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Pinoy Christmas favourites: How to make 'Puto Bumbong' at home

Puto bumbong is a Filipino purple rice cake steamed in bamboo tubes. It is traditionally sold during the Christmas season. Source: SBS Filipino

Puto bumbong is a Filipino delicacy traditionally served during Christmas season in the Philippines. For self-confessed foodie Geraldine Cleeman, Christmas and Simbang Gabi are not complete without eating Puto Bumbong after the dawn mass.

'Puto bumbong' is a Filipino delicacy traditionally served during Christmas season in the Philippines. It literally translates to steamed glutinous rice (puto) cooked in bamboo (bumbong). The rice is usually wrapped in banana leaves and then served with warm butter or margarine, coconut flakes and brown sugar.

For cook enthusiast and self-confessed foodie Geraldine Cleeman, no Filipino Christmas and Simbang Gabi are ever complete without 'puto bumbong'.

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"After Simbang Gabi (night mass) we queue for puto bumbong. Sometimes it's the reason why people go to church. It's part of our tradition. It's so delicious and the taste is unique that's why people line up. You would sometimes see the line for puto bumbong is longer compared to people coming to church."

At the age of 8, Geraldine started to master the art of cooking Filipino cakes. Thanks to Clara Ignacio, Geraldine's late mother who is from the island of Leyte in Eastern Visayas. The locals of the island called Warays are known to be lovers of kakanin (sticky rice cakes).

"My mum is a Waray. Warays love kakanin especially malagkit (sticky rice) and all the food cooked in coconut milk. During Christmas or birthday celebrations, we cook these kinds of treats."

Geraldine Cleeman mastered the art of cooking Filipino cakes at an early age with the help of her late mother Clara Ignacio.
Geraldine Cleeman mastered the art of cooking Filipino cakes at an early age with the help of her late mother Clara Ignacio.
SBS Filipino

While puto bumbong is traditionally cooked using a bamboo tube steamer, Geraldine says that even if you don't have that, it is still possible to make them at home using a regular steamer. Alternative ingredients are also readily available at any Asian grocery store or Filipino shops.

Ms Geraldine Cleeman shares her very own version of the famous puto bumbong.

Puto Bumbong, purple-colored sticky rice that must first be soaked, dried overnight, then steamed in bamboo shoots.The rice is usually wrapped in banana leaf.
Puto Bumbong, purple-colored sticky rice that must first be soaked, dried overnight, then steamed in bamboo shoots.The rice is usually wrapped in banana leaf.
SBS Filipino/ Getty images

 

Geraldine's Puto Bumbong ( without using the bamboo steamer)

Prep time: 30 mins

Cook time: 20 mins

Total time: 50 mins

Serves: 15-20 pcs

Ingredients:

2 cups white glutinous rice

1 cup black glutinous rice (pirurutong)

1 cup muscovado or palm sugar

1 cup grated fresh coconut

margarine ( to spread when puto is cooked and ready to serve)

water ( enough to soak the rice)

Procedure

1. In a large bowl combine both types of glutinous rice, add enough water to fully soak them and leave in a cool place for 24 hours.

2. Fully drain your rice then place them in a food processor or a blender, pulse to have a grainy wet consistency and add a bit of water while grinding them. You need to achieve a gritty but fine consistency similar to moist sand.

 3. Place the mixture in a lightly greased shallow tray, place in a steamer then steam for 20 minutes in really high heat or until cooked and tender.

4. Remove the cooked Puto Bumbong from the tray. Slice and shape into small cylinders. Place on a banana leaf-lined plate then spread some margarine on top, generously sprinkle it with freshly grated coconut and some palm sugar granules then serve.

Grated cheese is an option if you do not like coconut as a topping.

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