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Super collector delivers old-style bibingka recipe


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POSTED: Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mary Wong has 3,000 cookbooks. Three. Thousand. (Imagine the bookshelves in that house.) Her collection features regional cookbooks from all over the world, dating to 1890, including several from the '40s and '50s from Hawaii.

But she's today's hero not because of anything she found in her formidable hard-copy collection, but for her Internet explorations.

Wong responded quickly to a request printed here last week from Debbie Collman seeking an old-fashioned recipe for the Filipino dessert bibingka.

“;The old-style one, da kine they made at the chicken fight kine,”; Collman wrote. “;Looks like one big muffin. It was made from scratch and used to be baked in a small coffee can with banana leaves inside. ... They used to grind the rice and add coconut milk.”;

Most contemporary recipes for bibingka use mochiko — sweetened rice flour — and are baked in cake pans, like Japanese mochi. But Wong had an old-style recipe — the closest I think you can get in this day and age. She found it at http://www.pinoyrecipe.net, a site she says has yielded several good Filipino recipes.

This is a complicated recipe that involves grinding your own rice and extracting your own coconut milk, but Wong has tested it herself and says it's quite good.

Her tip if you live in a part of the world where banana leaves are hard to find: Use softened corn husks, sold for making tamales.

It fits Collman's request almost perfectly, the only difference being the coffee can. It calls for an 8-inch baking dish, but a coffee can could certainly stand in, with perhaps a slight adjustment in baking time to be sure the center gets cooked.

Also, I can't swear to the chicken fight connection.

Bibingka Galapong

2 cups uncooked rice
2 cups water
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for brushing on banana leaves
1 cup thick coconut milk (see notes)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 sheet banana leaf
8 ounces cottage cheese or grated cheddar cheese

Soak rice in water overnight. Drain, reserving liquid. In a blender or food processor, grind rice finely, adding just enough reserved liquid so mixture is not dry. Set aside 12 hours at room temperature.

Preheat oven 350 degrees. Wilt banana leaves (see notes). Line two 8-inch baking dishes or heat-proof pans with leaves. Brush with butter.

Beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar and butter; beat until fluffy.

Pour coconut milk into ground rice; mix well. Beat into egg mixture until smooth. Stir in baking powder. Pour mixture into lined baking dishes. Top with cheese and brush with butter. Bake 20 minutes, until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve hot with more cheese on top and grated coconut on side.

Nutritional information unavailable.

NOTES

For thick coconut milk: Combine 3 cups grated coconut with 1 cup water, knead, then strain through cheesecloth. Or mix 1/2 cup canned or packaged coconut cream with 1/2 cup water (note that brands vary in thickness, so follow instructions on package).

To wilt banana leaves: Dip in boiling water until they begin to soften. Or if you have a gas stove, pass leaves over an open flame for a few seconds.

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