Kulinarya’s theme for the month of October 2010 is SUMAN (Steamed Sticky Rice Wrapped In Banana Leaf).
Suman (Steamed Sweet Sticky Rice Rolls) are totally different from the sticky rice kakanin (native dessert/snack) that are baked or steamed in pans lined up with banana leaves and have a sweet glaze topping. You can tell Suman from it’s casing of banana leaves or young coconut leaves. They can be in cylindrical, square or triangular forms. Different regions in the Philippines offers their own take on Suman. Some even use grated cassava and millet seeds to make their Suman.
I grew up with the plain Suman version, sticky rice with coconut milk and sugar. My Auntie from Bataan use to make hundreds of this every time we visit her family, for us to take back to Manila. The procedure that I based on making this month’s Kulinarya theme, is based on what I can remember on how she does it. I would never forget what she told me about the kind of banana leaves she use. She said the best banana leaves to wrap your Suman would be from the banana tree variety that has visible black seeds inside its fruits. Its leaves are more flexible and hardly breaks at all. Her other technique was to partly wilt the whole leaves out in the sun for an hour or so. She would use the fleshy thick part of the banana leaves as a buffer on the bottom of her large cooking pot before stacking the tied up paired Suman.
In regards to the Suman tying method, it took me awhile to figure it out and I hope am about 75% right. I’ve also used a rice cooker to cook my sticky rice and boy, it’s easier than cooking over the stovetop. So here’s my take on making Suman for the first time and am glad I finally did it, as my frozen banana leaves has been in the freezer for months waiting to be used…
SUMAN (Steamed Sticky Rice Rolls)
4 cups glutinous (sticky) rice
1 large can of coconut cream (560ml)
1/4 cup white sugar
a good pinch of salt
1 big packet of frozen banana leaves
*used U.S Measuring Cups & Spoons
STICKY RICE COOKING PROCEDURE:
~ Place the sticky rice on a large bowl and immerse it in water, soak overnight.
Top Left & Right: With a clean rice cooker bowl, combine drained sticky rice, coconut cream and salt. Insert the rice cooker bowl inside the rice cooker base and press the “cook” button. Leave the lid open and once you see small bubbles forming, stir the bottom to prevent the sticky rice from sticking. Keep stirring till there’s no more visible liquid.
Bottom Left & Right: Add in the sugar and stir the sticky rice mixture till the two are well combine. The mixture should be like a wet steamed rice (half cooked) appearance, with a bit of coconut cream coating the sticky rice. Turn off the rice cooker and take out the rice cooker bowl and set aside to cool.
Top Left & Right: Prepare your banana leaves: If you’re using fresh leaves once you cut it from the tree, let the leaves wilt a little bit under the sun and if you’re using frozen ones, defrost it first. Using a clean wet kitchen towel/paper towel, wipe the leaves. Sanitize the leaves over an open flame or stovetop or do what I did with my frozen banana leaves, I cut them into 18cm width (“isang dangkal”~outstretched thumb and forefinger distance). I dipped them into a big bowl of hot water and wipe them dry.
Bottom Left & Right: I’ve measured my half cooked sticky rice mixture with a 1/4 measuring cup. Lay your sticky rice mixture the same direction as the lines on your piece of banana leaf. You should have approximately 5cm leaf end facing you, roll this over the top of the sticky rice mixture and press it firmly to make the mixture elongated and solid.
Top Left & Right: Roll it firmly but not too tight. Fold the end flaps, they should be around 5cm each.
Bottom Left & Right: Make sure the rolled end edge of the banana leaf is in the middle of the folded side flaps. Place your rolled suman “flaps down” while you finish the rest of the suman wrapping.
TYING A PAIR OF SUMAN TOGETHER:
~ I’ve used straw string, cut 1 metre long and I got 3 strips from 1 cut straw string (depends on the thickness of your straw string).
Top Left & Right: Place two suman together, with their underneath flaps face to face. While holding the paired suman together with your left hand, pinch the end of the string with your forefinger and middle finger. With your right hand place the string between the paired suman and make a 1 1/2 circle (clockwise) with your string around the end of the paired suman and place the string over again between the paired suman.
Bottom Left & Right: Pull the string between the paired suman and make another 1 1/2 circle (clockwise) on the other end of the paired suman and place the string over again between the paired suman. The clearance between the ends of the suman and string circles should be around 2 1/2cm.
Top Left & Right: Pull the string toward the other side end and insert under the circled string. The other end of the string should be here (remember the one you pinched with your forefinger and middle finger).
Bottom Left & Right: Make a half bow and trim the excess string ends. Don’t tie the strings too tightly, as the sticky rice mixture will expand once fully cooked.
~ Arrange the tied up suman in a steamer pan.
~ Steam for 40 minutes. Remove the steamer from the stovetop and set it aside, do not remove the lid, this will further cook your suman (just leave it alone for 1/2 hour).
~ And there you have it, 24 pcs. of freshly cooked suman!
BEST WITH: Sugar, Coconut Caramel Sauce and Slices of Ripe Mangoes.
- The reason why you have to place the sticky rice mixture along the lines of the banana leaves is that when you peel your cooked suman, it would be easier..it’s like peeling a banana. What you do is, straighten one of the flaps and tear it in the middle and the banana wrap will separate into two and you just keep on sliding it down while holding the other end with your other hand till you have eaten all the suman inside.
- You can freeze your suman and reheat them by steaming or by microwave.