Suman (rice cake in a tube) in three flavors

Suman (rice cake in a tube) in three flavors

To say that the English translation for suman is rice cake is a bit confusing since the term “rice cake” encompasses more than suman. When cooked in a tray or dish, rice cake is called bibingka, kakanin or kalamay. If cooked to achieve a bread-like texture, it is called puto. But, the thing is, a traditional Christmas fare, a pancake-like rice delicacy topped with slices of salted eggs and white cheese, is also known as bibingka. And while it is almost exactly accurate to say that suman, in its most common meaning, is rice cake in tube form, another traditional Christmas fare known as puto-bumbong is also a rice cake in tube form but not really categorized as suman.

Confused? For purposes of this entry, let’s take suman in its most widely accepted definition — rice cake in tube form.

There are so many varieties of suman in the Philippines, some associated with particular regions. Most are wrapped in either coconut fronds or wilted banana leaves. If using uncooked rice, often soaked for several hours in water, the suman is cooked submerged in water or coconut milk. If using cooked rice, the wrapped suman is steamed.

Even the accompaniment for suman varies. The most common is a mixture of grated fresh coconut and sugar. Some suman varieties are served with a dipping sauce of coconut jam or chocolate.

My suman recipe uses glutinous (sticky) rice that has been cooked in coconut milk. The cooled rice is double wrapped in wilted banana leaves then steamed for about 45 minutes. The plain and most basic recipe is given below, followed by instructions on how to make the chocolate-flavored suman and suman with chopped fruits that you see in the background of the photo above.


  • 1 c. of glutinous (sticky) rice, soaked in cold water for at least six hours
    1 c. of coconut milk, fresh (see how to extract coconut milk) or canned
    a generous pinch of salt
    banana leaves


  1. Strain the rice. Cook in coconut milk with salt. I used a rice cooker and it did the job wonderfully. Cool the rice.Meanwhile, prepare the banana leaves.

    Rinse the banana leaves. Wipe dry. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

    Pass every part of the leaves over an open flame to soften and wilt. Unless you do this, the banana leaves will break when you wrap the rice with it.

    Cut the banana leaves so that you have 8 to 10 pieces that are about 8″x8″ square and another set of 8 to 10 pieces that are about 12″x12″ square. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

    Place an 8″x8″ piece of banana leaf on top of a 12″x12″ piece. Place two to three tablespoonfuls of cooked rice at the center. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

    Wrap the rice with the smaller piece of banana leaf, as tightly as you can, and folding the sides neatly. Use the larger piece of banana leaf to wrap the parcel. The double wrapping seals the rice well and serves as an insurance that in case the first wrapping tears, there is another layer to protect the precious rice inside.

    Repeat until all the rice has been wrapped. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

    Stack the parcels, seam side down, in a steamer basket. Steam over boiling water for about 45 minutes. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

    Cool the suman for about 15 minutes before unwrapping to give it a chance to firm up. Top with grated fresh coconut and sugar, and enjoy!

Quick Notes

Some variations:

To make suman with chocolate, follow the basic suman recipe above. Prepare the banana leaves. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

Place about two tablespoonfuls of the cooked rice on a piece of banana leaf, add chopped chocolate (I used dark chocolate), wrap and steam following the same procedure for the basic suman recipe. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

The chocolate melts during steaming and the result is a reddish-brown rice with dark spots of chocolate. Delicious!

If you’re not a chocoholic like me, you can add chopped fruits. I wanted to add fresh mangoes to my suman, but it isn’t mango season, so I had to content myself with chopped canned peaches. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

It’s the same procedure but, instead of chocolate, you add chopped fruits. Suman: rice cake in a tube. In three flavors.

And you have fruity suman! Speedy likes the suman with peaches more than the ones with chocolate. I like all of them — including the plain suman. They’re great for breakfast or anytime of the day snack.

Cooking time (duration):2 hours total

Number of servings (yield): 8 pieces

Meal type: snack

This suman recipe is part of Kulinarya‘s October celebration of Filipino food.

The Kulinarya gang: Kath, Trisha, Trissa, Olive, Caroline, Ninette, Peach, Althea, Asha, Malou, Cherrie, Acdee, Valerie, Sheryl, Divina, Anna, Dahlia, Joy, Maribel, Tressa, Jen, Pia, Malaka, Mimi, Erika, Kat, Lala, Selfie, Oggi, Katrina, Rochelle and Marica


  1. arlene says

    Dear Connie, I am an avid reader of your blog and have tried various recipes already. Thank you for generously sharing your ideas with us!
    as i am out of the philippines and banana leaves are not easy to get, what would be a good alternative for wrapping the suman?

    • says

      Hi Ms. Connie,

      Just wanted to let you know that I tried the chocolate suman- and it was heavenly!!! I’ll try to use langka and/or a halo-halo mixture next time. I’m even looking into trying out a savory version, similar to lo mai gai :)

      Thanks for sharing your recipes!

  2. Leah says

    Hi Connie,

    I was wondering if there was an exact measurement for the water needed for soaking the rice in.

    Kind regards,

    P.S. I love your website. I have tried several of your recipes and they were all a success.

    • Ryan says

      Among the many varieties/mutations of the rice cake, I love Tacloban’s version called “Moron”. Fine grounded rice mixed with coconut milk and tableya choco as flavoring rolled and wrapped inside a banana leaf. Very delicious especially when served cold.

