"Tuguegarao" was my quick reply.
"I would like to feature bloggers who will share a dish that represents their childhood and their hometown, will you guest blog for me?" was his invitation.
The words childhood and hometown ignited a spark in me. During this cold winter season, warm thoughts about my childhood and hometown comforts me. So I said yes in a heartbeat. I am humbly sharing with you my recipe for Pinataro. Pinataro is usually served as a snack (or merienda) and is best described as sticky rice dumplings shaped like marbles in a sauce of caramelized toasted coconut milk reduction.
Come on over to Wok with Ray where I share with you the recipe and the memories that went with it.
When Ray invited me to post about a dish from my hometown, I instinctively thought about exotic dishes (boy there were many!). But the thought of these rice dumplings shaped like marbles raced through my mind, and it lured me to my kitchen where I quickly started making them. So here I am sharing with you one of my favorite merienda (snacks) during my childhood and the joy that came with preparing it.
I come from the small town of Tuguegarao, which is situated in the northern tip of the Philippines. When I was growing up, there were no giant fast food chains (McDonald's, Jollibee, Shakey's, etc.) in my hometown so our food was always homemade, every dish made from scratch.
To illustrate, let's take the case of making this dish called pinataro (pi-nah-tah-roh). Pinataro is an Ibanag (our local dialect) dish, which is actually sticky rice dumplings drenched in caramelized coconut reduction.
It's similar to the galapong sa latik of the Tagalogs. In making this sweet concoction, we need 3 ingredients: sugar, sticky rice flour and coconut milk. Simple you might think, right? But back then, 2 out of 3 ingredients had to be made fresh. The coconut milk had to be grated and milk extracted by hand. (If you are intrigued how it's traditionally done, Tracy of Tangled Noodles has a very intersting post here). After the coconut milk is extracted, the glutenous rice had to be made into powder/flour. It took the whole afternoon to make it.
Times have changed, as we no longer need to take these tedious steps. But somehow, making Pinataro took me back to memories of me helping in the kitchen, making small round rice balls out of the glutenous rice. The repetitive motion of forming the rice dumplings made me recall how much fun I felt as a kid; like it was playing with play-doh. The texture of the dough in my palms and the flour dust on my apron remind me of the happiness I felt back then. The scent of the coconut simmering awakened all of my senses and jolted my memory into reliving those moments, just like it happened yesterday... And it gives me so much joy.
I'm glad that I didn't have to work as hard as our helpers did before, but I am very grateful to them for selflessly sharing with me the joys of making a pot of pinataro, a dish I could turn to during this cold winter day.
Pinataro (Galapong sa Latik)
1 can of coconut milk
3/4 c sugar ( you may adjust according to your preference)
1 c sweet rice flour
drops of vanilla flavoring (optional)
Mix the sweet rice flour with a little water just enough to make dough. Form marble sized balls like so. Set aside.
Meanwhile let's make the latik. Latik is the residue formed from the reduction of coconut milk. Just pour the whole can of coconut milk in a thick saucepan. Bring it to boil and continue to stir until most of the liquid has evaporated. The milk will begin to change its color to slight brown and begin to solidify. At this point add the brown sugar. Continue to stir until the sugar caramelizes. Once it has caramelized, add a little water and let it simmer to form a thick sauce. Now drop the sticky rice balls and let it simmer until the balls are cooked.
The steps are simple right? But I promise you, it's happiness in a bowl.