A big winter storm is heading down this weekend and it's bringing some pretty chilly temperatures along with it. You know what that means? Yup. I'm gonna need some serious comfort food to warm my belly. My all-time favorite comfort food has got to be my grandma's ginataang bilo-bilo (also known as sampelot in the province of Pampanga, where I grew up). It's a sweet and hearty stew made with coconut milk, tropical fruits, tubers, tapioca pearls and glutinous rice balls. This luscious dessert really sticks to your ribs, which makes it so perfect for the cold weather. Mmmmmmm...
My grandma taught me how to make ginataang bilo-bilo when I was a little girl, but my memories of learning how to make it weren't exactly fun and happy. It was more like detention because instead of playing and watching cartoons with my brothers and sister, I was stuck in the kitchen helping out.
My grandma would always assign me to the most incredibly tedious task of rolling the bill-bilo. They're little balls of dough made with glutinous rice flour and water, very similar to Japanese mochi. They're so delicious but mind-numbingly boring to make. I'd reluctantly sit at the kitchen table and stare at the bowl of dough in front of me. I'd pinch off a small amount, roll it in between my hands to form a ball and place it neatly on a plate. It was so time-consuming rolling those little suckers one by one. By the time I finished rolling them, my palms were covered with this thick layer of rice flour paste.
One day, I tried to speed things up a little. While my grandma was busy preparing the other ingredients, I made the bilo-bilo bigger than they were supposed to. But my grandma caught me right away. She looked at the plate, plucked off all the "rejects" and put them back in the bowl. "Do them again," she said. I just sentenced myself to more work and rolled some more bill-bilo. I definitely learned my lesson then. Never ever mess with grandma. Never.
I might not have appreciated it back then, but I'm so lucky that she took the time to teach me how to make ginataang bilo-bilo. It's definitely one of those family recipes I'll hold near and dear to my heart and I hope it would get passed on from generation to generation :-)
Makes 12 - 16 servings
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. Mochiko sweet rice flour
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups water
4-15 oz. cans coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 ripe burro bananas (saba), peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups sweet potato (kamote) or yam, peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups purple yam (ube), peeled and cut into cubes
2 cups jackfruit (langka), cut into strips (reserve the syrup)
1/2 cup tapioca pearls (sago), soaked in water for 30 minutes
To make the dough balls:
In a small mixing bowl, combine sweet rice flour with the 2/3 cup water. Mix together to form a dough. Roll the dough in to marble-sized balls. Place the dough balls in a plate and cover with a damp tea towel or paper towel. Pour 6 cups of water and 1/2 cup sugar in to a saucepan. Bring to a simmer to dissolve the sugar. Then, carefully drop in the dough balls. When they float to the top, scoop them out and place in a bowl.
To make the stew:
In a large pot, combine coconut milk, water, reserved syrup from the jackfruit and 1/2 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Add the sweet potatoes and purple yam. Cook till tender. Add the burro bananas and tapioca pearls.Cook till the bananas are tender and the tapioca pearls are translucent. Add the jackfruit and rice balls last. Cook till the jackfruit is soft.
Note: To keep the purple yams from getting overcooked and turning the coconut milk purple, you can cook them in the sugar water right after you cook the dough balls.
Please note: I am not a paid endorser nor did I accept any freebies of the brands or products mentioned in this post. I just love them and wanted to share it with you :-)