Monday, August 27, 2012

Suman sa Lihiya (Glutinous Rice with Lye Wrapped in Banana Leaves)

Let’s go back a little bit to one of my previous post before I start with what I have for all of you today.  I did a guest post for Tina via her blog of Pinay In Texas Cooking Corner, sharing one of our popular Malaysian recipes, the Sotong/Squids Sambal With Petai (Stinky Beans). As the opening for this recipe, I started off with an intro on my friendship with Tina and how we got to know each other. We are still good friends though we are miles away. That does not stop us from being in touch with each other because our recipes and blogs bring us together at least once a week.

I have always been intrigued and curious on recipes originating from the Philippines.  I have seen some amazing Filipino recipes from Tina, not only on her blog but also on her Facebook page. All I did was to send Tina an email, requesting her for a Filipino recipe and she forwarded an amazing Filipino dessert recipe.

I don't have to go on any further about Tina and her recipe.  Just follow through from here on for all the details.  

Hi everyone! I'm Tina, the mommy blogger behind Pinay In Texas Cooking Corner. I am a Filipina (a.k.a. Pinay), who was born and raised in the Philippines but is now living here in Texas, USA with my husband and 2 daughters. I am honored to be here today to share with you a favorite snack in the Philippines. Thanks to Nava for inviting me!

As with most Asian countries, rice is the staple food in our country. Most Filipinos love eating rice. It's something we enjoy not only during the regular meals of the day...but also during snack time in the form of kakanin (sweet delicacies).

One of the popular rice snacks in the Philippines is called Suman which is basically glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves and cooked either by boiling or steaming. There are many variations of suman and one of them is called Suman sa Lihiya. This kind of suman is yellowish in color and that is because of the lihiya (lye) which is added to the rice before it is wrapped in banana leaves. Unlike other suman which are long and tube-like, Suman sa Lihiya is typically square or rectangle in shape. It is boiled in water for a couple of hours which makes the banana leaves turn brown thereby giving the suman a darker yellow color.

The manner of cooking this suman varies from region to region. In some regions, the glutinous rice is wrapped in banana leaves after adding the lihiya...while in some, the glutinous rice is half-cooked in coconut cream after soaking in liya just before wrapping in banana leaves. I have tried both and I must say that I prefer the latter. Cooking the glutinous rice in coconut cream makes it easier to wrap and the suman becomes a lot softer and tastier. This manner of cooking is what I'm going to share with you...

So sit back, relax and enjoy the step-by-step procedure I prepared for you. Making suman sa lihiya may be a bit complicated and time consuming because of all the wrapping you have to make, but I tell you it's all worth it! I also included the procedure in making the coconut caramel sauce that Suman sa Lihiya is usually served with in Batangas (my dad's province). Some people eat their suman with just sugar sprinkled on top. Well, that's good but coconut caramel sauce will make your suman even better!

For the sauce:
·  1 can (14oz.) coconut cream
·  2 cups brown sugar if doing method 1 and 2 cups white sugar plus 2 Tbsp water if doing method 2
For the suman:
Yield 26 pcs.
·  4 cups sweet rice
·  4 tsp lye
·  1 cup white sugar
·  1 can (14oz.) coconut cream
* You will need banana leaves and kitchen twine for wrapping.
For the  sauce:
Method 1:
Put coconut cream and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is melted. Adjust heat to low and cook mixture for about 20 minutes or until it thickens.
Method 2: (For this, use white sugar)
Put sugar and 2 Tbsp water in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until sugar dissolves. After sugar dissolves and syrup is simmering, cook for 3 minutes without stirring. Slowly add coconut cream while stirring. If syrup hardens, just keep on stirring until it melts again. Simmer for 10 minutes or until syrup and coconut cream are well incorporated.
For the suman:
1. Wash rice and then soak in water for at least 3 hours. 
2. While rice is being soaked, prepare banana leaves. Clean them by wiping with wet paper towel then with a dry one. Pass the banana leaves one by one over flame to make it easy to fold. We have a ceramic glass cooktop, so I just put each piece of leaf on top of it until soft but not burnt. Cut into 2"x10" pieces. You will need about 78 pcs.
3. Drain water from rice. Add lye water into rice and stir thoroughly. You will notice that the rice will turn yellowish. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Put rice and 1 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Pour coconut cream into it and stir thoroughly. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until rice is half done. Stir frequently to avoid sticking into the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and allow to cool down.
5. Cut a 2"x"10" piece of banana leaf into two. Lay them on a flat surface. Scoop about 4 Tbsp of the half-cooked rice on the center. Lift the top and left sides of the crossed banana leaves and fold towards the center. Do the same with the lower and right ends. Your suman will be about 2.25"x2.25" inch in size. Lay a 2"x10" piece of banana leaf and carefully put the suman on one end of the leaf leaving about 2 inches. Lift the lower end of the leaf and fold towards the center, then gently roll the suman away from you. Lay another 2"x10" piece of banana leaf and carefully put the suman on one end of the leaf with the folded part in perpendicular position. Gently roll it away from you.
6. Wrap another suman. Pair these two with the folded sides together. Using a kitchen twine, tie the 2 suman together tightly.
7. Repeat procedures 5 & 6 until all the cooked rice are used up. Arrange suman in a big pot and cover with water. Cook over medium heat for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from heat. Drain cooking water and allow to completely cool down. 
8. Unwrap when ready to eat and serve with coconut caramel sauce.
*You may store your leftover suman in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, just peel the banana leaves off, and heat up in the microwave covered with a wet paper towel for 45sec to 1 min.

