My grandmother used to buy biko whenever she went to the market. As soon as she arrived, she would call me and my brother and we would have biko for our mid-morning merienda. That was decades ago. When I became a mommy, I introduced my daughters to biko and we have a lot of fond memories associated with it. Probably the most memorable is how my daughter lost her first baby tooth while eating biko when the loose tooth got stuck in the sticky rice cake. Fortunately, she felt it before swallowing.
But what is biko? It is a cake made from glutinous rice cooked in sweetened coconut milk and topped with latik (curdled coconut cream). I was surprised to find a description of biko in another site as a rice cake with caramel topping so when I went to the market earlier today, I asked the hawkers the proper names for the different rice cakes on display. The consensus? What I’ve known from childhood as biko is indeed called biko and the one topped with caramelized sugar and coconut cream is called bibingkang malagkit. I must concede though that biko might be called by some other name in non-Tagalog speaking regions of the Philippines.
The good news, however, is that I am experimenting on how to make biko. It cannot be as simple as cooking glutinous rice and sugar in coconut milk. I’ve done that and the individual rice grains were cloudy instead of clear. I’m thinking that, perhaps, the rice is soaked then steamed after adding coconut oil. We’ll see how future experiments turn out.