I hadn't been back to the Philippines since arriving in New Zealand at the age of 5. On my first return visit I was treated to delicious fresh jackfruit, crocodile sisig, roasted cashews and ube (purple yam) ice cream.

The jackfruit was from my aunt's house. It won't grow in New Zealand and I had never seen a fresh one – they're only available canned. The canned version is good, but it doesn't compare to eating it straight from the tree.

William Mordido, chef and founder of pop up restaurant Buko. Photo / Supplied
William Mordido, chef and founder of pop up restaurant Buko. Photo / Supplied

We also visited a restaurant where the standout dish was crocodile sisig. Sisig is most commonly pork or chicken-based. I was really curious about how it would taste, having never tried crocodile before. Texture-wise, it was quite similar to chicken mince, with punchy flavours, subtle chilli and hints of calamansi - a citrus fruit native to the Philippines.

We bought cashews from a street vendor, roasted them over a fire and ate them warm - a Filipino tradition. It was really nice to see my mum's joy in roasting them. We visited my sibling's old primary school where they showed me a cashew nut tree, also something I had never seen before. I was really taken by the fact that the cashew nut tree bears its own juicy, pear-shaped fruit, known as a cashew apple.

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Ube is a purple yam popular in the Philippines. Photo / Getty Images
Ube is a purple yam popular in the Philippines. Photo / Getty Images

Another one of my favourite food memories while travelling was at Chow King, an iconic Filipino food chain. I had the BEST halo-halo topped with ube ice cream. Halo-halo is a delicious traditional Filipino dessert which combines shaved ice, evaporated milk and lots of mix-ins. Despite it being a food chain, the halo-halo there was as true to what you would find at the local markets, if not better.

- William Mordido is chef and founder of pop up restaurant Buko

Returning to the Philippines saw William Mordido sampling native cuisine in its natural forms. Photo / Getty Images
Returning to the Philippines saw William Mordido sampling native cuisine in its natural forms. Photo / Getty Images

Ube Diplomat Creme creme Patissiere

Chef's tip: You'll find ube jam at Pino Plus and most Asian groceries

1 piece gelatine leaf
50g sugar
17g cornflour
90g egg yolk
75ml milk
75ml coconut cream
40g butter
75g ube jam
250ml cream
1-2 drops purple food colouring (optional - add as desired)

Method

1. Soak gelatine leaf in ice water to soften.
2. In a bowl whisk together half the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks until combined.
3. In a small pot, bring milk, remaining sugar and coconut cream to boil.
4. Slowly pour hot milk/coconut mix into the egg yolk mix.
5. Put back the liquid mixture into the pot and cook on medium heat whisking continuously.
6. Drain water from gelatine, squeeze excess liquid and add gelatine to the hot mixture.
7. Blend in the butter, ube jam and food colouring (optional). Cover, with cling film directly touching the mix, and chill in the fridge until set. This is the ube creme patissiere.
8. To complete the Ube Diplomat Creme Patissiere, beat the creme patissiere until smooth, whip the cream to soft peaks then gently fold in the whipped cream into the creme patissiere.
9. Allow to set in the fridge before serving.