Even before the LEAP (the coaching program I am active in) ended, I told myself that I will share with you a delicacy that Filipinos love but are not making too often nowadays. Their busy schedules may not permit them to. And maybe, just my theory, the old folks who used to do this, may not have the energy anymore to do them.
Suman is a general term used to describe a rice cake or a sweetened root crop wrapped in leaves. Commonly used to wrap these cakes are banana leaves though some varieties uses palm leaves. Some even got their names from the leaf they were wrapped in. *wink*
The memory of this snack that I am about to share with you goes back to my childhood days when, during fiestas or big family celebrations, is always present. Not nowadays though, for according to the one who used to do this for us, the process of making these is tedious. I did not argue, until recently.
Due to the length of time being consumed when making this suman traditionally, it's not everyday that someone will make it at home for personal consumption. Why? Mainly because of the notion and belief that this is such a difficult thing to do.
A friend of mine believed so as well. In one of our road trips, she saw this type of suman in one of the stores and was eager to buy one. I told her not to and I will just make some for her. You know what she told me?
" You are not a normal person. Sumans are bought, not made at home!"
I told her I am serious and she swore, that indeed, I am weird. She loves me, huh? I forbid her to buy and yes, I made one for her and for my friends when we returned home. She still believes I am an alien while devouring in the freshly made Suman sa Lihiya right from my own kitchen.
So, here is the modern and easy recipe for a sweet and bring-me-back-to-childhood suman. I learned this by the way from one of the cooking classes I attended to...I put some twist of my own of course *wink*
Suman sa Lihiya with Latik (Wrapped Rice Cake with Coco-Butter Syrup)
Print this Recipe
For the Rice Cake
2 cups glutinous rice (malagkit)
2 cup whole grain rice
water for soaking rice
4 cups water
1 Tbsp Lihiya or Lye (food grade)
1 cup coconut cream
1 cup brown sugar (segunda in Filipino or the partially refined sugar)
For the Coco- Butter Syrup
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup muscovado sugar or raw sugar; you can also use grated panucha or hardened sugar
1/4 cup salted butter
1Tbsp glutinous rice flour
fresh banana leaves, cut into about 6"x10", about 16 pieces, have extra just in case one or two tears apart
16 pieces cotton strings cut about 14 inches in length.
grated coconut meat (optional)
Prepare the Rice
1. Combine the two types of rice, rinse twice and drain. Put enough water just to cover rice and soak for at least an hour.
TRIVIA: Soaking rice before cooking is a traditional way of preparing this grain. Rice grains absorbs water that makes cooking time shorter and gives a good texture to it as well.
2. After an hour, drain rice and add 4 cups of fresh water. Add the Lihiya (lye) and mix well. Water will turn pale yellow.
WHAT IS THE LYE FOR? : lye gives this suman a distinct flavor plus lye gives rice cakes it's gooey texture or in Tagalog "kunat"
3. Cook rice about 30 to 35 minutes. If using rice cooker, let the equipment time itself *wink*
Prepare the leaves
In an open flame, run over your banana leaves one at a time to wilt and steam it a bit. We do this so leaves will not break when we wrap the rice later. Set aside.
Prepare the Syrup
1. In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients except for the butter. Mix well until lumps from glutinous rice flour are gone.
2. Under low flame, simmer mixture until thick, about 5 minutes. Careful not to boil. Why? We do not want the coco milk to coagulate, do we? we are looking for a syrupy texture just like that of a maple syrup *wink*
3. Before your 5 minutes ends, add the butter and mix well. Set aside.
Let's go back to the rice.
1. Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and add coco cream and sugar. Mix well until well blended. Careful not to burn yourself.
2. Measure 1/2 cup of prepared rice and place them on the lighter green side of the banana leaf. Wrap it up like you would your sandwich. Do this to the remaining rice.
3. When you are done wrapping everything, let's tie them up together. Why? So they will not burst and keep their shape. Get two pieces and place them together where the flaps of the leaves are in between the two suman.
4. Using the cotton string, tie one end and then the other. There is no exact science here, just tie it up however you want, although it's suggested you use a knot where it can be pulled off easily later on.
5. Do this to the rest of the suman.
Do you see the one lone ranger there? I intentionally did that for later use (whispering) photo *wink*
Let's finish this up!
Using a steamer or a make shift one, it does not matter as long as you can steam these babies, steam the suman for 10 minutes. Make sure to give room for the suman to expand, for it will. Just a few centimeters apart.
After 10 minutes, remove suman from heat and allow to cool a bit.
Unwrap a suman and pour over coco butter syrup on top. You may also serve this with grated coconut meat as an option.
Makes about 8 pairs or 16 pieces of suman by the way *wink*
You may be wondering, "Why did she say modern way?".
It is because, traditionally, you soak rice with the lye for at least 2 hours. Wrap the uncooked rice (harder to handle than the cooked one) with the banana leaves and boil them in water for at least two hours or until rice is cooked.
Traditional or modern? Your choice :)