In some parts of the country, steamed rice with coconut and sugar isn’t referred to as suman, but rather puto or malagkit. I have featured two such concoctions before, one from an office merienda in Cebu, another made by one of crew, Leny, the expert in simple provincial kakanins and the resident floral manager. Click on the links to previous posts for more background if you are curious. I also recalled a purple biko made with kalamansi rind and I was toying with potential variations that might make sense. So out came some wonderful purple pirurtong sticky rice that I found a the weekend markets, some freshly squeezed coconut milk, some fresh ginger, crystalized ginger and granulated sugar. The resulting puto pirurutong was EXCELLENT.
First we started with 1 kilo of pirurutong or purple sticky rice. We soaked this for 2-3 hours until the grains had absorbed some of the water. Purple rice can be incredibly hard, and takes much longer to cook than white sticky rice, so the soaking process is essential, in my opinion.
I had a beautiful whole piece of crystalized ginger from a recent trip to Vietnam, so I took about 3 inches worth of it and blitzed it with some sugar until it was a fine ginger/sugar. Add some finely chopped pieces for some texture and bite. This addition to the puto pirurutong was inspired, and ultimately, delicious.
Okay, to make. Take the soaked rice and drain, then put in a steamer with lots of water in the lower pot and add several large slices of fresh ginger to the water so that the rice receives a fragrant ginger steam bath and the flavor of ginger infuses the rice for some 25-30 minutes until partially cooked. The pirurutong will still be a little firm at this point.
Meanwhile squeeze out some 3 and 1/2 cups of coconut cream and reduce this over medium heat for say 10 minutes until slightly thickened, then add 3/4 cup white sugar and stir until dissolved and add 1 teaspoon of kosher or other rock salt (not iodized table salt). Then in a large bowl, mix the rice that has been steamed for 30 minutes with the coconut milk mixture. The hot rice will absorb the coconut milk and it should look a bit like a purple risotto.
Mix in the crystalized giner and sugar and return to the steamer and cook for another 50-65 minutes. The variation in time is dependent on the size of your steamer, the holes in the steamer, and the strength of the flame. Take it off when it is firm but clearly cooked through; taste it before removing from the heat. You need to move the rice around a bit, or poke holes in the mass of rice to ensure that the steam is making it through… In simple provincial style, this is apportioned to squares of banana leaves and wrapped up in a conical shape. Serve warm or after it has cooled.
A little goes a long way. The rice is fragrant and substantial on its own, but paired with rich coconut cream and the sweetness combined with flavor and slight heat of ginger, this was a definite winner. I can only have a few spoons full of this heavenly concoction at a time, but whether on its own, or with a beautiful slice of ripe mango, this was incredibly satisfying comfort food. To jazz it up a bit, serve with some crystalized ginger sugar sprinkled on top.
It looks good, has a nice fragrance and tastes great. Couldn’t have hoped for much more. :)