When I heard rice was the theme of the 4th ed. of Is My Blog Burning? I knew I had to participate. As a Filipina born and raised in Hawai'i, I grew up eating rice. I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner in all forms, usually as an accompaniment rather than a main dish. At first, I thought about featuring my "infamous" fried rice recipe, infamous for unusual additions of oyster sauce and ketchup, but then decided to make something sweet. Sticky. Something for dessert. What stands out from my childhood is suman, coconut-flavored sweet sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves. A traditional Filipino snack, suman is something my mother would bring home from the market by the dozens. As I researched more about this particular treat, I learned that most families got their suman from the market or bakery as well. No one I knew ever attempted to make it at home. I wondered, is suman really that hard and time consuming to make?
Thus began my suman experiment. Into a large pot:
3 cups sweet rice (soaked for 30 minutes, then washed and drained)
5 cups coconut milk
3 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
For a different touch, I added 3 cinnamon sticks (1.5-inch pieces) and 2-3 teaspoons vanilla. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cook until rice absorbs all liquid, approx. 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly and set aside.
Be sure to taste the rice--should not be too sweet. If you desire sweeter, see step below.
Cut 12-15 banana leaves into 5-inch by 7-inch pieces (if frozen, be sure to defrost first!) Soften the leaves by blanching in hot water for 15-20 seconds. Dry with paper towels. Take one leaf and place about 3-4 tablespoons of the rice filling along the center of the leaf. If the cooked rice wasn't sweet enough, you can add brown sugar at this point. Sprinkle about a tablespoon or two over the rice.
Roll up the banana leaf by folding in the two ends, then rolling into a log. Repeat with the rest of the banana leaves until you've used up all the filling.
Place the suman seam side down in a deep, wide pot. Add enough coconut milk to cover at least the first layer.
Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, covered, approx. 30-45 minutes.
Cool slightly, then unwrap and enjoy!
Suman will keep for several days. Do not refrigerate or rice will get hard. Best enjoyed fresh. Serve with ripe mango and extra brown sugar.
Thank you Chez Pim for hosting this great theme! Until next time...