Suman Sa Ibos

This is a rice stick everyone in the Philippines knows. Filipinos like eating this with ripe mangoes, specifically, Philippine mangoes and none of the “manila” mangoes sold in the US. As every Filipino who has traveled outside the country will tell you – nothing beats Philippine mangoes for flavor and texture. And this Suman sa Ibos is perfect with our mangoes. This is salty and not sweet at all, a good contrast to a sweet mango.


The Thais also eat their mangoes with a sticky rice dish that is similar to Suman sa Ibos. But they don’t make it into rice sticks like we do.

When I was thinking of a recipe for the Lasang Pinoy 20th Edition which is about wrapped foods or Binalot, I thought of this suman immediately.

Our yaya or nanny (every family had one in those days in the Philippines) whom we called “Nana” taught me how to do the wrap when I was just a little girl of about 8 or 9 years old. I kept pestering her when they were making a huge batch of suman with my grandmother supervising everything. To keep me out of her way, she showed me how to wrap the suman and made me practise without the filling of rice and coconut cream. The first photograph here is the first one I’ve done in years. This is empty though, just a test suman.

The wrapper is young coconut leaves that haven’t completely opened and turned green even. I had my trusty laundrywoman source the leaves for me and she came with a whole bunch of leaves already cut from the long stem it comes out of. I looked at it sitting in the counter of the dirty kitchen and thought to myself, “What in the world am I going to do with all of that?!”

After my ordeal…excuse me…my interesting experience of making the real thing, I realized just how difficult it is. Like the muruecos I did earlier, I’d rather buy this from now on…confident that I gave it a try once and succeeded. Well, partially anyway. It was edible but it was too skinny! And it will probably take a thousand more sumans to make it perfectly plump the way I remember the ones Nana made. I’m not in the suman business so I’m happy.

Here are more photos of the actual rice sticks I made with REAL filling. It’s a simple mix of 1 c. sticky rice, 1 c. pure coconut cream and a tablespoon of rock salt.

There they are – all 5 of them.  Yes, just FIVE.  I didn’t have the heart to ruin it all by making skinny ones like these.  For a first attemp, they were okay, don’t you think?  You might be wondering what happened to all that rice.  Well, with some sugar added, I turned it into a lazy person’s rice cake called biko.  Hahahha!

Anyway, I boiled all five of them in the second extraction of coconut mixed with about 3 cups of water. It took me a full 2 hours before I was sure they were done. Then I noticed they didn’t plump up like I was hoping they would so I didn’t bother to take a photo and carted all of them to Youngest Sister who said they were perfectly done and the grains I used were first-rate, but she did note how skinny they were and how she wished there was more.

On that note, I shall end my pathetic suman story.

7 Replies to “Suman Sa Ibos”

  1. Hey, that’s not pathetic at all. In fact, saludo nga ako sa iyo at nagpakahirap ka pang gumawa eh. But like I said earlier, bibili na lang siguro ako…tamad kasi eh! Hahaha. 😀

  2. Hey, that’s not pathetic at all. In fact, saludo nga ako sa iyo at nagpakahirap ka pang gumawa eh. But like I said earlier, bibili na lang siguro ako…tamad kasi eh! Hahaha. 😀

  3. ladybug, thank you naman…ang hirap nga hindi na siguro mauulit but honestly…challenged talaga ko to make another batch – of more than 5 maybe?

    Celia, try it try it…you can use banana leaves naman. can you get that frozen in the UK like in the States?

  4. I have lots of memories with my grandmother and suman sa ibos. A day before the town fiesta, all of us her grandchildren would gather and make the ibos shells from young coconut leaves. We wrap it differently though. Sort of wrap the leaves around itself. In the afternoon we put the glutinous rice inside. We surround this big batya of coconut milk and rice then scoop it to fill each shell. My grandmother supervises us as we do this. Rather watch me that I don’t cheat and make the biggest suman sa ibos I can make!

  5. Hi. I found some frozen suman sa ibos in an Asian supermarket here in the US. I thought it was the sweet variety but I guess I got the wrong one. What do I do with it? Do I cook it first or is it ready to eat? How do I cook it? Thanks!

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