The Antipolo Cathedral, home of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage (Nuestra Senora de la paz Y Buenviaje), is still a popular destination although the numerous resorts are attracting more local tourists these days. We’re an hour or two hour from the city, near enough for weekend trips but because this town sits on a series of hills, it is still different enough in ambience from the concrete jungle. We’re like a convenient respite for weary city folk.
These local tourists often bring home one or more of three delicacies that Antipolo is known for: roasted cashew nuts, fresh mangoes (when in season) and suman. The cashew nuts and mangoes are not local produce (they come from neighboring provinces) but most of the suman sold on roadside stalls are products of small home-based businesses. That’s why day-old suman is rare. They are almost always freshly made — often, still warm when offered to customers.
For the uninitiated, suman is rice cake in tube form. Wrapped in leaves and steamed or boiled (often, in coconut milk), suman is an inexpensive, nostalgic and satisfying snack. There are many kinds of suman but the one that is ubiquitous in Antipolo is the suman sa ibos.
When the suman is new and still very soft, it is best to simply unwrap it and dip in sugar. When the suman is a day old and a bit drier, I like to fry it to kind of make the dryness work in its favor. See, if you fry suman that is still very soft, it will just disintegrate in the pan. And because of the amount of moisture it contains, the hot oil will spatter all over. Ouch! But fry a day-old or even a two-day old suman and it retains its shape as it acquires a wonderful new color and texture. And because it has less moisture, there is less oil spatter too.
Earlier today, I fried four pieces of suman for Speedy and myself, and I served them with a mixture of sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. If you’re still not convinced at how a little spice can spice up your life, try this simple cinnamon-nutmeg-sugar mixture. Definitely adds oooomph!
Of course, the sugar mixture is just the icing on the cake, so to speak. The real star is the suman. When fried… just look at it. The outside gets puffed and crisp in the hot oil…
But, inside, it is moist and chewy. The steam created during frying rehydrates the rice and brings back some of the lost natural moisture.
Fried suman with cinnamon-nutmeg sugar
- Unwrap the suman.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick cooking pan.
- Fry the suman over high heat, rolling them often for even browning, until browned and puffed. Drain on paper towels.
- Stir together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the fried suman.