Everything you need to know about the Philippines’ ube-flavored sticky rice dessert

Everything you need to know about the Philippines’ ube-flavored sticky rice dessert
via Kusina TV
Bryan Ke
May 17, 2023
Did you know the Philippines also has a sticky rice dessert, just like Thailand? It also comes in different variations depending on where in the country you buy it from.
While Thailand has its mango sticky rice, the Philippines also has its own version of the sweet rice dessert called biko (pronounced as bee-koh), which is made from glutinous rice and coconut milk.
Biko
via Judgefloro (CC0 1.0)
Commonly consumed as a mid-afternoon snack (merienda) or even served as a dessert like the halo-halo, biko – the original version with coffee-like color – is very popular across the Philippines.
Biko also has a wide variety of flavors. Some varieties are “biko na pirurutong,” which is made out of sweet black rice (pirurutong) instead, and pandan biko, which is infused with pandan essence to give it a grassy vanilla taste and sweet aroma.
There is also the famous ube biko, which is made from ube or purple yam.
Ube Biko
via glyza’s Haven
Although the cooking process of ube biko can be straightforward, especially when preparing the rice and mixture, making the latik (coconut curds) can prove laborious for some as it requires tons of patience.
Cooking glutinous rice can be as easy as how you would cook regular rice, which can also be done in a rice cooker. To prepare the snack, coconut cream sugar, ube halaya and ube flavoring must be stirred in a heated pot until it starts to dissolve. It will form into a sticky rice once the mixture is mixed with the cooked glutinous rice.
As for the latik, the process could take up to 40 minutes of stirring as the liquid of the coconut cream needs to be fully evaporated in a heated pot until it appears brown and solid. This is normally a sign that it is ready to be served on top of the ube biko cut in small square slices. Additionally, some Filipinos like to add slices of mangoes or jackfruit to compliment the ube biko.
Biko’s origin remains a mystery even to this day. 
The same can also be said of kakanin — an umbrella term used to describe sweet treats made of glutinous rice and coconut milk — such as suman (soo-man) and kutsinta (koot-sin-ta or koot-chin-ta).
Ancient Filipinos would often use kakanin as part of their offerings to the pre-colonial gods or even as gifts when honoring visitors. Others claim that biko originated in China due to how similar the dessert is to machang, also called zongzi, a traditional Chinese dish made from glutinous rice and different kinds of filling.
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