February 9, 2008

Palitaw: A Sticky Situation


I've had this post in my dashboard queue since Nov. 19, can you believe it? Yes, it's one of many that were in the pipeline and saved as drafts so I don't forget. Saved post titles work like the strings on Ernie's fingers for me, since I have such a bad memory. :)

I made palitaw (sticky rice treat) for the first time for my mom's surprise birthday dinner last November. With the help of my sister and her mother-in-law, we managed to pull it off without a hitch. It was an intimate affair with family and her close cousins in a dreamy garden setting.

We went with a Filipino menu because mom loves the stuff. Since I was busy in the office and couldn't risk cooking large quantities of food at home without arousing suspicion, I offered to make dessert, inconspicuous as that can be. It was also the perfect occasion to try my hand at making palitaw, one of my favorite local snacks. Yes, it's really more of an afternoon snack but it's sweet enough as a nice ending to a meal.

I wasn't sure how easy it would be until I happened upon a show on TV which had teams of expats running around the streets of Manila in an Amazing Race style contest. One of their challenges was streetside palitaw-making. Here was a bunch of foreigners who have probably never even tried the stuff much less know what the finished product is supposed to look like digging their hands into a bowl of what looked like white paste actually making decent looking palitaw. If they can do it, so can I!

A few months later, I did.


Ingredients :
5 cups rice flour; plus
another cup to keep your hands dry
3 cups water
1/3 cup sesame seeds or linga
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups freshly grated coconut

Boil some water in a large pot.

While waiting for this to boil, toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet.
They burn very easily so make sure you are constantly moving the seeds. Once toasted, set aside to cool completely.

Now here is where it starts to get real sticky. Mix the rice flour with the
water until a soft mixture forms. Wash and dry your hands carefully then coat them with the extra flour. Take a pinch of dough, about a teaspoonful, and flatten it between your palms. Keeping it from sticking to your palms is the only true challenge. If it's too sticky, don't be afraid to add more flour until you form a solid patty. It took me a while to get the technique. I even had to call on my aunt's cook next door to show me how she does it.

When nicely formed, drop it gingerly in the boiling water. You can cook about three pieces at a time, depending on the size of your pot. Remove with a slotted spoon as soon as it rises to the surface. Coat it in the grated coconut and arrange on a serving plate.

Mix the sugar with the cooled sesame seeds. It's important that you don't combine it while the sesame seeds are still hot or the sugar will melt. Then you can either dust this over the coated palitaw or serve it on the side.

I'm not sure exactly how many this recipe makes, but there was more than enough for the 20 or so guests. You can freeze left over palitaw without the sugar mixutre in an air-tight container and then steam before serving.

These turned out great and was quite a hit! And I'm happy to say I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between these and those from a popular local restaurant where I've ordered it many times. :)


mtan said...

Students at school just made palitaw, it was... waterier than expected, but with the dried coconut and sugar, a good snack for the mid-morning. One of my childhood favorites!

toni said...

Palitaw! A classic Filipino treat. I love it. Congrats on mastering this much-loved snack!

ScroochChronicles said...

Palitaw is one of my all-time favorite Pinoy snacks. I love it so much that one time when my mom tasked me to make bilo-bilo for our ginataan I made them palitaw size instead. Naturally, this infuriated my mother but everyone who had that ginataan was happy.

I try not to use rice flour, though. I prefer to use freshly ground malagkit from the palengke. I find that it has a better texture :)

katrina said...

Yum, palitaw! Seriously, do you know anyone who doesn't like it?! :-) The actual palitaw doesn't taste like much, but with the coconut, sugar and (my favorite) sesame seeds, it's quite addictive! I can eat lots of these. Bravo on even attempting to make it (for a party, at that!), and then conquering it. I always think Pinoy snacks/desserts are more daunting.

christine said...

Mila, it's quite tricky to make but it's so easy kids could definitely make it, and have fun in the process! :)

Hi Toni, thanks! I love it too, but sometimes I put way too much of the sugar and sesame seed mix, not very good for me. :)

Hey Cookie! wow palitaw sized bilo-bilo in ginataan haha, sounds like that would make me happy too! I love fishing out the bilo2. :) Thanks for the tip, I'll try making it using the ground malagkit.

Katrina, they're really addictive! I can eat a lot of it if I don't watch myself.

Sidney said...

I love the eating part but I dislike the cooking part.

Sandy Carlson said...

That looks delicious. I'll have to try to make it. Beautiful photo, too.

Noemi "Mica" Watson said...

looks very yummy! care to xlinks?

christine said...

Sidney, haha, sometimes I feel the same way! :)

Thanks Sandy, I do hope you try it. I don't know anyone who doesn't like the stuff. :)

Thanks, Noemi, sure.

joey said...

This is but my absolute favorite pinoy snacks :) YUM! Your palitaw looks perfect :)

Marvin said...

wow, that does look fairly easy to make. thanks for sharing christine.

Dhanggit said...

i made this with my hubby and he did enjoyed it!! it was indeed a sticky but he loved it!! wish i could do it this recipe again here in france..

christine said...

Joey, me too, SNAKS! :)

Hey Marvin, you're welcome. It's really easy, and quite fun to make. You can chase your wife around with the gunky white palms after. :)

Dhanggit, why can't you make it there? No rice flour in france?

u8mypinkcookies said...

palitaw! yummy! :) i love native rice cakes!

SimplePleasures said...

Wow! Palitaw has always been my favorite in all Filipino sweets! I've been meaning to make some however I didn't have any idea what linga is and the thing is I even ask Filipino women who cooks and they didn't know what linga is so I got stuck. Now I now I might eventually try to make some :) thanks!

christine said...

umypinkcookies (love the nickname:)), me too! One of the advantages of living in the Philippines, is having so many rice cakes to pick from! :)

Hi simplepleasures, you're welcome! I hope you get to try it, let me know if you do. :)

starsapphire said...

oh... na mimiss ko yan, palitaw is also my favorite eversince and also bibingka

christine said...

Starsapphire, welcome to the club! :) Try to make some, it's really super easy.