Each country has its unique delicacy that is genuinely distinct from others. These delicacies represent their culture, signifying their identity as a nation, and binds them together. In this side of the globe, more often referred to as the Far East, there are multitudes of delicacies that one can choose from.
Most of these are made of sweet rice flour, as rice flour is a staple farming crop that fuels different Southeast Asian nations’ economies. One of the most noticeable rice flour delicacies found in the Philippines is a rice cake doused in rice flour called Espasol.
I hope you are as excited as I am, and for sweet tooths out there, this one is especially for you. So allow us to teach you the things you need to learn and practice cooking the Best Espasol that you and your family are sure to love. And hey, who knows, you might be able to come up with your version of it. So let’s begin.
What is Espasol (Rice Flour)
During the Christmas season, which begins as early as September and as late as January, different kinds of rice cakes, sweet treats, and other Filipino delicacies are peddle in the streets. The smell of rice cakes cooks over hot coals signals the most awaited season of the year.
One of the most well-known delicacies that use glutinous rice flour is Espasol, a cylindrical rice cake cooked with coconut milk, and is often filled with young coconut milk then rolled in sweet rice flour.
It hails from the province of Laguna and, since then, has become a staple pasalubong gift not just for people going back from the province but also a requested treat for Filipinos working abroad. Its fame is widespread and even has regional variations, one that matches its fame is the Bulacan version.
The technique in making our dish is often passing down from one generation to the next, so only a few innovations have been made since it’s conception. This sweet delicacy is a treat not just for kids but for the young at heart as well.
Ways to Cook
Ways to Cook
The traditional way of cooking this dish involves a lot of painstaking effort; in the olden days, cooking our dish is a family event. The young and the old take turns mixing and turning the glutinous rice flour and the coconut milk mixture until they form into a sticky mixture.
But in this day and age of technological advancement, cooking this traditional rice cake treat is now easier. One only needs to be familiarized with the basics and then choose which method fits the mold in cooking our dish. We have a list here of ways to cook this treat for starters.
Traditionally, Espasol recipes are cooking in a big pan over a makeshift wood-fired stove. But nowadays, there are innovations to adapt to the fast-paced and convenience-based lifestyle of the people. One way of cooking it by steaming is like the other rice cake delicacies that we have.
One way to do this is to put the mixture in llanera or tin mold. After mixing the glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar, cook it until halfway done. Then fill about a quarter of the tin mold with the mixture.
Steaming the mixture finishes the cooking process. At first glance, the cooking process seems tedious, but eliminating the mixing part until it is fully ready saves you fatigue and joint pains.
The instant pot is a piece of very versatile cooking equipment. You can cook anything in it, may it be saucy, or fried, or steamed. But did you know that you can also cook glutinous rice flour cake in it? Yes, you heard it correctly. You can cook our recipe on it.
The same process is doing to cooking this sweet treat. The significant difference is that you don’t have to stir it continually. All you have to do is to pre-cook the mixture in a separate
pan then finish it off in the instant pot and allow it to do its thing.
The instant pot is heaven-sent for people who need to do many things all at the same time. With just a button press, you can leave it on its own and do other stuff that you need to do. The pressure inside the cooker will do the mixing and tenderizing for you.
It is the closest to the traditional method that we can get when cooking our dish. The stovetop method uses direct heat coming from the LPG-fueled burner, somehow similar to a wood-fired stove.
And since this method is closer to the original, you will need to exert some effort until you reach the right consistency. It can be a great bonding time with the family or friends, and you can take turns mixing the coconut milk and the glutinous rice flour mixture.
You can also use a traditional wood-fired stove if you have one ready; be sure to control the amount of wood you’re feeding the furnace to avoid overcooking our dish.
Other Delicious Variants of Best Espasol Recipe
The good thing about sweet delicacies is that you can cook them and modify them depending on your preference and the available ingredients. To give you an idea of how to do them, we have a list of our dish variations that you can try to provide you with a head start.
Espasol with Cheese
Cheese is always a fitting partner to any sweet treat, may it be cake or a native delicacy, and this time we can do the same thing with our featured dish. The contrast of flavors is indeed heaven-sent.
There are a ton of cheese varieties that you can choose from, you can use quick melt for that melt-in-your-mouth experience, or you can also use goat’s milk for a unique taste and approach.
With Langka Recipe
Langka or Jackfruit is a very versatile fruit. One can use it for many other dishes and native delicacies. The sweetness, fragrance, and texture it gives form as an essential component of many Filipino dishes.
