Cuisine - Desserts, Cuisine - Filipino, Recipes

Recipe: Biko (Filipino Sticky Rice Dessert)

My all-time favorite Filipino dessert dish is Biko – a sticky rice dessert that is sweetened using coconut milk and coconut cream with a hint of orange. As a kid, it was one of those treats that I only ate when my parents took me to gatherings at Filipino parties. For nearly 10 years I have been searching for a recipe that I could make on my own so I could have this treat any time I desired. Finally, I found a suitable recipe that satiated my need.

Filipino Biko Sticky Rice DessertA few weeks ago I came across a recipe at for sticky rice. It calls for only four ingredients. This dish, while it does take some time since you have to make sure the rice and coconut mixture doesn’t burn while on the stove, is well worth it. It’s also quite similar to a recipe that I learned about five years ago.

While working on a documentary about Filipino food for Emerson (yes, a documentary that is still yet to be completed – although that is a completely different story), I interviewed a Filipino-American family in Milwaukee. Mom, was born in the Philippines, but her husband is from the U.S. and met his wife while working as a missionary. They have three children. Mom’s mother, “Nana,” now also lives in the U.S. The family uses food to tell the children about their rich Filipino heritage since the children have yet to visit their mother’s homeland. I was lucky enough to be welcomed into this gracious family’s home and learn some of their recipes from the Visayas region of the Philippine Islands.

One of the dishes that Nana showed me how to make was Biko. Even though she didn’t speak much English, food is a universal language. It was easy to understand what she was trying to say about the ingredients and what to do. Her recipe for sticky rice was quite similar to this recipe that I just found. When I recently found this online recipe, it reminded me of the time I spent with this family and how much we pass along to future generations through food.

Food is a natural story-telling element. Each family has their own ways of producing recipes and traditions. For instance, in an Italian family, no red sauce is probably the same. Some say you need “x” amount of this ingredient, while others would say that it’s a no-no. Because of those traditions, it gives each family their uniqueness, and it stems deep into that part of our memory that takes us to a place that recalls a simpler time.

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