Biko is a mainstay at weddings, town fiestas, or funerals. It comes to mind when you hear the word “kakanin” (made from rice). However, not everyone knows how to make Biko, so they would have it bought from a store any day.
Furthermore, Biko is among the Filipino delicacies that are made out of rice and coconut, which are both abundant in the country. This sweet Merienda (afternoon snack) is a total hit in the Philippines. In fiestas, this sweetened rice won’t be absent on the table, even some people who have settled down abroad would come back to the Philippines on occasions with Biko in their minds.
Traditionally, this kakanin is served over banana leaves in a bilao (round woven bamboo tray), but some would place it in a nice shallow large glass or plastic dish. It is then garnished with latik (cooked coconut milk curd) on top.
Without further adieu, let’s take a glance at the different things you need to know to make this Merienda sweetheart. You might as well want to replace chocolate with this sweetness whenever you’re in a sugar rush.
Biko A Occasional Filipino dessert
Biko is a Filipino rice cake made from sticky rice (which is known locally as malagkit), brown sugar, and coconut milk. It is sticky, gooey, and with a distinct nutty flavor from the sweet coconut curd. And it is often eaten as a merienda (afternoon snack) or dessert. However, on some occasions like weddings, birthdays, Christmas or New year Biko dessert is a standard fixture on the table.
Biko is also famous among foreigners as they would often try this sticky rice cake in some family gatherings made by our kababayan (countryman) who are living abroad. It is a natural choice for Filipino to add to their list of handa (food choices) on any given occasion.
It generally appears all around the Philippines, and no one seems to be asking about its origin. Some say it’s probably from China, where the glutinous rice is believed to have been first cultivated as a domestic crop.
In addition to this, it is known as Sinukmani or Sinukmaneng in the Southern Luzon area. While, in the Muslim regions in the Philippines, it is called wadjit in Tausug; in Maranao, it is called wadit, and in Maguindanao, they call it wagit.
Aside from the main ingredients of coconut and rice, what is Biko made of that makes it a favorite-comfort-food is the feeling of warmth and homeness it brings.
What Kind of Rice Do We Use to make Biko
The choice of grains dramatically affects the result of this delicacy. Biko rice should be that of glutinous rice or the (short grain). It is opaque in color or less translucent compared to the long grain rice you usually buy and cook for lunch or dinner.
It is less translucent because it has a high amount of starch. It is the starchy content of this grain that makes it perfect for some Merienda or dessert type of food such as Champorado (Filipino chocolate rice porridge).
Glutinous rice, contrary to its name, has no gluten content. So people who are in any restricted or modified diet can use this type of grain.
Variations of Biko
There are many variations of Biko as any other dishes and desserts, but you don’t have to raid a store or a restaurant just to have it on your table. You can make your own by just following these easy steps we shared with you, and if you have mastered the art of making it, maybe then you can even make your version of it.
Below are some of the variations we choose, which you can try as a beginner’s guide.
Biko with Latik
Latik (brown coconut curd), in this variation, the coconut syrup is made by combining the coconut milk and brown sugar, it is cooked in medium heat till it forms a curd. In addition to this, there are two kinds of latik; at least their meanings vary in different regions.
In Luzon (northern part), it pertains to the coconut milk cook slowly until it becomes brown curd and uses as a topping to some Filipino desserts. While in Visayas regions, “latik” is referred to as coconut syrup, and it is eaten as desserts or as a topping as well.
In this version, cook latik and then simply add it on top of your Biko. It will add a nutty flavor and extra sweetness to your already sweet sticky rice cake. It will also make your Biko appealing to the eyes.
Ube is originally from the Philippines. It is a bright purple sweet potato with a sweeter and delicate taste than the rest of its kind with a nutty, vanilla flavor.
Since purple yam (Ube) are abundant in the Philippines, it can easily be found anywhere. To make your Biko even more pleasing to the eyes, you can use Ube to add color. What’s more, Ube is a good source of carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin C.
How to make Latik as topping for Biko
As we have mentioned earlier, latik (sweet coconut sauce) is an essential ingredient used by Filipino to garnish their desserts like rice cakes, Maja Blanca (local version of gelatin with corn), Sapin Sapin, and Suman (wrapped sticky rice). But how to make the latik topping for Biko? It is merely by bringing the coconut milk into a simmer until it reduced, and the oil is separated and makes a fragrant curd.
