There was so much reaction (positive as well as ignorant) to my post on red rice a few days ago that I thought I would add another post on these three interesting malagkit (glutinous rice) varieties that my rice suki Michael had in stock recently. Glutinous seems like an inappropriate description as there is no gluten in rice (itâ€™s a bread thing) but what it describes really is a â€œstickyâ€ rice as opposed to say Jasmine or Basmati that has rather dry and separate grains when cooked. The stickiness of rice is driven by a certain type of starch and the higher the percentage of this starch, the â€œstickier the rice.â€ Malagkit has a very high percentage of this sticky starch. Malagkit grains are generally short and rounded and look a little similar to Italian Arborio or other risotto suitable grains. They absorb liquid (water or in the case of many sweet Filipino rice cakes, coconut milk) in a different manner resulting in a unique texture of the finished product.
I was intrigued by three different varieties of sticky rice on offer. The first was a red malagkit variety that was grown in Bontoc, Mt. Province and differs from the regular non-sticky red rice I wrote about in the earlier post. At PHP85 a kilo, this was nose-bleed material but I got just half a kilo to try it out and to experience something new. Second was a deep purple tapol from Mindoro that I have used several times before for a stunning deep purple suman we make here at home. At PHP80 a kilo it is also wickedly expensive. Finally, my suki had a white malagkit variety from Calamba, Laguna that was a good basic rice for a white suman or other similar rice cakes. This was the most reasonably priced variety at PHP45 a kilo. When I want to extend my purple suman and reduce its intensity, I mix half white malagkit with the purple malagkit. However, you have to be careful to cook the grains enough as the purple rice takes longer to cook. The outcome is still a stunning purple suman that is fragrant and delicious.
Because most rice vendors carry mostly white plain rice varieties, the more unique or artisanal and organic varieties are rarely seen by most Filipinos. I really strongly encourage all of you to sample some of the more unusual or less common types of rice as they are not only delicious but you will be supporting farmers that have put their heart and soul into raising varieties that are truly extraordinary.