June 20, 2011
Ginataang Bilo-Bilo for Kulinarya Cooking Club
This month's theme for Kulinarya is White to correspond for the wedding month of June chosen by Adora of Adora's Box and Diona of Tita Flips.
I made Ginataang Bilo-Bilo, a snack or dessert that consists of tubers like sweet potatoes, yams and cassava plus tropical fruits like saba (or burro) bananas and jackfruit. It may also include sago (tapioca) pearls and all are simmered in sweetened coconut milk that produces a creamy sweet confection.
They are sometimes called Ginataang Halo-Halo due to similarities to the assorted ingredients you would find in the popular shaved ice treat. But once you put little chewy nuggets of glutinous rice, it somehow gets renamed Ginataang Bilo-Bilo to let you know you'll be getting something extra special.
My children all loved having these little rice balls, especially after I made Ube-Coconut Rice Balls. They especially liked forming them with their little hands, just like the way I remembered when they played with Play-Doh. And while we are cooking them, I especially never tire of watching their surprised faces once the balls float to the top of the boiling water.
I remember eating bowlfuls of this growing up. My family would always make them by the pot. We served ourselves, ladle them out into bowls to enjoy straight away. This way is especially good for warming up during the cold and rainy season. But during the humid, hot summers I would place my bowl and in the fridge (in the freezer if I'm being impatient) and wait a little while to enjoy and savor each spoonful. When eaten cold, the coconut milk thickens even more giving it an almost pudding-like consistency.
This treat is naturally gluten- and dairy-free and very easy to make. Glutinous rice flour is available in Asian markets and Asian aisle of major supermarkets. Do not let the term glutinous confuse you, it does not have gluten. This only means that the rice flour is made from a sticky type of sweet rice.
serves about 6
1/2 cup dried sago pearls
1/2 light brown sugar
3/4 cup glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup water (more, if needed)
2-13.5 fl. oz. cans coconut milk
1 small cassava/yucca, peeled and cubed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
6 pods jackfruit, chopped
3 saba bananas, quartered lengthwise and chopped
1/2 cup sugar (or more to taste)
Prepare the sago pearls:
Place sago in a medium bowl and fill halfway with water. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking together. Strain the sago and rinse under cold water. Check for doneness. If still hard and chewy, repeat process or until the center of each pearl becomes translucent. Drain and rinse under cold water. Place sago back in pot with 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 cups of water. Heat until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and let it cool. Set Aside.
Prepare the bilo-bilo:
In a small bowl place rice flour. Stir in water and mix thoroughly. If needed, add water a tablespoon at a time until dough comes together. Dough should be firm but pliable. Shape a piece into a log shape about 1/4 inch in diameter. Cut 1/4 inch piece off the log and shape into balls. Set aside.
Bring a pot filled halfway with water and let it boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, lower heat to simmer and drop the rice balls, several at a time. Take them out as they float to the top. This takes about a minute to cook.
Prepare the Ginataan:
Place coconut milk and cassava into a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to low and let it simmer covered for 5 minutes.
Add the sweet potato and jackfruit. Stir in and let boil. Cover and let simmer 5 minutes.
Next to add is the bananas and sugar. Stir to combine and let it come to a boil another 5 minutes. Taste for sweetness, you may add more if you prefer it sweeter. Check for doneness of the cassava and potatoes and let it simmer until done. Do not let it boil over high heat, the potatoes may fall apart.
Add the sago (without the brown sugar syrup) and rice balls and simmer until heated through.
Enjoy right away warm. Any extra can be placed in the refrigerator and eaten cold.