Suman sa Lihiya or also known as suman bulagta can be tedious to make but not anymore. I agree making suman, the Filipino sticky rice logs can take long to cook. But that changed when I used my Instant Pot to make this favorite Philippine snack.
The mango season reminded me how we enjoyed suman during our childhood. The afternoon snack or merienda at our home in the Philippines was heartwarming when my mom had a platter of the rice logs wrapped in coconut or banana leaves ready for us. It was often an after-school snack. The simple, homespun flavor of the thick rice log was paired with fresh, ripe sweet mangoes from our farm. Mom had a choice of toppings for suman: Latik (fried coconut sprinkles) mixed with sugar or freshly-grated coconut or both. My favorite was a thick, coconut syrup. It was caramel-colored and had a divine aroma of cooked coconut. I never thought it took mom hours to make the suman.
So, when I was yearning for this old-fashioned merienda in my American kitchen, I tried different ways to cook suman – the classic, stove-top way, and in the kitchen appliance, the Instant Pot. I wrote Instant Filipino Recipes, a cookbook of traditional Pinoy food cooked in the Instant Pot last fall and one of the dessert recipes is Suman sa Ibus – you will enjoy making that if you buy my cookbook. Anyway, I figured mango season and the long holiday weekend was a good reason to make Suman sa Lihiya. The logs cooked in half the time in the Instant Pot. We were able to enjoy it right away. The decadent coconut syrup topping was a dream. It glided magically on the hearty rice logs reminding us of marvelous meriendas from our childhood, but this time, cooked and enjoyed way faster.
Suman sa Lihiya- Sticky Rice Logs with Coconut- Instant Pot + Stove-top
- Instant Pot or any brand of multi-cooker, steamer basket and trivet for Instant Pot, tongs
- silicone mitts for the Instant Pot
- 1 cup sweet or sticky rice (malagkit)
- 1 cup white jasmine rice grains
- 3 cups water for soaking rice
- 2 cups water to cook rice
- 2 teaspoons lihiya (lye water)
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
For coconut syrup topping
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup coconut cream canned or fresh
- 1/2 cup bottled coconut jam
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For wrapping the suman
- 12 to 14 pieces fresh or frozen banana leaves each cut in 8 x 12 inch pieces, washed, pat dry with towel
To make the Instant Pot Suman sa Lihiya - Sticky Rice Logs
- In a bowl, combine the two types of rice grains: sticky rice (malagkit) and the whole grain white rice. Rinse the rice in water twice. Return the rice in the bowl. Pour water enough to cover the rice grains. Cover and keep rice soaked. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- After one hour, drain the rice and discard the water. Mix the rice grains with the lihiya (water). Rice grains and water will turn to a pale yellow.Place the rice mixture in the inside pot of the Instant Pot. Pour two cups of water. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press RICE function and cook on Low Pressure for 12 minutes.When buzzer sounds, do a Quick Release. When the float pin drops, it is safe to unlock the lid carefully.Fluff the cooked rice with a fork. Add the half a cup of coconut cream and brown sugar. Mix and blend well to incorporate ingredients. Transfer cooked rice mixture to a large bowl.Use silicone mitts to remove the inside pot. When it has cooled down in a few minutes, wash the inside pot and prepare for steaming the logs.
- Take a banana leaf and lay it out on a flat, dry surface of the counter. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of the rice mixture in the center of the banana leaf.To wrap the suman: Roll the rice log like a burrito. Using both hands roll the log away from you, inserting the left and right sides inwards and tucking them tightly inside the log.Tie the suman log with butcher's twine. Repeat the process for all the logs. You should have about 12 pieces measuring 6 inches in length x 2 inches wide.
- Place the metal trivet in the inside pot. Place the metal or silicone steamer basket that fits in the inside pot on top of the trivet. Nestle the wrapped suman next to each other inside the steamer basket.Pour enough water in the inside pot to reach the bottom of the steamer basket (about 6 to 7 cups).
- Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Manual and cook Suman on High Pressure for 10 minutes.When buzzer sounds, do a Quick Release. When the float pin drops, it is safe to unlock the lid. Open the lid carefully. Use metal tongs and silicone mitts to remove the cooked Suman from the inside pot. Be careful not to burn your fingers on the sides of the Instant Pot.
- Cool the suman on the counter. Serve warm or chilled with the coconut topping and fresh, ripe mangoes on the side.
To make the Instant Pot Coconut Syrup topping:
- Using silicone mitts, hold the inside pot and discard the water used for steaming.Return the inside pot to the Instant Pot.Click Saute on keypad. In the inside pot, combine the sugar, butter and coconut cream. Mix well. When inside pot heats up in 1 to 2 minutes, stir the mixture. Cook the syrup for 3 to 4 minutes as it starts to thicken.Pour the bottled coconut jam and salt. Blend ingredients well. Continue stirring a few times. The liquid will thicken in about 4 minutes. Click Cancel to turn off Saute function. You should have about 1 cup of syrup. Transfer coconut syrup to a gravy container. Serve with the Suman sa Lihiya.
To cook on the stove-top
- In a bowl, combine the two varieties of rice. Wash twice. Soak rice in water for at least an hour.*Cook rice and 2 cups water plus the lihiya (lye) in a rice cooker. The rice cooker cooks automatically.When rice is cooked, mix in the 1/2 cup coconut cream and brown sugar. Blend well.Cool cooked rice for a few minutes on the counter. When rice is cool enough to handle, place 2-3 tablespoons of rice in each banana leaf. Wrap according to directions in procedure above.Use a steamer to cook the suman. Fill the bottom pot with enough water for cooking (about 3/4 full).Boil the water at high heat. Place the steamer layer with holes on top of the briskly boiling water. Fill the steamer with wrapped suman, side by side next to each other. Cover the steamer.Steam and cook the suman for 25 minutes. When cooked, remove the suman logs with tongs and cool on a platter. Serve with the coconut syrup as topping.To cook the Coconut syrup on the stove: In a small stockpot, combine the sugar, butter and remaining 1/2 cup coconut cream. Mix well. Over medium heat, stir and cook for 5 minutes till thick. Add the coconut jam and salt. Continue stirring and cooking for 7 to 8 minutes more till mixture is thicker. Remove from heat and serve with suman.
- I used a 6-quart Instant Pot for this recipe. These Suman sa Lihiya rice logs and coconut syrup must be kept refrigerated at all times. It will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. When serving, heat in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes if desired.
- Lihiya or lye water is sodium hydroxide, an alkaline substance used in cooking to give a sticky texture and darker color to food. This can be found in Asian markets or online.The bottled coconut jam used in this recipe can be purchased at Asian markets or online sources.
Safety Precautions for the Instant Pot
- Set the Instant Pot, a counter-top kitchen appliance on a clean, dry surface of the counter. Do not place the Instant Pot, its cover or accessories on top of stove burners at any time.Use accessories recommended for the Instant Pot like silicone or metal which can be purchased at department stores or online. Do not use glassware in the Instant Pot or similar multi-cookers or pressure cookers. Consult the product manual for complete safety precautions.
Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. Buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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Disclosure: Instant Pot is the brand name of a multi-cooker that cooks in high and low pressure. I was not paid by the Instant Pot company to mention the product or brand nor endorse it. This is not an ad. My views and opinions are my own.