  3. niceyfemme says

    Ooh! I’ve been experimenting with suman and failed TWICE. I’m glad you have a recipe and I’d try this soon. Thanks! :)

    Please say hi to Speedy, please tell him it’s from his fan ahhaha… I love the peach roses btw… so sweet of him!

  4. Marie says

    Hi Connie,

    This looks good. I’ve always wanted to try making suman. I was just wondering about the soaking part. It says to soak in cold water for six hours. So do I keep it in the fridge to keep the water cold?

  5. says

    thanks for sharing this! this is probably the clearest recipe out there that suits my needs. I’m gonna try this maybe next weekend. So, just one question: some sumans are already sweet. is that because they add sugar in the rice or is it because it is sweetened by the coconut milk? thanks, Connie! have a good weekend!

  6. beth m. says

    Dear Ms. Connie, it’s 9 am here in Southern California, i’m looking at these pictures and I am suddenly transported back in time to the endless days of summer back in the Philippines. Your posts do not simply fill our gastronomic needs, but fills in our longing for our native Philippines. There really is no place like home. Thank you!

      • B Hayzor says

        I have been making some traditional dishes for my Filipino girlfriend and this weekend I will be attempting suman in a few different ways. In addition to plain, I was planning to try one with brown sugar, one with vanilla, and one with mashed bananas. I don’t want to overpower the flavor but add something different. Has anyone ever tried these?

  7. Hazel Vargas says

    I have been googling to find the term used by my late mother (a Bicolana from Pasacao, then Naga) for the sweet coconut curd. I only see it referred to as Latik. But when I was growing up, latik was the milky curd after boiling coconut cream until it reaches that consistency and we use that to top binutong or suman sa latik (wrapped in banana leaf with latik). The word I’m looking for is the product that results from further boiling the latik until it becomes brown bits. We use this to top whatever dessert or eat it plain — they’re delicious. What is this called? I cannot remember the name for it and it is not latik. I would be very grateful for any feedback from you or your audience.

  8. Natz SM says

    Hello Ms. Connie,

    This entry brings back memories of my (chocolate) suman making some 25 years ago which I would make every christmas. I divided the cooked rice mixture in two parts and flavored one part with ricoa powdered chocolate and even added nuts. I then intertwined the plain and chocolate rice pilipit style. Another version would be to make a thinner tube with the chocolate and encase this with the regular suman.
    IT WAS SO LABOROUS that I eventually just gave up!

    Simply adding chocolate chips is a fabulous idea and I am sure that the taste of the chocolate would be really intensely delicious compared to what I was making. This might just inspire me to make chocolate suman again this christmas.

    Regarding the PEACH variant: Suman generally keeps well. Would you know if the addition of peaches will affect the sumans shelf life. This would be so delicious with a splash of warm (or even chilled) cream!!!

  9. says

    Mmmmm, sarap naman ng Suman. I miss those and whats worse we they dont have banana leaves here in New Zealand nor import them. All I have to do is drool over those photos of yours. Any idea of replacement that I can use instead of banana leaves?

  10. Connie says

    Laborious — yes! Even more so because I had to take photos. :-P

    Re shelf life. Ah, I have no idea, sorry. Things like suman, I’d rather cook just enough for a day’s consumption.

  11. says

    Oooh I love suman! My lola always makes suman for me when she comes here. :) I especially love it with latik.

    wow i haven’t tried to one with chocolate or mangoes :) hmm im tempted to go to the grocery now to buy ingredients :D thanks for this great post! now i can have suman even if my lola’s not around

  12. says

    yummy. i love suman esp. lihiya and those sweet ones dipped in sugar :D

    i also loved flavored ones.. like the one sold in BudBud Kabog (in Bazaars) and Tita Lyn’s Suman :) love the mango and ube flavors. my sis raves for choco!!

  13. says

    Suman with chocolate – you are a lady after my heart! The combination reminds me of one of my favourite breakfast dishes – champorado! The mango sounds yummy as well!

  14. emyM says

    My name is Emy Medina,probably the oldest fan of Connie/Sassy Lawyer.
    We’re planning to have a meeting/eating/
    gathering of Connies’ fan and followers
    next year–January 15,2011.I live with
    my family in Los Angeles but plan on taking a short vacation in Jan.
    If you’re interested in joining us,please e-mail me at appreciate
    your suggestions and input.Please
    spread the word.I promise this will
    be fun for everyone.
    Looking forward for your response
    and your presence next year.
    Can anyone post this in the Food Community?
    Emy Medina

  15. says

    Hi Connie!

    I love all three suman, I’ll try adding mango and chocolates too next time but I’m not gonna wrap them anymore, I didn’t like that part of making suman hehe, I’ll do the “hubad” version next time haha :D.. Welcome to KCC..glad you joined us :)

  16. lemon says

    I am a probinsyana, but sadly, I never learned how to try making ibos (Bicol term for suman in a tube). I’ve always been daunted by the idea of cooking this. Now that I see that it is simple enough to make, I will try and make use of the big bottle of macapuno I bought from Laguna weeks ago.

    Tita lynn’s suman is so good, but expensive at P25 each, might as well make my own. Thanks Ms. Connie and Happy Birthday!

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