Ginataang Bilo-bilo or tambo-tambong is a Filipino dessert made with glutinous rice flour shaped into little balls, saba or plantain, jackfruit, sweet potatoes, and tapioca pearls simmer in coconut milk or coconut cream. Savor the layers of flavors and textures in each spoonful of this creamy dessert or enjoy it for a snack.
Coconut milk, a staple in Filipino cooking, forms the velvety base of this dessert, creating a luscious canvas for the other components. You can also use coconut milk for savory dishes such as my Pork Bicol Express, Gising-gising, and Ginataang Gulay.
This recipe is very similar to my Ginataang Halo-halo in the ingredients and methods of cooking.
- Glutinous rice flour - To make the rice balls. Ginataang Bilo-bilo lies in its namesake - the glutinous rice balls. It requires a simple blend of glutinous rice flour and water. Then it transforms into a sticky and moist consistency, exhibiting a sweet and nutty flavor profile. You can add food coloring such as ube extract to introduce a visual feast.
- Coconut milk - This dessert is cooked in full-fat coconut milk. You can also use coconut cream to make it extra rich and creamy. When using coconut cream, add 2 cups of water to this recipe.
- Tropical fruits - The dessert's charm extends beyond the rice balls to a medley of tropical fruits that contribute layers of flavor and texture.
- Sweet potatoes (kamote)- It has a sweet and starchy texture. You can substitute sweet potatoes with other tubers such as taro, ube, or tapioca.
- Saba bananas - Another sweet and starchy tropical fruit. You should use ripe bananas for better flavor which is sweet and tender. If you can't find native Filipino bananas, you can use ripe plantain or cardaba (cooking banana).
- Jackfruit (langka)- Use ripe with golden yellow color jackfruit if you are using fresh. Or, you can use minatamis na langka instead of fresh or canned.
- Tapioca Pearls (sago): You can use mini or regular sizes. These add a delightful chewiness to the dessert. These translucent beads, cooked to perfection, provide a contrast to the creamy coconut milk.
- Other ingredients: To make this dessert colorful and vibrant, you can use food coloring to the dough. You can also add young coconut for more flavor and added texture.
1. Make the (Glutinous Rice Balls) and cook tapioca pearls:
- Cook tapioca pearls (sago) according to package instructions. Once it is cooked, drain the water and rinse with cold water. Set them aside.
- In a bowl, combine 1 cup of glutinous rice flour with ½ cup of hot water until it forms a dough. Hot water will help the dough to be smooth and slightly tender.
- If the dough is too runny, add a bit of rice flour, if it is too crumbly, add some water.
- Add your favorite food coloring if you desire such as ube extract and mix.
- Take a small portion of the dough and roll it into small balls (about ½ - 1 teaspoon).
- Cover with a damp paper towel and set aside the glutinous rice balls.
2. Prepare the remaining ingredients:
- Peel and cube sweet potatoes.
- Peel and slice ripe plantains (saba bananas) in a half-moon shape.
- Slice jackfruit into small, bite-sized pieces.
3. Cooking the Ginataang Bilo-bilo (tambo-tambong):
- In a pot over low-medium heat, combine coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent the coconut milk from curdling.
- Once the coconut milk is simmering, add the diced sweet potatoes. Cook until the sweet potatoes are slightly tender.
- Add the ripe plantain, jackfruit, and tapioca pearls to the pot. Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Gently drop the prepared glutinous rice balls into the pot. Cook until they float to the surface, which indicates they are cooked.
- Continue cooking until all the ingredients are tender and the flavors are well combined. Adjust the sweetness according to your taste by adding more sugar if needed.
- Cook the tapioca pearls ahead of time as this could take a little longer. You can also use a pre-cook from the market to save you more time.
- Cut the sweet potatoes and plantain in a uniform size to cook evenly. Shape the glutinous rice flour in the same round sizes.
- Stir the pot gently to avoid breaking the glutinous rice balls or mashing the other ingredients. This will ensure that the flavors meld together without compromising the texture of the individual components.
- If the mixture is too thick, you can adjust by adding a bit of water. If it's too thin, you can let it simmer a bit longer to reduce and thicken.
- Store your leftovers in a container with a lid in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This dessert and merienda is eaten cold or warm. To reheat, add it to a saucepan with a bit of water if it's too thick. Stir and reheat until warm thoroughly.
Why You Should Make This
- Creamy, tasty, and comforting dessert.
- It is a filling and satisfying merienda or snack. The flavor is perfectly sweet and not too sweet. You can adjust it according to your preference.
- This sticky rice flour sweet dessert is easy and simple to make.
- If you want more recipes like this, check out banana turon, ube halaya, and strawberry–lychee sago dessert.
Your Questions and the Answers
Ginataang bilo-bilo is a Filipino dessert and snack. Ginataan means "with coconut milk" while bilo-bilo comes from the word "bilog" which means rounds and bilo-bilo means rice balls.
This decadent comfort dessert originated in the Ilocos Region in Luzon. In Ilocos, there are a few provinces that call this dish tambo-tambong.
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Ginataang Bilo-bilo (Tambo-tambong)
- 1 cup glutinous rice flour dissolve with ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon ube extract
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups sweet potatoes
- 1 large ripe plantain
- 5 cups full-fat coconut milk
- 1 cup tapioca pearls cooked
- 1 cup jackfruit or minatamis na langka
- In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of glutinous rice with ½ cup of hot water until it forms a dough. Add a food ube extract if desired and mix it in. Take a small portion of the dough and roll it into a tiny ball, about 1 teaspoon. Repeat the process and set them aside.
- Cook the tapioca pearls according to the package instructions. Drain the liquid and rinse with running water. Set them aside.
- Peel and cube the sweet potatoes, slice ripe plantain or saba in a half-moon shape, remove the thick skin, seeds, and cut the jackfruit into small pieces or use minatamis na langka.
- In a pot, pour the coconut milk, and add the sugar and salt. Stir and simmer over low-medium heat for a few minutes.
- Add your diced sweet potatoes and cook until they are slightly tender.
- Add the ripe plantain, cooked tapioca pearls, and jackfruit. Stir and cook for about 3-5 minutes.
- Gently add the prepared glutinous balls to the pan. Cook until they float to the surface, which indicates they are cooked.
- Continue to cook for a few more minutes or until all the ingredients are tender and the flavors are well combined. Serve and enjoy!