However, in the Visayas, it is made by simmering coconut milk and sugar together until it becomes curd.
Since this might be your first try to cook this bite, you might encounter some mishaps. Don’t worry; we listed down a few remedies to counter them.
- Soggy Rice – uncover the lid of the cooker and cook in low heat for a few minutes until the excess liquid dries out, or you can put the rice into the baking sheet and put it in the moderate oven.
- Hard Rice – splash some water with the rice in the microwave-safe dish. Break the clump of rice using a fork, then cover the bowl or plate with a wet paper towel. Put the towel directly on top of the rice.
Want to know some extra juicy info about this tempting snack? Here are some trivia about Biko, the highly appraised delicious goodies in the Philippines.
- Did you know that Biko is prepared mainly during Undas (All Saints’ Day)?
The stickiness of this dessert signifies a tight-knit family culture of the Filipinos. It explains that even though a family member or a relative passes away, they are still close to the heart of the living.
- Rice cakes are usually made from brown rice, which is beneficial to health because whole grains contain fiber, phytochemicals, and carbohydrates. Besides, they make for excellent snacks because they are low in calories and are fat-free, although they are not good sources of other nutrients.
Here in Eat Like Pinoy, we love to share useful tips with the readers so that they can make their dish more appetizing and their kitchen experience more fun and enjoyable.
So, below are the effective ways to make your Biko a mouthwatering treat for everyone.
- Rice – adding enough water to the rice should cook the rice adequately soft, not soggy or not too hard.
- Rice – it is better to cook the rice directly using the coconut milk. It will give a different level of flavor, taste, and creaminess.
- Pandan leaves – usually calamansi leaves are used to give this dessert a fragrant smell, but if you don’t have it, pandan leaves or lime will make a great alternative.
- Zest – if you want to add an extra tangy flavor to your Biko, you can achieve this by adding lemon, orange, or calamansi zest to the mix during the last part. It will make an exciting twist to it and heavenly smell.
- Aroma – If you have fresh banana leaves, cover your Biko with it and let it sit for a few minutes. It will give an aroma and will make your Biko inviting to the nose.
Best Served With
- Tea or Hot Cocoa – because every sweet merienda is heaven when combined with these rich in antioxidant elixir. Yes, you are like drinking antioxidants, especially the hot cocoa bit.
- Lumpiang Shanghai – who would not love a contrasting flavor, eh? We are totally up for this because these pair-ups are best against umay (fed up)
- Halo-halo – sweet for sweet. If you have a sweet tooth, your taste buds can definitely enjoy this combination.
- Spaghetti – Just like what your kapitbahay (neighbor) would typically send you on a plate to share their handa (foods on occasion) with you, yes this combo never gets old.
- Pancit Guisado – The greatness and salty, meaty tang of pancit guisado is a perfect mix with biko. Again, the contrasting flavors are hard to resist and would typically increase your appetite with a particular food.
Some Filipino families have their Biko recipe that they keep on their own. It might be an heirloom passed from generation to generation. As a result, you might find them adding up some ingredients that you may want to forgo, but that’s alright.
With all the information that we put here, we aim to help you find your unique version of it, so just keep on trying until you find your distinct variant of it. So there is all you need to know about how to make Biko the best-tasting Biko there is.
This recipe is simplified so that you can easily follow the procedures. We hope we have given you ideas on how to turn this dessert the star of any occasion. Feel free to provide us with feedback on how it turned out with you. Enjoy cooking!
For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!
Best Biko Recipe
- 1 lb Glutinous rice
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 3 cups Coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cup Muscovado sugar
- 2 cups Water
- 1 pc Pandan leaves
- 1 pc Banana leaf large
- Wash the glutinous rice and put in a casserole with 2 cups of water.
- Cook the rice on the stove. When all the water evaporates, lower the heat and cook for another 15 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, cook 1 cup of coconut milk and stir well until it turns brown. This will produce oil and toasted coconut milk curd.
- In another pan, pour 2 cups of coconut milk with sugar, salt and pandan leaves then cook until it boils or until the sugar is caramelized.
- When the coconut milk boils, add the glutinous rice then cook for 1 hour over low medium heat. Note: Continue cooking until the rice gets sticky.
- While waiting for the rice, prepare the banana leaf and rub it with coconut oil.
- Then once cooked, put the biko on the leaf and top with toasted coconut milk curd or latik.
- Serve, share ad enjoy!