Ube biko – also known as a purple yam flavored sticky rice cake. It is a different take to the traditional treat that is biko. Biko is a sweet rice cake originating from the Philippines and generally contains coconut milk, brown sugar, ginger, and glutinous rice. In addition, they are topped with what is called, latik. Latik is a coconut-type topping that consists of either or both coconut curds or the syrupy caramel-like variant.
Consider this as a dessert where you can combine rice, ube halaya/ ube powder, and other necessary ingredients like coconut milk into a sweet treat.
This sticky rice cake dish falls under the category of a “kalamay” dish. Generally a sweet snack, kalamay generally covers dishes made of coconut milk, brown sugar, and ground glutinous rice. With ube biko, the only difference is the addition of ube. You can find ube in a variety of dishes as an alternative flavor
Ube flavoring is also popular as many dessert dishes such as ube halaya. The cooked ube glutinous rice also brings a more earthy and sweet balanced taste to the generally sweet treat. There are different ways you can try to make this dish, here is one biko recipe you can try as a beginner for this treat.
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 4 cups glutinous rice
- 3 cups water
- 3 cans of coconut milk 13.5 ounces each
- 1 cup ube halaya
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 drops ube extract
Instructions for Latik
- In a pan over medium heat, add the coconut cream and bring to a boil. Cook and stir occasionally, until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Let the mixture simmer on a low heat. Once the oil starts to separate and solids begin to form, regularly stir and scrape sides and bottom of the pan to prevent burning.
- Cook and stir until curds turn golden brown. Use a fine-mesh sieve or colander to drain the latik and reserve oil.
Instructions for Sticky Rice
- Grease bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 x 1 baking pan with coconut oil.
- Wash the glutinous rice until water runs almost clear and drain well.
- Steam the rice in a rice cooker and let it cool. Let it cool enough for you to seperate the grains with a fork to make the rice fluffy and easier to work with.
- In a wide non-stick skillet, combine coconut milk, ube halaya, sugar, and salt. Stir until well-blended.
- Boil the mixture over a medium heat. When its boiling, lower the heat and continue to cook untilthe mixture is slightly reduced and thickened.
- Add ube extract and stir it into the mixture.
- Add rice and gently mix it together for an even distribution.
- Cook and stir occasionally for about 1 hour or until mixture is very thick, sticky, and can be taken out of the pot.
- Spoon the biko into the prepared baking dish and pat down with a lightly greased spatula to even out.
- Lightly brush the top with coconut oil, cut into portions, and top with latik.
What to Know About Ube
If you are not that familiar with ube, it can be an experience to try. As stated, there are plenty of treats where you can have it with the purple yam flavor. With ube biko, there are different ways you can add ube flavoring. Depending on the ube biko recipe, ube flavoring comes in different forms. The most traditional way to add ube flavoring is by adding ube halaya.
Ube Halaya or halayang ube is a type of jam made from boiled and mashed purple yam. You can also try adding the yam flavoring by using powdered dehydrated purple yam/ ube powder or experiment with freshly grated purple yam. To make things simple though, it’s easiest to add ube halaya to the glutinous rice/ sticky rice mix. But, you’ll find that ube is a versatile option for any Filipino dessert recipe. Especially since any dessert with an ube flavor add some earthiness to it.
While it helps to know about the versatility of ube, the key to making this sticky rice cake dish delicious is knowing how to work the glutinous rice. It is also key to have a good toasted grated coconut topping. To further enhance your ube biko dish, remember to add the coconut milk mixture at the right time.
A good way to know when the rice is the right consistency is to continue to cook it for three minutes or at the maximum, fifteen depending on the servings. Or at the very least, continue to cook the rice until it is thick and sticky. Remember to use a non stick pan if you want to avoid a mess. Basically, remember that ube biko is a rice cake dish that involves more than the ube flavor.
If you are looking for a smaller serving of this dish, consider using
History and Variations of the Ube Biko Recipe
Given that the dessert is a variation of Kalamay, the first thing to understand is the dish’s background. Kalamay has no specific date of origin but it has been around since the Spanish colonization period. This delicacy can be enjoyed by itself but is often used as a sweetener for various desserts and beverages.
When it comes to traditional Filipino biko, there are different variations to explore outside of ube biko.
In the Cebuano-speaking regions of the Philippines, there is a dish called puto maya. This dish consists of purple glutinous rice (tapol), which is mixed with coconut milk, salt, sugar, and ginger juice. If you want to try a different flavoring of biko, try pandan biko. You just have to add pandan leaves extract into the biko mixture. You can also check out adding a knotted pandan leaf as an option.
For something unique, you can try bikong navotas or biko with munggo. It is essentially, a mixture involving glutinous white rice and green mung beans.
Whatever way you decide to enjoy biko, it is still a delightful dessert to try and there are many ways to give it a delicious twist. Just know though, that, unlike ube biko, there are certain desserts that are best tried in their traditional form and one of them is leche flan.