Brown Sugar & Coconut Love

“The coconut nut is a giant nut if you eat too much you get very fat” goes that Smoky Mountain ditty about the Tree of Life’s unassuming fruit.  Well I haven’t gotten fat eating it, I must say!  The juice is good for gallstones and general kidney ailments.  Detox! The meat adds bulk but not to your body – its fiber!  Quite healthy eating, that nut!  Except when you eat loads!

Last post on coconuts I promise!  These here are all that remained of the last harvest.  I think I wrote about palitaw sometime back but didn’t have a picture.  Well, here it is!  Mom cheated, and so would you!  You can buy malagkit flour packs at Chocolate Lovers or some supermarkets these days.  Malagkit flour is flour ground from malagkit grains – it’s an heirloom rice variety that’s real sticky by nature, not just sticky when you cook it.  If you grind the malagkit yourself, it’s tough going, and you need the stone grinder.  Ever seen one of those tabletop fountains where two round stones were placed, one on top of the other, with the top stone moving round and round and water comes out between the two stones, as if squeezed out? That’s what it looks like, only huge, and you work it by hand, round and round till you develop muscles or muscle ache hehehe. 
So this ready made malagkit flour needs just a bit of water.  You add the water to the powder until you get the texture and consistency you wanted. Thin or thick, smooth or rough. You can make bilo bilo with it too (for ginatan).  These you form into balls.  For palitaw, you make oblongs, like shiny little white tongues.  Tastes like bland dough and that’s the beauty of it – it could take on any flavor topping or sauce you heap or douse it with.  So you form or shape the dough and then plop them in boiling water.  It falls to the bottom of the pot, right?  In Tagalog, you call that action lulubog or to sink.  When the dough is cooked, it plumps up and floats upwards.  That’s when you call it palitaw: the antonym to lulubog.  To litaw is to appear! Okay end of tutorial hehehe.  You fish it out of the water, let it dry a bit in the colander and then you can smother it with grated fresh niyog (mature coconut, the white shreds).  Enjoy with gritty sweet brown sugar and toasted sesame seeds.  Ours didn’t have sesame but that’s okay, too.

Mom is on a roll.  She made biko, too.  First, she cooked malagkit rice in the rice cooker, with two pandan leaves in it.  When it was cooked, she cooked it some more in a wok (minus the pandan), with coconut milk and brown sugar until the rice sopped up everything.  The cooked biko you spread in a baking pan and that’s it.  The stuck up grains (hehehe) takes on the baking pan’s shape and you just cut into squares for serving. In another wok, mom has gata or coconut milk simmering away until it coagulates into dregs and turns a nice light caramel brown color.  That’s what you put on top of the biko. It should be subtly sweet.  You want it a darker brown, you cook the biko in melted panutsa (muscovado sugar shaped like playing tops).  Makes it sweeter, too.

Mom also made coco jam! It is coconut milk and panutsa cooked a long, looong time!  It's our pan de sal filling until supplies last.
For someone who doesn’t have a proper province to call her own and the quaint cooking tradition and secrets that comes with, my mom picked up quite a hodgepodge of coconut based recipes.  All because of two golden coconut trees flourishing, come heat or high water.


P.s.  I put in translations and try to give some details because my page views reflects clicks from Europe!  A search site even bookmarked some posts under the heading “happy life in the Philippines”.  How cool is that! Thanks for finding sweetsakes interesting!  

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