Childhood Treat: Ginataang Bilo Bilo (glutinous rice balls, sago + jackfruit in coconut milk)
It’s funny, I seem to be diggin’ desserts I loved as a kid even more as an adult! One theory was that it was due to my recent appreciation for specific elements. For instance, my recipe for Ginataang Bilo Bilo caters to my addiction to all things sago. Actually you know what, scrap that. I know what it is… I reckon it has to do with the fact that as we grow older, we’ve come to the sad sad SAD realisation that our metabolism is no longer working in our favour so when it comes to desserts my honey lova friend, we savour the sh*t out of it!
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to dining out, I look forward to dessert the most. It’s my kryptonite. In fact, when it comes to some of my favourite restaurants, I’d order the sweet stuff first before the mains come out. Don’t hate. I will not stand for “Oh, I’m too full for dessert blah blah wah wah” coming outta my mouth at the end of the meal. No. Nope. I may be wearing a watch, but I ain’t got time for that kinda foolishness!
On that note, may I present my recipe for Ginataang Bilo Bilo. ‘Ginataan‘ pretty much means anything cooked in coconut milk – sweet or savoury. In this case, think playful textures from the sticky rice balls that gets into all the crevices of your mouth in amongst a warm basin of creamy coconut milk swimming with chewy sago all sweetened by jackfruit and syrup. It’s the best winter comforter and it’s not too sweet either which makes for a great excuse to have seconds. Some even add saba bananas and sweet potato (kamote) but I like to keep mine simple.
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Glutinous rice balls
1¾ cups glutinous rice flour
½ cup water
¼ cup coconut milk
¾ cup small tapioca pearls
8 cups of water
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup coconut cream
2 cups water
1 can jackfruit, sliced (save all pieces uncooked for garnishing, and set aside half the syrup)
3/4 cup sugar
Put the glutinous rice flour into a large bowl. Gradually add the water and coconut milk while kneading continuously, until the mixture comes together and is smooth and firm.
Using your hands, form this dough into small balls – about the size of a marble. It should make about 20–25 balls. Set these aside on a dry, flat surface.
Now cook the tapioca pearls. Fill a large saucepan with 8 cups of water and bring to the boil. Add the tapioca pearls and stir gently from time to time, so they don’t stick together. Cook until the pearls are translucent or until they rise up (usually about 10 minutes). Don’t overcook!
Drain the tapioca pearls in a sieve and run them under cold water to prevent them from clumping together into DNA-like structures. Set aside in a bowl of cold water.
Using the same large saucepan, pour in the coconut milk, coconut cream, and water. Bring to the boil. Drop in the glutinous rice balls and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, carefully stirring occasionally to prevent the rice balls from sticking together.
Add the jackfruit syrup, sugar, and cooked tapioca pearls, and stir. Simmer for another 15 minutes, until the glutinous rice balls have softened.
TIPS: If you prefer a thinner sauce, add an additional cup of coconut milk. Adjust the sweetness by adding or subtracting the amount of jack fruit syrup.
This dish is best eaten hot, so scoop immediately into bowls and garnish with pieces of jackfruit.
You’ve been served!
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