Monday, November 24, 2008

A Box of Sweet Potatoes and Ginataan

What do you do with a box of sweet potatoes? Think ginataan or bilo-bilo. It is a delicious dessert. It is filling and nutritious. Most of all, it screams Filipino dessert! Ginataan, bilo-bilo is so popular; many Filipinos make this dessert to bring to a church potluck. My family likes to warm the souls of a church crowd with this dessert. It is simple and easy to make. Most of all, it is also budget friendly. The cost of making ginataan to feed 20 people: $ 10.00-12.00.

Here's what you need:
1/2 c. Sweet Rice Flour plus more for flouring hands
2 tbsp. warm Water
2 cans Coconut milk
1/4 c. Tapioca
4 c. Water
4 medium size Sweet Potatoes cubed
2 large or 4 medium Gabi (Taro) Root cubed
4 Musa Saba Bananas cubed
1 jar Coconut Gel (Nata de Coco) drained
1 can Jackfruit drained cubed or julienned
1/3 c. Sugar

In a separate 1 quart pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. When boiling vigorously, pour tapioca. Shut off heat and pull away from stove. Set aside for 1 hour.

Sweet rice flour on a deep dish, make a well and pour warm water. Keep adding water until flour is flexible and gives a wet consistency. Mixture should be pliable but firm. Take a handful and squeeze in the palm of hands. Mixture should form a clump. Put some flour on the palm of hands and make 1/4 inch balls by rolling flour mixture between palms to resemble marbles. Set aside. Prepare the rest of ingredients by slicing in cubes sweet potatoes, saba bananas, gabi root, and jackfruit. Jackfruit can be julienne (cut in long slices).
Bring 2 cans of coconut milk to a boil. Add more water if desired. When small bubbles rise on the surface, coconut milk is ready.

Add prepared sweet rice flour balls and wait for second boil. Stir occasionally to prevent from sticking on the bottom of pot. When bubbles appear on the surface, add gabi, sweet potatoes and sugar. Keep stirring as coconut milk has a tendency to burn easily and settle on the bottom to form solid consistency; an easy mistake to ruin ginataan.

When gabi and sweet potatoes are fork tender, add saba bananas. Bananas should also be fork tender and are faster to cook than gabi and sweet potatoes. Continue stirring.
Add coconut gel and jackfruit. At this time, tapioca balls should double in size. The outer layer should be opaque with a white center. When squeezed between fingers, the center is hard. Tapioca is still half cooked; it continues cooking when added into the pot of coconut milk. Continue stirring. Wait for mixture to come to a boil and make sure all ingredients are fork tender. This is a good time to taste and add more sugar if necessary. It should be sweet but not like candy. When done remove from heat. Place in deep container and saran wrap tightly. Now its ready to travel to church. Place in a box to protect car seat. Upon arrival at church, microwave in church kitchen and enjoy ginataan, bilo-bilo, in cold, gloomy fall weather with church crowd.

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