Sticky rice cakes abound throughout South East Asia. In the Philippines, eating the local variation, known as suman, is a national pastime. Serve with latik sauce (see recipe below) or a simple mixture of sugar and grated coconut.
- 500 g glutinous rice (see Note)
- 500 g banana leaves (see Note)
- 1 tsp lye water (see Note)
- 400 ml tin coconut cream
- 165 g (¾ cup) brown sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.
Soaking time 6 hours
Soak the rice in cold water for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Cut the banana leaves into 25 cm x 25 cm squares, wash, then shake off excess water. Place a large gas burner on high heat. Pass each slightly damp leaf over the flame on both sides until the colour changes from light to dark green. This makes the leaves more pliable and easier to fold. Set aside.
Drain the rice from the soaking water, rinse and drain again. Add the lye water and mix to combine. Place ¼ cup of rice in the centre of each banana leaf. Bring two ends together and make a 1 cm fold at the top. Fold 2–3 more times until the rice is tightly wrapped. Tuck the open ends underneath and secure with kitchen twine so that you have a rectangle about 12 cm x 5 cm. Repeat with remaining rice and banana leaves. Place 2 parcels, seam-side outwards, together and secure with kitchen twine. Repeat with remaining parcels.
Place the rice parcels in a deep pot and cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 1½ hours until the rice is soft and cooked through.
Meanwhile, to make latik sauce, combine the coconut cream and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes until thickened and slightly reduced.
Serve rice cakes with latik sauce for dipping.
• Glutinous rice, also referred to as sticky rice, and banana leaves are available from Asian grocers.
• Food-grade lye water is available from some Asian grocers. If unavailable, omit.
Photography by Alan Benson