Today, I have a recipe for a dessert from the Philippines that I am sure many of you are unfamiliar with. I did a bit of research on this, since I love long Wikipedia-clicking sessions. :) There are 3.4 million Filipino-Americans, which makes them just over 1% of the population, mostly concentrated in California and Hawaii. Oh, then it makes sense that you would not have eaten in a Filipino restaurant or shopped at a Filipino supermarket like I have, right?
Shockingly, there are more persons of Filipino heritage in the U.S. than those of Japanese, Indian, Korean, and Vietnamese backgrounds. In fact, the only Asian group that is more represented in the U.S. are those of Chinese heritage. Then why do people not know more about Filipino food? Well, for one thing there are very few Filipino restaurants. Also, it is difficult to find recipes, partially because Filipinos rarely cook using recipes and exact measurements, which Lindsay from Pinch of Yum noted. That means, whenever I ask someone, "Well, how do you make this dish or this dish?," I never get a straight answer!
Therefore, I made it my mission one day to hover over the shoulder of the "chef" whose dish I wanted to copy, in order to time and measure everything before it was added (with her permission, of course). I finally had a recipe that I could start with, and after a bit of tweaking, I finally have a recipe to share with you all!
Now about the dish itself! After all of that talk about traditional Filipino food not being represented well in the U.S., I admit that this is a non-traditional version of Ginataang Bilo-Bilo. The word ginataan refers to a multitude of dishes, all of which are cooked in coconut milk. The word bilo-bilo refers to the sago or tapioca pearls, although some people make glutinous rice balls instead, called palitaw.
Basically, here are the ways that my version of the dish differ from traditional Ginataang Bilo-Bilo:
- I use sago (tapioca pearls) instead of palitaw. I like palitaw, but it is time intensive to make.
- Traditional versions include ube, a purple yam. It's good but I didn't have one on hand.
- My version is considerably more chunky. Traditionally, it looks like more of a soup, but I prefer a higher fruit to liquid ratio, like a stew.
- I eat it cold, like pudding, but it is traditionally eaten warm like porridge. Try it both ways to see what you prefer!
I like this dessert because it is a fruit-filled, colorful, flavorful, and relatively healthy. As much as I love cake, sometimes I need to lay off the refined carbs a bit, and this is perfect. :) Also, this is great for anyone who is gluten-free, lactose-free, and vegan, so it is pretty versatile!
Are you ready to see how to make this? Then let's get started!
(Non-traditional) Ginataang Bilo-Bilo
A Vintage Zest original recipe, adapted from an anonymous chef's family recipe :)
- 2 1/2 cans coconut milk
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 6 cups sweet potatoes (about 3 large), cut into large chunks
- 1/2 cup sago (tapioca pearls)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 12 oz. langka (jackfruit) with syrup or 1 1/2 cups fresh, sliced thinly (see below; found at most Asian markets)
- 1 1/3 cups plantains (about 3 large), sliced thickly
1. Add the coconut milk and water to a large sauce pot.
2. Add the sweet potatoes and cook on medium-high heat, while simmering. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the potatoes have softened slightly.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, starting with the tapioca pearls...
...and lastly, the plantains and jackfruit.
4. Cook until the tapioca is cooked and the ginataang has thickened, anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. FYI, this batch took 25 minutes.
And that's it! You can eat it hot, which is more traditional, or cold, which is how I prefer it! Anyways, I hope that you try it out!
Have you tried Filipino food before?