First a shout out to an IG friend @3poodlefarm! I’ve been enjoying her posts on Instagram about her three poodles and fostering from @saveanimalshelter. Our nostalgia and chats about Filipino fruits and desserts led me to feature Ginataang Bilo-bilo.
What is Ginataang Bilo bilo? (Ghee-na-ta-ang Bee-lo bee-lo) – The direct translation of Ginataang Bilo bilo is Rice balls in Coconut milk. The word Ginata refers to anything that’s mixed with coconut milk.
Ingredients to use in the USA: I live in a small city and tropical fruit ingredients are hard to find. I’ll be listing ingredient substitutes since Saba/Cardaba Bananas (Philippine variety) and Ube/Purple Yam are not common grocery items in the US. The good thing about this recipe is each ingredient, except for the rice balls, can be optional.
What is in Ginataang Bilo bilo?
- Bananas – Plantains or Saba/Cardaba (Philippine Variety)
- Sweet Potato – use purple yam if available
- Sago – use tapioca balls if sago is not available or this ingredient can be optional
- Rice balls or Bilo bilo – rice flour and water dough rolled into balls
- Jackfruit – a sweet tropical fruit that has a caramel-y flavor. Hard to find fresh but available canned
- Coconut Milk
How to make sure Rice balls/Bilo bilo stay intact: Drop the bilo bilo/rice ball gently in the low simmering coconut milk. Don’t mix! Let the rice ball cook for about 1 minute. This allows the rice ball to form and set which prevents it from breaking apart.
Colored Bilo bilo/Rice Balls? Flavored Bilo bilo/Rice Balls? Add color gradually when adding ingredients together. I attempted to add Ube flavoring to the rice balls but it didn’t work. However, the good result was a purple colored rice ball that went well with the other colors of the ingredients, including the white rice balls.
Try to cut, slice, and shape the ingredients exactly the same size. This allows the ingredients to cook evenly. It also makes the the dish attractive. Growing up in the Philippines, I’ve had Ginataang Bilo bilo with piping hot large pieces of purple yam/sweet potatoes and gloopy masses of jackfruit. It was not a pleasant.
Want other sweet Guinataan or Coconut Milk Dessert recipes? Try Guinataang Mais by Panlasang Pinoy
Do you miss Ube Cake but don’t know how to bake from scratch? Try this recipe: Easy Ube Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Icing
Ginataang Bilo bilo - Coconut Milk Dessert
Ingredients for Rice Balls:
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/4 cup water *add gradually
- Ingredients for Ginataang Bilobilo
- 1 can Coconut Milk 13.5 oz
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 Medium sized sweet potato cubed small
- Bilo bilo or Rice Balls about 15 pieces
- 1 ripe but firm Plantain sliced 1/2 inch
- 2 cups cooked mini sago pearls
- 2 cups BIlo bilo/Rice balls
- Sugar according to taste
Instructions for Bilo bilo/Rice Balls:
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl
- Knead and add more rice flour or water if needed
- Dough should form a ball and not stick to the side of the bowl
- Roll into small balls (about 1/2 inch diameter)
Instructions for Guinataang Bilo bilo
- Mix coconut milk and water in a pot
- Bring to a low simmer
- Add sweet potato and cook for 10 mins
- Gently add rice balls one at a time, do not mix!
- Let rice balls cook for about 30 secs to 1 minute
- Add plantains
- Cover and simmer (low) for 10 minutes
- Uncover and add sago
- Mix gently
- Add sugar according to taste
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