Tag Archives: Bibingka

#347 Salabat

Salabat is hot ginger tea made by boiling crushed ginger in water. Brown sugar or honey is used to sweeten the beverage. Kamote (sweet potato), sago, or carabao’s milk are added by some to salabat.

Salabat is found to have healing properties and is used to ease cold symptoms and stomach aches. It soothes sore throats and is said to sweeten the singing voice.

Salabat tea is now available in powdered form for convenience in preparation. It is a favorite drink during the cold season, and is often given drunk during cold nights. The drink is also popular during the Christmas season and is often drunk or served with bibingka (rice cake) and puto bumbong (steamed rice cakeoutside churches after Simbang Gabi (Misa de Gallo).

Long live Philippine traditions!

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#31 Bibingka

If there is a ”mother-of-all-Philippine-rice-cakes’,’ bibingka would win the title hands down.

Bibingka is not only a rice cake that crosses regional lines in the Philippines it also has an iconic status in traditional Philippine cooking. Traditional Philippine baking employs very spartan kitchen implements, and the baking process is a tedious one involving hours of preparing the glutinous rice and coconut milk mixture and, equally challenging, preparing the earthenware pots that served as ‘oven.’

With the pasty mixture poured into pots that are lined with banana leaves, the earthenware pots are placed inside improvised stone ovens, and charcoal fire is placed on top and below to slowly (and carefully) heat the stone oven. If this description is hard to follow, the baking itself is an equally tough challenge. Of course with modern ovens, this tedious process became impractical, but discriminating bibingka diehards swear that cakes baked the traditional way are more tastier.

Proof of bibingka’s iconic status is that the word bibingka itself has entered Filipino venacular as in “Parang na-bibingka sa init,” which means to experience hellish heat or fire. Imagine experiencing fire on top and fire below! Or the comment “Ang girlfriend niya ay mukhang bibingka.‘” Translation: ‘His girlfriend looks like a bibingka”  Not necessarily a compliment as it means that the girl has a plumpy figure or is moon-face (bibingka is round and soft).

The cake is best eaten fresh when it is still warm, soft with a subtle nutty taste. Variants of the bibingka are bibingka cassava (local yum), with optional toppings of grated coconut. As with other rice cakes, a perfect accompaniment for bibingka is hot chocolate. With this delicious duo, one could never invent a more delightful treat!

Mabuhay ang bibingka!

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