Sweet sticky rice cakes are very popular across South East Asia. In the Philippines, the local variation, suman, is rice cooked in coconut milk and steamed in banana leaves. This recipe is inspired by a suman I tried from a street food vendor in Antipolo City, Manila. The rice was perfectly steamed and the flavours were lifted by a drizzle of sweetened coconut sauce. These rice cakes are also beautiful when served simply with wedges of fresh mango and a sprinkling of toasted coconut.
- For the coconut sauce, combine to coconut cream and sugar in a medium saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring ever now and again, for 10 or so minutes, until the mixture has thickened and reduced slightly. Set aside.
- Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine rice, coconut milk and salt. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every so often, until the rice becomes very sticky and almost dry.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
- To prepare the banana leaves, cut the leaves into 25cm x 25cm squares, wash, then shake off any excess water. Turn on the flame of a gas cook top to high heat. Carefully pass each slightly damp leaf over the flame on both sides until the colour of the leaf changes from light to dark green. This makes the leaf easier to fold. Set aside.
- Place ¼ cup of rice in the centre of each banana leaf. To fold, bring two ends toeher 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 12cm x 5cm. Repeat with remaining rice and banana leaves.
- Fill a saucepan with water to about halfway. Bring to the boil. Place tied banana leaves into a steamer basket and position over the pot of simmering water. Place a lid securing on top of the steamer basket and steam over medium heat for 45 minutes, until rice is soft and cooked through.
- Remove from steamer and serve with warmed coconut jam and fresh mango.
Recipe: Kate Olsson
Photography: Kate Olsson