Putong Puti Recipe (Filipino Steamed Rice Cakes)

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To introduce more about Filipino foods, I have my dear friend Elizabeth Besa Quirino of Asian in America, a Filipina who lives in the US with her Putong Puti recipe. Being an Indonesian, when I hear or read the words “Putong Puti”, I immediately recognize them. Putong or Puto (steamed rice cake) is the Indonesian term for Putu while Puti (white) means Putih in bahasa Indonesia. I asked her what the difference between Putong and Puto. Her explanation, “Puto” is the noun while Putong” becomes an adjective when the “ng” is added. It’s the context. I believe Putu has influenced from South Indian cuisine, Puthu (Steamed Cake).

Living in Winnipeg is making me more aware about similarities Indonesian and Filipino foods. With nearly 37,000 Filipinos in Winnipeg is making them the third largest Filipino community in Canada. About 1 out of 10 Filipinos in Canada call Winnipeg home. Winnipeg is home to the oldest Filipino community in Canada with Filipino immigration to Winnipeg beginning before 1950.

Honestly with so many Filipinos in town, I don’t find it’s hard to cook Indonesian foods.

Please welcome Asian in America with her Putong Puti (Filipino Steamed Rice Cake). Also, find a variety of Filipino Puto and Indonesian Putu at the bottom of this post.

One of the popular snack cakes Filipinos love is called “Puto”, which translates to rice cake. It’s also called “Putong Puti” or white rice cake, a description of what it is. Made simply from white rice that’s been soaked overnight, then ground to a thick batter, it’s the easiest snack to make. Once the “galapong”, rice batter is ready, sugar is added to sweeten and it is steamed on banana leaves for a few minutes. The result is a scrumptious, hearty rice snack, fragrant from the banana leaves that encase it. And if available, a few tablespoons of freshly grated coconut make this rice cake simply superb!

Filipino Steamed Rice Cakes

2 cups rice, soaked
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 and ½ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt

1. Wash the rice. Soak the rice overnight in about 2 cups water.

2. The next day, drain the rice grains. Place in a food processor with about ½ cup of the water used for soaking. Process till rice becomes a fine batter, which is called “galapong”. Repeat twice if needed.

3. You should have 2 cups rice “galapong”. To this, add sugar, salt and baking powder. Blend well.

4. Pour into non-stick tart molds, about two-thirds full. Arrange in a bamboo steamer and steam for 30 minutes or till done. Test “puto” for doneness, with a toothpick. Water under steamer must be boiling briskly.
5. When “puto” is cooked, allow to cool on the counter for 5 minutes. Turn over quickly, and carefully on a platter.

Optional: Serve with freshly grated coconut as topping for the “puto” or rice cake. In the Philippines, grated coconut can be bought at the markets. Or else fresh coconuts are harvested from trees in one’s backyard, and the fresh meat is grated just before using on rice cakes.

Indonesia Eats Notes:
* Filipino Puto Bumbong is similar to Indonesian Putu Bambu; a steamed rice cake is made by steaming it in bamboo pipe and making a very loud and unique sound during the cooking process.

* Filipino Puto Pandan is similar to Indonesian Putu Ayu (Pretty Putu).

* Kerala and Tamil Iddiyappam is similar to Indonesian Putu Mayang and Malaysian Putu Mayam.

There are many different Filipino puto depends on the area and ingredients.

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About the Author

An Indonesian-born who lived in Winnipeg Edmonton, Canada for more than a decade prior to move to Edmonton in 2017. Indonesia Eats is a memoir of her homeland.