*Lye water is a strong alkali solution (caustic soda) and an essential ingredient for some rice cake cuisines in the Philippines such as suman sa lihiya and kutsinta. This liquid makes the rice cake yellowish in color and firm and elastic in texture. In Chinese cooking, lye is a common ingredient used for their noodles and dumplings. Lye is also used to cure and preserve olives, fish (especially in the nordic regions), and seafood like squid. It also gives hard pretzels their characteristic brown color and texture and is also used in bagel making. However, it can also be harmful when swallowed directly. It can also burn or irritate your skin. So be sure to take precaution when using it, and use the exact measurement. When properly cooked and mixed into the batter, the lye is reduced to a harmless state, and it serves its function of giving the rice cake a good texture and added color.

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  1. Brilliant recipe with the step by step wrapping pics. This should make it easier for me to replicate when I try this out.

  2. The step-by-step photos and instructions definitely lends a better preview of what to expect when making this delicious dessert. Being a Malaysian, I love anything wrapped in banana leaves :)

  3. yummy!! gosh!! i never had this in my life before.. :D where can i get one of those ms.nava?

  4. Nava, thank you so much for having me here! I am truly grateful to you for inviting me over!

  5. A good recipe from Tina.
    I like the way she always posts her recipe with step by step pictures.

  6. Thank you Tina for such a beautiful guest post :)

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. Easy to understand and follow instructions and tutorial, thanks.

  8. Always a great recipe from Tina! She is a talented cook and this Asian style rice dessert looks delicious.

  9. Found Tina guest posting here, so I'm back! Great tutorial. Both of u are doing a great job!

  10. I've never had this dish before in my life, but knowing Tina it must be delicious. Thanks Tina for introducing me to yet another new yummy looking dish.

    Nava-K is an informative blog.

  11. Thanks for the kind words everyone! Glad to be here at! :)

  12. This looks delicious, my grandma used to make something good :)
    Thanks for the recipe Tina and nice meeting you Nava.

    1. Thanks for dropping by Nava's blog, Juliana! Hugs!

  13. Tina, I cannot describe how amazing you are as a home cook! I've been following your blog all this time and you always have so many kinds of dishes. This glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves looks and sounds so good!!! So neat!

    1. Thanks Nami! But admit it or not, you are equally amazing!

  14. What an elegant dessert! This is a dessert that I expect to find in a fancy restaurant, not in someone's home. If I ever do see it, I will definitely pay to give it a try! It sounds so wonderfully delicious! What a fabulous post! Nava, it's nice to meet you. Headed to check out your site.

  15. When it comes to authentic Filipino dishes, Tina is the master cook. Her cooking always make me miss home. Thank you for having her on your beautiful blog, Nava. It's nice meeting you! :)

  16. Thanks to Tina for doing the guest post and to the rest of my fellow bloggers, appreciate all the lovely comments.

  17. This snack looks so yummy! The preparation seems to take some efforts though because we need to wrap the content one by one by using banana leaf - just like typical Indonesian desserts! But I know it worth the effort because the banana leaf can give a really nice fragrance for the snack when served!


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