir and pound it until they are fine. Take them out of the pestle and mortir and put it aside for later. Next, add chopped garlic, ginger, turmeric and chillies. Pound them until they are crushed, then add the burn coconut back and continue to pound for another 5 minutes. Add some coconut oil to make it a little moist and give it a good mix. Take them out and place it a clean container with a lid. 




You can add this paste to your tiyula itum or piyanggang dish. This keeps in the fridge for 1 month. 

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