How suman de balete is prepared

Categories Food
Cooked suman sa balete. Each grouping is about P60
Cooked suman sa balete. Each grouping is about P60

The sound of women chatting from the small structure selling food and trinkets got my attention as we were exploring the century old balete tree (banyan tree, Ficus sp.) which is a popular tourist spot in Maria Aurora in the province of Aurora. But to my surprise and delight, these women were preparing a native delicacy, suman, rice cakes wrapped longitudinally with steamed young coconut leaves.

Suman is an ubiquitous native delicacy that is found in almost all provinces in the Philippines, and perhaps, in other Asian countries as well. Most of these are sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, sometimes sweetened, sometimes not. These are then wrapped in blanched banana leaves, rolled longitudinally and folded or tied at both ends. But in other localities, like this one and another one in Taluksangay, Zamboanga City, it uses young coconut leaves for the wrapping.

In between chatting, the women are busy preparing the suman from scratch to finished product which they then sell at P60 per bunch. For the first timer, unwrapping the suman is an experience in itself, loosening the tie that wraps around the body, removing the leaf handle then unwrapping the rice cake. A bite into the slightly sweetened sticky rice is something to enjoy. For us locals, it usually reminds us of home, of family and traditions.

Sticky purple rice is being prepared.
Sticky purple rice is being prepared.
It's a communal activity with women helping out in making the suman and stories flow
It’s a communal activity with women helping out in making the suman and stories flow
Young coconut leaves prepared to be receptacles
Young coconut leaves prepared to be receptacles
Prepared young coconut leaves bunched up together
Prepared young coconut leaves bunched up together
Sticky purple rice that has already been slightly sweetened and cooked in coconut milk already in the leaf receptacles
Sticky purple rice that has already been slightly sweetened and cooked in coconut milk already in the leaf receptacles
preparing the suman for double wrapping
preparing the suman for double wrapping
A woman rolls the filled leaves, cover it with another leaf and ties it together
A woman rolls the filled leaves, cover it with another leaf and ties it together
Filled up leaves ready for the steaming
Filled up leaves ready for the steaming

This trip to Aurora province made possible by Costa Pacifica. Check them out at their website, in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I help businesses get qualified leads and more sales via FB Ads and Messenger Chatbots. I'm also a photographer, blogger and writer based in Cebu, the Philippines.

A true blue Cebuano, I make stunning images and meaningful stories. My work has been published in various coffee table books as well as local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and has frequently done photo assignments for Mabuhay, an inflight magazine.

My personal Photography work has been exhibited around Asia and Europe including Paris in France, Germany, The Netherlands, South Korea, China and around the ASEAN regional capitals.

I am a peripatetic traveler and have been to all 81 Philippine provinces and abroad.

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