Ginataang Bilo-bilo is widely popular in the Philippines. It’s usually enjoyed as an afternoon snack or “merienda”. Out of the many versions of Ginataan, the Bilo-bilo is my favorite. It’s soup full of a sweet mix deserving to be called comfort food.
Ginataan means “cooked in coconut milk” (gata means coconut milk in Tagalog). It comes in many variations from spicy curries to sweet desserts.
Bilo-bilo refers to the chewy rice balls in the porridge. It’s made of glutinous rice flour mixed with water and molded into mini dough balls. Sometimes it uses food coloring to add a pop of color.
Serves 6-8 people
MINI DOUGH BALLS:
- 1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
- 1 ounce of water
- 3 cans of coconut milk
- 1 cup of water
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut in chunks
- 1 purple yam, peeled and cut in chunks
- 1 Saba banana, peeled and cut in chunks
- 1/4 cup of canned sweet jackfruit, cut in strips
- 1/4 cup syrup of sweet jackfruit (comes in the canned jackfruit)
- 1/4 cup small tapioca pearls, cooked
- 1/4 -1/2 cup of organic sugar (or more to taste)
When buying Saba bananas (usually available at Asian and Latin stores), pick the softer, mushier ones. If it’s not that soft, it’s not ripe yet.
To cook the tapioca pearls:
The ratio of water to tapioca pearls should be 7:1. So if we’re using 1/4 tapioca pearls, boil 6 3/4 cup of water and add the tapioca pearls. Mix every once in a while so the tapioca won’t stick to each other. Turn off the heat once the tapioca softens (about 8 minutes).
To make the Bilo-bilo or dough balls:
Mix the glutinous rice with water. Mold to form mini dough balls, about 1/4 inch in diameter. Set aside.
To make the Coconut milk porridge:
- In a medium pot, pour the coconut milk and water and heat until boiling.
- Drop the dough balls. Once the balls submerge on the top, they’re cooked.
- Add the purple yam, sweet potato, and bananas. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Add the jackfruit, jackfruit syrup, tapioca pearls, and sugar. Mix and add more sugar to taste.
- Simmer until the yam and sweet potato are tender. When simmering, mix every once in a while so the tapioca pearls won’t stick on the bottom of the pot. Add more coconut milk or water if the porridge got too thick.
Overtime, the tapioca pearls might absorb more liquid and make the soup thicker. If it got too thick, just add more coconut milk and sugar.
Some people enjoy Ginataang Bilo-bilo hot while others prefer it cold. I suggest to try it in both temperatures and let me know what you think!