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Ahhhh, the holidays....with the parties, tree trimmings and gift exchanges comes a lot of sugar cookies, peppermint bark and fruitcake...it's delicious but after awhile we all get a bit burned out. If you're looking for something a bit off the beaten path for your next gathering, try making this Filipino sweet rice delicacy called- "biko." It's usually deserved at birthday parties, holidays and other celebratory events in the Phillipines. It's pretty simple to make and utilizes a minimal amount of ingredients; however, there are many variations of biko- some people like to add a little orange zest, others throw in some jackfruit strips (langka) or drizzle on some caramel. Do a little research and see what appeals to your palate.

Biko (adapted from a recipe by Ivory Hut)

Ingredients

3 cans (14 ounces) coconut milk

4 cups sweet rice (I used a brand called Sho-Chiku-Bai by Koda Farms available at SF Market)

2 cups light brown sugar

1 cup coconut cream (can be found at most Asian stores)

Instructions

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

- Wash sweet rice by swirling it in cold water and draining. Continue until water is clear. Set aside.

- Pour 3 cans of coconut milk and 1 cup of water into a large pot and let it come to a simmer over medium heat. Stir.

- While it's simmering, add in the rice and stir constantly to prevent burning. (Even if your arm gets tired, don't stop.) Lower the heat if necessary.

- When the rice is cooked, has absorbed the liquid and looks like risotto (about 15-25 minutes) then add 1 cup of brown sugar.

- (Note: If rice is already sticky but not yet fully cooked, add small amounts of water, stir and continue cooking. The rice must be fully cooked before it goes into the oven.)

- Stir well and take it off the heat. Pour it into a lightly buttered (or if you're preparing this for a vegan friend, use a vegan friendly product like those by Earth Balance) 9×13 pan and carefully smooth out the top.

- In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1 cup brown sugar and coconut cream until smooth and pour it evenly over the rice.


- Bake for about 1 hour or up to 1.5 hours, until topping is dark caramel brown and has thickened. (My biko took almost all of the 1.5 hours to cook.)

- Cool slightly before serving.
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