Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Suman sa Ibus

Lola went to her home province for a visit, and she just got back!  She brought with her a bunch of suman sa ibus!  Suman is a kind of rice cake.  There are many kinds of rice cakes, which are essentially "cakes" made from rice.  In the local language, the different kinds of rice cakes have their own names but in English, they are just lumped together as rice cake!  Suman sa ibus is a rice cake made of glutinous (sticky) rice and coconut milk, wrapped in buri leaves and cooked in boiling water.

Lola's suman is an "authentic" one.  Her family, from generations past, were largely farmers and fishermen.  The suman she brought back is a recipe passed down for generations, and her family makes their suman from the rice that her (extended) family planted and harvested. Her suman is the kind that has big, firm grains and not sweet from having sugar.  The rice, being fresh and organic has its own inherent sweetness. The rice is naturally sticky, and it is sooooo good.

It is really unlike the ones that are commonly found in the markets these days - the ones I no longer buy because their grains are either "durog" (crushed or broken) or "buhaghag" (loosely packed) and in all cases, almost always sweet from sugar being added! 

In any case, Lola says that it is easy to make the suman.  The difficult part is in making the buri wrappings!  The term "ibus" precisely refers to this buri wrapping but the suman can be wrapped in banana leaves instead, although it can no longer be called suman sa ibus.

The recipe (according to Lola) is not really a secret because everyone in their town (and I suppose elsewhere as well) knows how to make it.  Besides, the real secret is making it without measuring!  Still, she gives the recipe with (more or less) measurements by way of ratios (not by weight)!

Soak 3 parts glutinous rice to 2 parts coconut milk about half an hour to an hour.  For every 450 grams of sticky rice, add 2 teaspoons of sea salt.  

While the rice is soaking, the buri wrapping is prepared.  (Sorry but I don't really get how the wrapping is done... it appears that there are many ways to do it, as long as the filling does not escape the wrapping!) 

Fill the buri wraps about 3/4 full.  Arrange the suman in a large pot and cover with water.  Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for about an hour, depending on the size of the individual suman.  To be sure, test one for doneness.  

When done, remove from the pot and cool.  

The suman is traditionally served with muscovado sugar or ripe mangoes on the side.   
Personally, I like the suman lightly fried and with crisp edges.  Hubby recently discovered that it is divine when the lightly fried suman is eaten with homemade ube halaya!

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