Breaking News

[Recipe] Guinataang Bilo-bilo or guinataang halo-halo (reduced sugar)

Guinataang bilo-bilo or sometimes called guinataang halo-halo (also binignit in Cebuano) is one of those desserts that conjure memories of cold and rainy days of my childhood. It is an ideal comfort food for those times when you want to just stay at home when there is a typhoon raging outside. I specifically remember helping out by making small balls of glutinous rice flour dough using the palms of my hands and dropping them one by one in the simmering pot of coconut milk-based liquid until the small balls float up to the surface signifying that they are done. There is also this strange belief (I guess you can call it a superstition?) amongst the older folks that there are some people who should not cook this dish since they will end up with a watery porridge. These people should not even touch the ladle used for cooking as the simple act of touching the cooking implements will ruin the dish. For reference, this sweet dessert porridge is typically thick and creamy (if it does become watery, just add in more glutinous rice flour to thicken the consistency).

Guinataang bilo-bilo na may minatamis na saba, kamote, at sago

I also remember we called the dish simply as guinataan. Not that Ilonggos don't often use gata or coconut milk in savory and sweet dishes. I can think of a few notable dishes that uses coconut milk like adobadong alimusan (which is basically saltwater catfish adobo sa gata),  guinataan nga bagungon (telescope snail cooked in coconut milk), kasag kag tambo sa gata (blue shelled crabs and bamboo shoots in coconut milk), and a few others. But when I hear my mother say she will be cooking guinataan then it will always refer to guinataang bilo-bilo for me.

Bilo-bilo is actually the name of the chewy balls made from glutinous rice flour. It might also seem strange that this hot dish is also known as guinataang "halo-halo" since halo-halo is a shaved ice dessert/merienda dish. On closer inspection of the ingredients, they do have some elements in common such as the candied bananas, candied sweet potato, and colorful tapioca sago. So while the halo-halo is a cold treat best served during the hot summer months, guinataang bilo-bilo is the opposite in that it warms you up during those wet or cold months of the year. Halo-halo also just means "to mix" or "a mixture of ingredients" so the name literally translates to "a mixture of ingredients cooked in coconut milk."

In this particular recipe, I have made use of the candied sweet potato and bananas mentioned in the previously posted recipes.

3 Cups of Gata or Coconut milk/cream
2 Cups Malagkit na bigas or Glutinous rice flour
1/2 Cup of Sago or tapioca balls (smaller ones don't need to be cooked separately and can be placed in the recipe as is, bigger ones need to be cooked first)
1 Cup Minatamis na saba or candied saba bananas
1 Cup Minatamis na kamote or candied sweet potato
1/2 Cup Minatamis na langka or candied jackfruit (optional)
Sweetener equivalent to half cup of white sugar (if you prefer to reduce the sugar content of the dessert - I personally used monkfruit sweetener in this recipe).

If you have prepared all of the ingredients beforehand as I have done, the actual recipe is quite straightforward. The first thing to do is to add enough water to the glutinous rice flour (do this a little at a time) until you form a slightly tacky but manageable dough. Make sure that the rice flour is well mixed (hydrated). Taking about a teaspoonful of dough at a time, roll the dough between your two hands until you form small spheres about half an inch in diameter. It is a good idea to keep the sizes consistent as they should cook about the same time.

In a large pot, cook the tapioca balls in the coconut milk. The tapioca balls are cooked when the entire sphere becomes translucent (or you can taste one and if it is still hard in the middle then it is not yet cooked). Make sure to stir the pot constantly to prevent the tapioca balls from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to each other.

Once the tapioca balls are cooked, drop in the glutinous rice balls one by one. Add water if the glutinous balls and the tapioca balls become a bit crowded in the pot. The glutinous rice balls will rise to the surface. Check for doneness. The balls should be sticky and chewy all the way through. You can control the desired consistency of this dish by either adding water or more glutinous rice flour directly to the pot (a little at a time). 

Add in the candied ingredients. Add in the sugar (you can adjust how much depending on the desired sweetness just bear in mind that you should adjust the sweetness only once you have already added the candied ingredients as those are already sweet to begin with).

Serve piping hot and enjoy.  


Anonymous said...

I prefer to eat guinataan cold.

JEP said...

I like eating it cold too, but the glutinous rice balls have a tendency to become harder. Freshly cooked they are nice and chewy.