Lasang Pinoy is a Filipino food blogging event that aims to feature Filipino dishes in its full glory. It’s the first of its kind in the Filipino Food Blogging Community and so I feel extremely honored to participate in this joyous episode in history (how very dramatic of me… Hehe…).
Stef was actually the one who first introduced me to Lasang Pinoy when she invited me to take part in the said event. I was hesitant at first, partly because I’m a novice cook who has never had any experience joining a food blogging event at the time she asked me to join, and partly because the 1st Lasang Pinoy focuses on the days leading up to EDSA-1, which I didn’t really have any recollection of as I was still very young during that period. However, because the primary goal of Lasang Pinoy is to showcase Filipino foods and culture, the organizers allowed entries to consist of the entrant’s favorite Filipino dish.
Regardless, I still really wanted to stay in line with the theme, so as described in my e-mail below, I decided to focus my entry on foods that rally-ists commonly consume to tide them over the long haul.
In spite of my desire however, my plan of making a coffee and/or pandesal/bread/biscuits entry was eventually shelved due to extraneous circumstances, and I was left to ponder another entry.
Fortunately, last weekend, my Mom was craving for some Biko, and because I thought it would make a perfect entry for Lasang Pinoy, I offered to make some if she would teach me how to do it.
I know you’re probably asking, ‘What makes you think it's a good entry?’ I took the liberty of answering that very question below.
1. Biko is a kind of kakanin that is made out of ingredients that are the primary agricultural produces of the Philippines (i.e. coconut, sugar, and rice)
2. Filipinos have a ‘merienda time’ habit, and Biko is amongst the more common traditional Filipino meriendas, not to mention this is also commonly served at Filipino gatherings and Fiestas.
3. Biko is a foodstuff that is peddled and also sold near wet markets (peddling food is a common practice in the Philippines)
4. Since Biko is a kakanin, it is not too farfetched to assume, as biko is both a common merienda and peddled food, that rallyists probably consumed this food at some time too.
5. The texture of biko, being sticky and tough to mix, is also symbolic of how the Filipino people rallied together and stayed resilient in the face of danger and adversary, to fight for freedom and what they believed in. The color of of Biko symbolizes the Filipinos as a race (beautifully brown in color), and the sweet taste of the dish also reflects the endearing traits of Filipinos (e.g. kindness, hospitality, thoughtfulness).
What I like best about cooking Biko is that it has very few ingredients, not to mention those ingredients can easily be found in the market and is available all year round.
However, while the ingredients are few and in between, making this dish actually takes a lot of time and effort as you have to mix the very sticky rice thoroughly which is tough and in effect, quite tiring. Nevertheless, this should not deter you from preparing this delectable dish.
Being a Bulaceña, my Mom is versed in a lot of merienda/dessert/kakanin dishes. This is one of my Mom’s specialties, and the procedure of making the latik balls that serve as both a garnish and adding extra flavor and bite to this dish, is a knowledge that is rare among those who cook this in their homes.
Biko na may Latik (Rice Cake with Latik Balls)
Niyog (shredded or grated coconut)
Malagkit na Bigas (sticky or glutinous rice)
Extract coconut milk from the niyog. This can be done by soaking the niyog in some warm water then squeezing it to juice out the milk. Some people prefer simmering the grated coconut in water before straining and squeezing it through a katya (cheesecloth), but we prefer to just pour warm water over the niyog and juice it before straining the extracted coconut milk.
Then in a saucepan, pour the coconut milk and let it boil until oil and some solids form (the coconut residue that forms when boiling coconut milk is called latik). Set aside some of the oil and solids to make the latik balls. Add brown sugar into the remaining boiled coconut milk before pouring the cooked glutinous rice in the saucepan. Mix until ingredients are completely incorporated. Turn off the heat and let cool for a few minutes, then spread on to a bilao/container that has been lined with plastic wrap.
To make the latik balls: In a frying pan, heat the oil and solids obtained from the boiled coconut milk that was set aside earlier over low heat. Once the latik browns, takes shape and forms into little balls, add some brown sugar and mix so the latik balls won’t stick together. Scoop out and spread on top of the Biko.
The oil and solids (coconut residue) that forms when boiling coconut milk is called 'latik', so the biko itself has latik apart from the latik balls used for garnish.
I think I spread the latik balls a little too sporadically than should be... Sorry about that... Evidently, I'm still not much of a cook. ;-) Here's to hoping I get better! :)