Sunday, January 11, 2015

Puto Bungbong

Puto Bungbong - recipe from Filipino Foods Recipes

There are many varieties of "puto" or steamed rice cake. I've already touched on the Puto Binan of my mom's hometown, I've posted a recipe for puto on my blog and today's post is about Puto Bungbong. Many Filipinos associate Christmas time with Puto Bungbong (or Bumbong), similar to how fruitcake and eggnog make an appearance in an American Christmas.
On our first day in the Philippines, as we walked the streets of my original hometown with my cousin Abby, we saw Puto Bungbong being made by a street vendor.
She had a steamer and an inverted funnel to her left and to her right was a basin full of purple dough nestled in purple flour. At the top of the funnel was a cylinder into which she would place a portion of dough, insert it over the top of the funnel and within seconds, pound out the purple cylinder shape of Puto Bungbong. Supposedly it got its name by the sound the cylinder,  typically a bamboo tube, makes when the puto is pounded out of the tube "bunggg! bonggg!" like a tap-tap. Or so they say.
The hot, fresh Puto Bumbong is wrapped in banana leaves and sold along with grated fresh coconut and brown sugar. This vendor was selling several pieces for 35 pesos or the equivalent of $.67 USD.
Genuine/traditional Puto Bumbong is made with a special kind of glutinous rice that has a distinct purple color, as evidenced by the final product. That's not food coloring that makes that beautiful purple color, at least not in authentic Puto Bungbong.
I don't know if that purple rice flour is available in the States so I've included a recipe below that calls for the food coloring as it uses a more readily available rice that can be found in Asian grocery stores. Please note that I haven't tried this recipe myself as I'm actually not a big consumer of puto bungbong. I don't mind the chewy texture and the flavor is okay but I prefer other types of puto. You can also view youtube videos of how to make puto bumbong.
Nevertheless, I'm including this as part of my travelogue as it's very traditional Filipino Christmas time fare. And I like the color. My parents bought some for my nieces to try and they enjoyed it. They have a much more adventurous palate than I do and the (fortunate) ability to enjoy a wide variety of foods.
1 kg Malagkit/galapong (glutinous) rice, mixed with 125 grams ordinary rice
1/5 tsp. Lilac or violet food coloring
Pandan leaves
1 pc shredded mature coconut
Banana leaves

  1. Soak pre-ground malagkit/galapong or glutinous rice and ordinary rice mixture in salted water with lilac/violet food coloring for 1-4 hours. Let dry overnight by putting inside a flour sack.
  2. Put something heavy on top to squeeze out water. Mixture is ready for cooking the following morning.
  3. Or to manually grind rice mix – Slowly grind using a stone grinder or manual grinder. Do not put too much water in while grinding. It will delay drying of milled ingredients. Too much water on the other hand will cause the mixture to be sticky. Put milled ingredients onto cotton cloth and tie corners of the cloth. Let drip. When the mixture is almost dried, press by using a heavy object to remove excess water. Let stand overnight.
  4. Place pandan leaves in water to be steamed. Heat steamer (lansungan) with enough water.
  5. Put a small amount of rice mixture inside bamboo tubes (bumbong) about 3/4 full. Steam for a few minutes. Serve warm with coconut and sugar.

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