Uncooked pirurutong rice (above) and the cooked pirurutong suman or rice cake
Pirurutong rice is a purple-brown aromatic rice which is often used in many rice cakes due to its soft and glutinous consistency when cooked.
Pirurutong can also be ground into a flour, which is then used in making the Christmas rice cakes called “puto bungbong” (although many puto bungbong makers nowadays use regular rice flour with artificial purple coloring).
Suman na pirurutong (pirurutong rice cake) is cooked ‘biko’ style which is basically steaming the pirurutong rice mixed with undiluted coconut cream and later topped with coco jam.
Depending on the region or the cook, there are several versions of the pirurutong suman with some cooks using crushed ginger to flavor the steamed rice or squeezing a few drops of kalamansi (Philippine lemon) to add a zesty taste to the rice cake.
A rice dessert and delicacy, puto bungbong is a variety of glutinous rice cakes traditionally eaten during the Christmas season.
Dyed in purple and cooked or steamed with coconut milk, puto bungbong is prepared in big aluminium pans, where it is steamed inside a bamboo or funnel-like contraption. The rice cake is served in fresh banana leaves and topped with grated coconut. It is best eaten when still warm or freshly cooked.
During the week of late-night Church mass (Simbang Gabi) preceding Christmas Day, puto bungbong vendors flocked to church yards or nearby public squares to sell this native snack to devout churchgoers and passersby. This rice cake is closely associated with cozy Christmas nights when the evening air turns chilly and people have the appetite to go for a midnight snack right after going to church.
Puto bungbong is also accompanied with a hot drink of steaming, thick chocolate (called tsokolate puro or pure chocolate), a remnant of Spanish eating traditions.
Mabuhay ang puto bungbong!