Despite the distance between Manila, where my parents-in-law lived and their hometown Quezon Province, they made it a point to bring home some rice at every harvest. My mother-in-law taught me how to cook the family’s favorite rice cake. Sinukmani (see NOOK mah knee) always tasted better using the family’s malagkit than any commercially bought ones.
In Malolos and Pasig, sinukmani is called biko (BEE koh). My husband’s grandmother, cooked biko on Good Fridays. He and his cousins couldn’t wait for her to pour the cooked biko into a banana-leaf lined bilao (flat round basket tray) so they could scrape the burnt rice that stuck to the bottom of the pan. Sweet and crispy, the tutong, was the cousins’ favorite part of the biko. They would then slice the cake using a knife wrapped with an oiled strip of banana leaf, a technique that my husband used whenever we made rice cakes at home.
But what is sinukmani/biko, you might ask. It is a rice cake made of glutinous rice cooked in sweetened coconut cream/milk and topped with coconut curds or latik (lah TICK). It is often mistaken for a similar rice cake called bibingkang malagkit which has a softer consistency and is topped with caramelized coconut-cream topping. Sinukmani/biko is easier to make and is generally not as sweet as bibingkang malagkit.
Biko / Sinukmani | Sweet-Rice Cake
- Banana leaf rinsed and softened
- 2 cups malagkit (sweet glutinourice rinsed and drained
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups gatâ coconut cream
- 2 cups dark brown sugar muscovado, or shaved palm sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- Grated coconut
- Latik coconut curds
- Grease banana leaf with coconut oil or butter. Line an 8-inch square pan with the oiled banana leaf.
- Place rice and water in a rice cooker. Cook until rice is done al dente.
- Boil coconut milk, sugar, and salt in a wok over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer for about 15 minutes, until sugar is completely dissolved. Add cooked rice; stir constantly for 5 to 10 minutes, or until most of the coconut milk has been absorbed. Biko is cooked when mixture oils up and the rice no longer sticks to the sides of the wok.
- Pour hot into prepared pan; flatten with an oiled spatula. Cut into 2-inch squares with an oiled knife or spatula. Top each square with grated coconut and/or coconut curds.
- Serve hot or cold. Refrigerate leftover biko covered, in the baking dish, and consume within 5 days. Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap and freeze up to 6 months; thaw overnight in fridge before serving; serve at room temperature or warm by steaming for about 10 minutes.