02 Aug2006


My memories of palitao are not particularly fond. So I was surprised when it ranked in the upper 30 pal3Pinoy desserts in the recent poll we took. I recall a relatively bland, chewy dessert that did not leave a lasting impression. Since I had never made palitao before, I decided to give it a try and see if I could appreciate it now that I am older, possibly wiser, and certainly shorter than in my youth. Talk about making something out of just a few ingredients! Malagkit (glutinous rice), water, grated coconut and sugar! Talk about being accessible and doable by just about anyone in the archipelago! If I ever get stuck on a deserted island with rice and sugar I can have a massive palitao buffet for wayward survivors of sunken ferries…

To make, take several cups of malagkit or glutinous rice and soak it in double the amount of water for at least 8 hours. Grind the rice in a stone grinder until this paste-y mess. I didn’t have pal4a stone grinder, so I blitzed the soaked rice in a food processor with some of the soaking water until pretty fine. I have to admit this was not the best way to do it as I was increasingly anxious that it wasn’t fine enough…and I did several minutes of blitzing. I’m told you can easily buy the ground malagkit at the market, our cook belatedly informs me… Alternatively, you can buy some rice flour if abroad and mix it with water and knead. Once blitzed, I wrapped the mush in a clean kitchen towel and squeezed it to remove excess moisture. The resulting white sludge is in the photo at right.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Take some of the rice mixture and form it into small balls and flatten them into oblongs. Drop them into the boiling water and once they float to the surface, pal2they are done. How simple was that? Remove from the water, pat dry and roll in freshly grated young coconut (younger than the stage you use to extract coconut milk). Sprinkle with white sugar, brown sugar and sesame seeds in whatever combination you prefer. Freshly made, it was surprisingly good. The slight chewiness of the rice rake, the texture and flavor of really fresh young coconut and the sweetness of the sugar made for a very satisfying and easy dessert/snack. My favorite version was the one with the medium dark brown sugar and coconut. Next favorite was with brown sugar and sesame seeds and the plainest one with white sugar and coconut was pretty good as well. The thing with palitao is that I think it is good for a limited amount of time… if freshly made with excellent ingredients, it can be simply delicious, if poorly made it can be like a lump of rice and elmer’s glue in your mouth and stomach… To ensure success, start with superb grated coconut, stuff you would eat by itself, some excellent brown sugar, and use fresh sesame seeds that you have toasted just before using!



  1. millet says:

    i like palitao with panocha and sesame seeds, and i put crushed pandan leaves in the water in which the palitao are cooked. MM, both powdered rice and powdered malagkit are readily available in the local supermarkets in davao, so i’m sure they must be available in Manila supermarkets, too.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 7:06 am


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  3. Danney League says:

    Palitao is so easy to make but what makes it so good is the sesame seeds, sugar and freshly grated coconut. Without those 3 key ingredients, palitao will be like a bland boiled malagkit rice. Don’t forget the pandan leaves while cooking the patties. A very simple and basic dessert but worth eating.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 7:26 am

  4. Apicio says:

    That drained malagkit paste that you made into palitaw is in fact the basic play-dough of the Asian kitchen. It becomes bilo-bilo for ginataan when formed into aggie sized balls; made into golf sized balls and flattened, it can serve as wrapping for mung, taro or ubi paste that can then be either steamed, baked or fried. Diluted, sweetened and steamed, it becomes tikoy. It finds endless variety of use too in the South East Asia kuéh. It is also used as purse for minced pork and spring onions and served as a delicious dimsum offering (Chinese á la carte, I say) together with another golf ball sized one that is coated with sesame enveloping a ball of sweet lotus paste each and everyone a potential stodgy ballast in your digestive tract if you consume one too many.

    A similar paste made out of mochico powdered glutenous rice does not taste the same and causes a lot of grief in handling. Sticks like glue.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 8:30 am

  5. erleen says:

    yum. yum. yum.

    sarap nito with sago and gulaman. =)

    Aug 2, 2006 | 9:42 am

  6. Mila says:

    Reading the post and Apicio’s comment makes me think that it wouldn’t hurt to grate some good chocolate over freshly made palitaw… Or how about palitaw with peanut butter?

    Aug 2, 2006 | 10:32 am

  7. VMA says:

    Mila, in Malaysia, the soft sesame cake called mah chi, the equivalent of our palitaw is eaten with ground peanuts. Palitaw is also known as Dila-dila in southern tagalog because it is shaped like the tongue! For me, palitaw is always eaten with freshly grated coconut AND toasted BLACK sesame seeds, pounded fine and mixed with organic MASCOBADO sugar served in
    a piece of banana leaf. It does taste better.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 1:18 pm

  8. Bubut says:

    the way we cook our palitaw is after getting it from the hot water, we dump it in cold water then lift it again to dry it for the next step in dumping it to grated coconut.

    love those palitaw!

    Aug 2, 2006 | 2:03 pm

  9. Sylvia says:

    Oooh, palitao. Brings back summer merienda memories from years long gone by. We once had a kusinera who was from Quezon Province so of course her specialties were dishes that had anything coconut in it. Every day for the whole summer, our merienda would be kakanin with niyog or gata. It was good – maja blanca, palitao, binignit, sinukmani, etc. But, my God, how much coconut can you take on a daily basis?

    Aug 2, 2006 | 2:43 pm

  10. Gigi says:

    When I need a palitaw fix, I hit Via Mare. P34 and I’m good.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 3:57 pm

  11. virgilio says:

    I like my palitaw with sesame seeds which you roast and grind to make them aromatic and slightly oily. Ground sesame seeds, when mixed with sugar and fresh coco flakes, make the palitaw an excellent treat. I also love palitaw cooked in syrup made by, if I remember right, cooking to a boil combined coco milk, brown sugar, and “latik”. I guess pandan leaves are used for added flavor.

    Aug 2, 2006 | 4:42 pm

  12. Christine says:

    Palitao!!! I love palitao! It’s one of my most favorite kakanins!

    Aug 3, 2006 | 5:55 pm

  13. Ciela says:

    Yup it’s my favorite too. My earliest memory of this dessert is watching my yaya cook it, and waiting for it to float. That’s why it’s “palitaw”. I love it with panocha too. I love this chewy delicacy. It’s not as popular but I’m glad Via Mare serves it. It’s simple yet delicious! Yum yum!

    Aug 4, 2006 | 12:35 am

  14. juls says:

    i find Bacolod’s version of the palitaw more delectable… it’s called INDAY-INDAY for reasons i don’t know. it’s usually eaten at the beach and with lots of sesame-muscovado sugar as dip…. yumeee….

    Aug 6, 2006 | 1:05 am

  15. marissewalangkaparis says:

    I remember my mom making this from a flour like pack when we used to live in Okinawa..This turns out to be the glutinous rice flour. Mix to a dough like consistency. Boil water. Make balls. Flatten to either tongue shaped or round ones. Drop into boiling h20. When they rise. Voila! Dunk in coconut,sugar with sesame. My hubby loves this for breakfast!! So easy to make. Sarap!
    Variations could be instead of coconut,chopped peanuts,our muscovado. MMMMMMMmmm…

    Nov 19, 2008 | 5:30 pm


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