Rex introduces you to the ingredients you need for this week to create the sweet rice dish Suman. This week is a real celebration of Filipino farming. There is a strong heritage built around rice in the Philippines and social entrepreneurs are working closely with small-scale farmers who work on the famed terraces of the Cordillera Mountains of Luzon to support these indigenous traditions and heirloom rice varieties. Also as one of the top five banana exporters in the world, there is no shortage of banana and banana leaves in Filipino cuisine!
Banana leaves - this week we're using the banana leaves as a vessel for the suman, toasting them over fire to make them more flexible for wrapping our rice in before then steaming which adds a subtle, sweet aroma and flavour to the dish. Banana leaves have a long food history in Filipino cuisine and are also used in plating for example, a Kamayan (meaning "by hand" in Tagalog) is a communal feast served on banana leaves and as the name would suggest the food is eaten by hand and was the traditional way of eating in pre-colonial times. These feasts are less commonplace nowadays but banana leaves are a great alternative to disposable plastic plates and is the perfect example of taking inspiration from our past as we work towards a more sustainable future. are still being used as an alternative to plastic plates as a more sustainable alternative.
Glutinous rice - known as "malagkit" meaning “viscous” (sticky), glutinous rice symbolises family closeness and is used widely in native delicacies including suman, bilo-bil and bibingka. The art is in the mixing of ingredients with the rice and is often infused with the likes of coconut milk, steamed banana leaves or tea flavours. Many enjoy eating glutinous rice with their hands as it's easy to pull off bite-sized pieces to roll into a ball for dipping in sauces or a as a vessel for scooping up meats and vegetables.