Wednesday, July 11, 2012

#348_Old-Fashioned Suman at Katiba

This is my all-time childhood kakanin. I enjoy eating it with Katiba, specially with ripe mangoes and Pancit Guisado. Mmmmmm!

My mother has been making this suman ever since I can remember. For her it is usually a 3-day ritual, making the Katiba one day, prepping the banana leaves the next day, then the following day she would make several batches of suman so she can give some away to friends and neighbors (pangregalo) specially during holiday season. Unfortunately, none of her four girls including yours truly have attempted to make it.

When I called her up last week to tell her that I finally replicated her suman recipe, she got so emotional. The reason probably was because finally somebody in the family can carry on her legacy of suman making (sistahs, got the hint?). I told her that I've missed her suman and I've always wanted to make them when I got here in the US. My problem has been that I've never have access to the banana midribs which she uses to tie the suman. The leaves that are available here are frozen and the midribs have been removed. Now, I've solved the problem by using toothpicks to secure the flaps, an idea of which I got on the web just recently.

This Suman is a kind that doesn't have any sugar added in the rice mixture. The sweetener and flavor come from the coconut caramel sauce or Katiba. So beware, if you eat this by itself, it's bland. There's not much taste to it, just like eating mashed potatoes without the gravy or eating spaghetti without Spaghetti Sauce on it. That's why this Suman is best accompanied by Coconut Caramel Sauce or Katiba in Pangasinan, Matamis na Bao in Tagalog. Although you can dip them in white sugar just like how we had done when mother was unable to make the Katiba, the taste is not the same as when it is eaten with katiba. It is so amazing that the katiba brings out the flavor of the suman.

After posting pictures of this Suman on my FaceBook page the other day, I received some requests from friends and fans on there for the recipe and the instructions on how to wrap the suman. Actually the suman recipe itself is super easy to make, but I'll try my best to write down the instructions step-by-step on how to form the banana leaves into "cone cups". Please bear with me. Here it goes.....

                                                 Preparing the Glutinous Rice:
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 Rinse 4 cups glutinous rice with cold water. Discard water.
 In a bowl, combine glutinous rice, 1 can coconut milk and 1 Tb salt.
Let soak for at least 4 hours (best soaked overnight).

 Prepare the banana leaves.... 

  1) Wash then dry the banana leaves 
(I placed the leaves in a pan then poured very hot water in it to welt them)
2) with a pair of scissors, trim off the midribs, leaving  skinny edges.

 Forming the banana leaves  into "cone cups":

1) Tear up the leaves into about 5-6 inches wide
2) take the top right corner.....

                                       3) bring it towards you and at the same time rolling it up.....

                      4) continue rolling it up until the whole leaf  is wrapped around itself and is shaped like a cone.
                                               Now you're ready to fill the cups with the rice....

5) With one hand holding the cone-shaped leaf, lightly spoon a heaping tablespoonful (more or less depending on the size of the cones) of the soaked rice into it. (Don't fill it up high so you can close the flap and don't press down the rice so there's some room for the rice to expand while boiling it).

               6) push in the side facing you which is the shortest side, covering the rice.....
                                       7) fold over the left side with your thumb, then the right side or vise versa....

8) Fold down the back side which is a pointy side and bring it to the front, tucking the outer leaf under....
        9) then secure the flaps with strong toothpicks. Use bamboo toothpicks as they are much stronger than the wood kind.
10) Arrange the suman in a big pot; cover it with cold water. On a medium heat bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium low; simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Start testing for doneness after 1 hour 15 minutes.

Place cooked Suman in a colander to drain.

11) Serve suman with Katiba and ENJOY!!


How to make the Coconut Caramel Sauce or Katiba
 or Matamis na Bao:

This is the only kind of hard sugar that I can find. In the Pangasinan, we use what we call "Sinakob" which is a solidified molasses from sugar cane and look like halved coconut or convex shaped usually packed together. At the Asian store, I saw similar ones, but they are "palm sugar".

In a pot, dissolve the "sinakob" with a can of coconut milk over low heat. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes thick. That's it! but here's a caveat for you....this process takes a lot of patience as it takes a long time to thicken the mixture. It took me about 1 hour to get the consistency that I wanted, which is a pourable consistency. Here's an idea: if you don't want to make katiba from scratch, you can use the store-bought Coconut Jam sold at the Asian or Filipino stores. And here's another idea that I still need to try: take a can of Dulce de Leche and dilute it with some coconut milk and heat it up on the stove over low heat, (maybe microwave will do). Dulce de Leche are available in Mexican stores or you can make your own Dulce de Leche by boiling a can of unopened condensed milk for 1 hour...a process that I still need to try one day.