To include it as an ingredient for an Espasol recipe, we need to caramelize it first. Assure to boil equal amounts of water and sugar until the sugar melts and forms a syrup-like consistency. Then mix in the langka strips and cook them until the strips are ready.
Use the langka strips as a filling for our dish to give it a different texture.
With Condensed Milk Recipe
Sweetened condensed milk is a darling for a wide variety of dishes because it gives a creamy and sweet flavor to whatever dish it is adding to. And adding it to our dishes makes it even more delectable.
You can either use it as a filling for the recipes or use it as the sweetener instead of the regular sugar. The condensed milk also makes the texture and consistency of our featured dish smoother.
With Macapuno Recipe
Macapuno or the jelly-like flesh inside a coconut fruit is a unique addition to many Filipino dishes. The texture adds a layer of interest to many dishes.
Adding this to recipes creates the delicacy even more decadent because of the contrast of texture and the different layers of flavors and sweetness. Use the macapuno as a filling for that added bite.
Chocolate Flavor Recipe
Chocolate will always be a treat, may it be a drink or a dessert. And because of its reputation for being a choice of flavor for most dish items, we can use it as a flavor for our recipes.
You can use the powder form, or if you want to extract the authentic flavors of it, you can use tablea for that bittersweet taste. Dissolve the tablea in the coconut milk mixture and proceed as indicated in the recipe.
The color and the bittersweet flavor is a unique innovation from the usual recipes offerings.
Ube Flavor Recipe
Another ubiquitous ingredient in Filipino cuisine is purple yam or Ube, a root crop that is colored purple or pale blue. You can see it being used for dishes like Halo-halo or as the main ingredient for Ube Halaya.
This time, we are going to include it in recipes as the flavoring and coloring. Boil and mash the ube until smooth, then have it in the coconut milk mixture. Once the mixture is ready, do away with the rest of the process.
Espasol, which is very famous in Laguna and the other parts of Luzon, is called Baye-Baye in the Panay Islands. The ingredients and the cooking process are similar, but the significant difference is how they are wrapping.
Espasol is cylindrical, while the Baye-Baye is shaped like a hockey puck and is then selling by the roadside.
The ingredients for our dish are simple and easy to procure; that is why to ensure an excellent quality outcome, we have some tips that can help you achieve just that.
When choosing which coconut milk to use, always go for the freshly grated option. Have press the coconut milk and the coconut cream to ensure that you are getting the freshest ingredients every time.
Kitchen mishaps are sometimes unavoidable. That is why we include these time-tested troubleshooting tips when cooking our dish recipes.
- If the consistency is runny, add coconut cream and simmer on low fire until thick.
- If it lacks sweetness, gradually add white sugar until you achieve the right amount of sweetness.
Best Serve With
Desserts are perfectly at the end of each meal, so we listed down a few recipes that can make you appreciate our dish even more.
- Beef Mami – This Chinese-inspired noodle dish is famous, especially for the working class Filipinos, people who prefer a quick yet filling meal before they head back to work. The salty and savory flavor is a fitting contrast to our dish recipes’ sweet and creamy taste.
- Papaitan – The bitter, sour, and salty flavors of this unique dish are exciting. And to wash down the aftertaste, the sweetness of our dish can take care of that.
- Pancit Sotanghon – What can be a more Filipino merienda pairing than a nice hot bowl of this noodle soup dish and dessert? Anybody who grew up in the province is sure to be nostalgic when they chow down on this pair.
Traditional recipes don’t have to be tough to replicate. One only needs the right tips and techniques to perfect recipes that have been a part of our history and heritage.
That is why we are confident that with all the things that we have shared with you, you are now equipping to cook the great Espasol for your family.
Until next time, happy cooking!
For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!
Best Espasol Recipe
- Rectangular Tray
- 1/2 kg Glutinous rice
- 1 cup Coconut milk
- 1 cup White sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- In a skillet, put glutinous rice and toast until lightly brown over low heat, when it turned lightly brown already separate 1/2 cup for dusting.
- In a separate pan, combine coconut milk, white sugar, vanilla, and salt. Bring to boil and slowly add the toasted glutinous flour. Continue stirring the mixture for 15 minutes.
- When the mixture is sticky enough then it's cook already.
- Now spread half of the toasted glutinous rice onto a tray then add the Espasol mixture.
- Divide the mixture into parts or sizes according to your preference.
- Then spread the remaining toasted glutinous flour on top of the Espasol.
- Let it cool. Serve and enjoy!