My best memory of this delicious suman is made by a distant relative who made me love this native delicacy. I don’t remember when was the last time I tasted her Suman sa Lihia which we call “Suman Latik” in Ilocos but I remember how pleased I was every time I can get a taste of it.
I seldom make wrapped rice cake recipes because of how tedious the process is. Not long ago, I mustered some strength to try it and it was a success. I always fear the use of lye water because too little and it’ll not do the trick and too much, it’ll have a bitter, chemical taste that will just ruin the entire batch. But I knew I had to start somewhere so I added which I thought was just enough and it worked.
Suman sa Lihia (Rice Cake with Sweet Coconut Sauce)
- 4 cups glutinous rice
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Lihia food-grade Lye water
- 200 g Panutsa sugar cane block
- 1 400g can coconut milk Aroy-D
- pinch of salt
- Banana leaves for wrapping
- Kitchen Twine for tying
- Rinse the glutinous rice 2 times in water and place in a large bowl. Cover with water about an inch past the rice line. Soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- While rice is soaking, wash the banana leaves in hot tap water, drain and wipe each leaf with a clean cloth. Cut the leaves in 2 sizes, one bigger than the other (6×8’ for the bigger one and abt 4×6” for the other) It doesn’t have to be exact as long as it can hold about 1 / 2 cup of the mixture.
- Drain the rice in a fine sieve. If your colander has larger holes, line it first with a cheesecloth or a couple of paper towels before placing the rice. Drain for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to a big bowl and add the lye water. Mix very well making sure it is distributed evenly to avoid bitter spots in your suman.The rice will turn yellow.
- Place 2 leaves on top of each other,(the smaller one on top) and put 1 / 2 cup of the rice mixture in the middle of the leaves and fold in thirds then fold both ends to seal the rice. Repeat until everything’s wrapped.
- Tie using the twine in pairs (open side facing each other) and place in a big pot. When all done, pour water into the pot until all the suman is covered with at least an inch of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to med-low and cook for 2 hours. Check every 30 minutes to make sure the pieces are submerged in water all the time. Add more water if needed.
- Meanwhile, place the panutsa, coconut milk and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce until thick .
- After cooking the suman, remove from the water and place on a colander to drain excess liquid. Serve with the sweet coconut sauce