At last we found some banana leaf here in New Zealand, I still remember I just asked one of my favorite food blogger Connie in her blog regarding a banana leaf replacement for this dish and nearly used what she had suggested until we saw a banana leaf in one of the Asian Shops here! It is frozen though, but at least we got some, this means we can now cook some rice cakes which we have been craving for quite sometime now. I grew up with a lot of rice cakes and traditional meriendas at home as my grandmother always prepare them for tea time snacks, but I was not attentive then so I only have a little idea on how things are prepared. I also remember being the only male at our home I was always tasked to mix the hard stuff like “ube halaya” a type of sticky purple yam jam, “yema” a sticky milk candy, and “pulot” a sugar palm coconut jam, and that gave birth to one of my best traits which is having a lot of “Patience”, it sounded like a training for Mr. Miyagi where you need to wax on and wax off.
For this recipe we won’t test your patience yet as we will be starting with an easy one to prepare, the beginners test drive for rice cakes and it is called “Suman”. Suman is one of the popular rice cakes in the Philippines which is made out of glutinous rice which is then wrapped in banana or palm leaves the cooked with lye or coconut milk. Once cooked this is then sprinkled with sugar or palm sugar sauce. There are a lot of suman varieties but for this one we will prepare the simplest one which is called suman sa Lihiya (Lye).
1/2 kg glutinous rice
1 tsp lihiya (lye water)
prepared banana leaves
400g palm sugar
2 can large coconut milk
1. Prepare the banana leaves by cutting it into roughly 10 x 10 inch squares, run it through an open flame (stove top fire or even charcoal) quickly just enouogh to release the leaf oil, prevent it from burning.
2. Soak the glutinous rice in 1 can coconut milk for 1.5 hours.
3. Drain the rice and mix in the lye water. Mix well until it becomes yellow in color.
4. Now place the 3 tablespoonfuls of rice into a piece of leaf and roll it to wrap. Once all rolled up fold the two ends then tie a knot accross to prevent it from opening.
5. Now do that for the rest, once finished place the suman itno a big pot with enough water to cover.
6. Bring to boil and simmer for 2 hours.
7. Now on a separate pot add 1 can coconut milk and 400g palm sugar. In low heat melt the palm sugar while mixing continously, once totally melted bring to a boil but in low heat. Once boiling lower the heat further and mix it continously for 30 minutes or until the sauce thickens (The conistency you are looking for is like a maple syrup).
8. Now remove and unwrap the suman and pour palm sugar syrup on top.