I fell for this rice snack in Dumaguete City in the Philippines when I lived there in 1998. It came from my favorite stall in the market. It cost 2 pesos (a few pennies) and the style I liked wasn’t always available.
When I got back to the states, I scoured cookbooks and the fledgling internet looking for a recipe. It’s feasible to make it here (unlike some of the snacks that require boiling in fresh coconut leaves for six hours) — but it’s a pain. Before this summer, my last batch was sometime in 2003.
I don’t know why I thought of reviving the recipe during the hottest summer on record, as it requires stirring over a hot stove for more than an hour. And I’m also remembering that the recipe I found was maddeningly imprecise. No pan size. No time estimates. Ingredients listed in a random order. And what exactly is “diluted coconut milk” vs. “rich coconut milk”?
Twelve years later, the top hit in Google is the exact recipe that I started from, but with more detail that’s revealing if not exactly helpful. Diluted and rich coconut milk apparently come from actual coconuts, which I do not have, rather than cans, which I do have. The picture there also doesn’t look like the style I’m aiming for.
So the recipe below is more of a guide to further experimenting than an actual recipe. Here’s what’s right:
- The flavor. Yum!
- The look. There’s a huge variety of types of biko, and this is the one I want.
But the texture — the texture still isn’t perfect. I’m going for something more chewy and dense. And this comes out a little too soft and moist. I’ll note some of the things I’m experimenting with in-line below.
Your comments and experimental results are appreciated!
Biko recipe — still a work in progress
- 2 cups malagkit (sticky rice)
- 3 1/2 c. diluted coconut milk (This is about 1.5 cans, and I’ve tried diluting it with water.)
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1/8 lb. butter
- 1 egg, beaten
For the topping:
- 1 can (15 oz.) condensed milk
- 3/4 cups rich coconut milk (about half a can)
- 2 to 3 tbsp. flour for quick thickening
Boil rice and coconut milk in a heavy pot, stirring constantly to keep from burning. (The mixture gets very thick and hard to stir, and they’re not kidding about it burning if you don’t stir. This step takes me about 45 minutes, and I usually have to add more water, up to a cup, to keep it from burning. Based on the recipe I linked to above, I’m going to try adding less water next time.)
When the rice is done and almost dry, lower the heat and add the sugar and butter. Mix well and set aside. (I wait until the rice is slightly translucent, no dryness in the middle, and remove from heat instead of lowering.)
When cool, add the egg. (Most annoying step…it takes more than an hour!)
Spread the rice mixture in a well buttered Pyrex dish and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 20 minutes. (I use a 9×13 pan)
Topping: Combine all topping ingredients in a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick. (This takes me about 20 minutes, the other recipe says 15. Again, they’re not kidding about the burning!)
Pour topping over rice mixture in dish. Increase oven heat to 350 degrees. Bake until top is brown. (This takes me about 50 minutes. I’ve increased that by up to an additional 45 minutes looking for more chewiness, but it doesn’t seem to help.)