BIKO OR SWEET RICE PUDDING
Fuel for Holiday Angels
By Lu Sobredo
I associate Christmas with a house filled with the aroma from the kitchen. This morning, the mixture of caramel on the stove with a hint of ginger and vanilla infused in coconut milk woke up images from my youth.
Usually a few days of preparation when my folks were still with us is now down to a couple of days, with only my darling hubby, our dear son and me at home; and with the Rheumatoid Arthritis trying to rule the day. I’ve reduced the tradition to a few items. Number one on the list that I make in advance of Christmas Eve when my wrists and fingers would cooperate is Biko Aklanon-Visayan style).
I often get asked for the recipe. I share the ingredients and steps below for anyone to use as the basic essentials. I get everything done while on my laptop waiting for the sweet rice to cook in the rice cooker, then becoming fully engaged over the stove when stirring the caramel sauce.
2 heaping cups of raw sweet rice with an equal amount of water in the rice cooker
A pinch of salt for the rice while cooking
1 ½ cups of dark brown sugar and ¼ water to make the caramel
2 large slices of fresh ginger (optional)
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 can of coconut milk (13.5 ounces)
The amount easily serves 8-10 people for dessert or snack.
Cook the sweet rice in a rice cooker for convenience. Add salt. It takes about 10-15 minutes. Let it cool and set aside.
Make caramel in a deep medium-sized pot. Melt two cups of sugar into caramel. Add ¼ cup of water to get the caramel started and to prevent the sauce from burning. Add the ginger and stir the fluid frequently for about 5-10 minutes on a medium high heat at first, then reduce to medium heat. Bring to a boil and keep on the stove until the sauce is thick and dripping like syrup when lifting the wooden spoon. This should take 5-10 minutes.
Remove the ginger cubes from the liquid mixture. My hubby doesn’t like biting into the ginger if he happens to end up with it in his serving. So, I’ve learned to take them out.
Add the coconut milk to the caramel mixture and let steam for 5-10 minutes until you smell the mixed aromas that would likely be dominated by the wonderful smell of coconut milk. Add vanilla right before or after the next step.
The most important step is scooping loosened rice from the rice cooker. Mix and fold the sticky goodness into the caramel sauce until fully integrated into the shiny dark brown rice pudding it was meant to be.
I serve mine in individual containers to taste before Christmas. A large serving bowl houses the rest to be served on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day if any remains in the bowl.
Photo ©Lu Sobredo
Christmas Cooking Tradition 2021