Anybody remember the folk song of binte bilihuta? It’s not only a song title, binte biluhuta is a corn soup from Gorontalo.
Gorontalo province is known as the largest corn producer in Indonesia. Beside as an export commodity, sweet corns are main ingredients in the Gorontalo signature food, Binte Biluhuta. In addition to corns, this dish is also used other main ingredients, such as cakalang (known as skipjack tunas), tenggiri (king fish mackerels) and shrimps. Binte biluhuta or milu siram is a soup base dish that has very unique flavour. Sweetness from the corns, sourness from bilimbi and lime, hot from chilies. If you desire to complete the taste with bitterness, you may add chopped papaya leaves. The dish is very suitable during the cold weather, especially for those who are catching the flu.
You may wonder why I made this whilst it’s summer now. Don’t you think it will be too hot to enjoy this. Winnipeg’s weather is entering the fall. Some days are hot and the other days are gloomy, rain and cold. I chose making this soup in the gloomy weather since I still have had fresh corns.
In the local language, binte or milu means corn, biluhuta mean flush or pour. I guess, I can translate binte biluhuta as corn soup.
Gorontalo is located on the northern part of Sulawesi island and was established in December 2000 after splitting from North Sulawesi province. No wonder if this dish uses cakalang and lemon basils which are popular in Manadonese food as well.
Again, I said I’m lucky enough, surround by the Filipino community. I can find frozen cakalang at Asian stores. You got to know the science names in order to find fish names in other languages. Through this fishbase list, I found the Tagalog’s name for cakalang. Thou many Indonesian sources stated that cakalang has a bigger size than tongkol (another variety of tuna which is very popular in the west part of Indonesia), cakalangs in Winnipeg are sold in big and small sizes.
As you can see below, cakalang has a lighter skin colour than tongkol with strips on the body while tongkol has a darker skin colour with slimmer body and very popular in Java. Many people in Indonesia call cakalang as white tongkol.
Binte Biluhuta – Milu Siram
– Gorontalo Corn Soup –
recipe by Hayatinufus Tobing, modified and translated by me
- 425 g sweet corn kernels
- 300 g cakalang*
- 200 g peeled small or medium size shrimps
- 100 g frozen grated coconut
- 1 L water
- 4 shallots (8 shallots for smaller size), thinly sliced
- 10 bilimbi, sliced
- 25 lime basils
- 4 key limes
Spices to be ground:
- 3 long red cayenne pepper
- 5 bird eyes chilies (add more if you are able to handle spicy food)
For Broiled Cakalang:
1. Clean and rinse off the cakalang under running water.
2. Drizzle 2 key limes over and rub with salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.
3. Broil each side for 2 minutes at high. Cool down and shred the meat by hand.
For Binte Biluhuta:
1. In a pot, add water, corns and ground spices until the corn cooked.
2. Add grated coconut, shallots and bilimbi. Cook for the next 15 minutes.
3. Add shrimp and cakalang shredded; simmer for the next 5 minutes. Drizzle 2 key limes and add lemon basil. Stir and remove from the heat. Ready to serve.
* Feel free to substitute for cans of skipjack tuna if you can’t find fresh/frozen cakalang (skipjack tuna)