My love for Filipino cuisine started many years ago. I was first introduced to some favorites like Lumpia from a cute Filipino friend I made in culinary school. I was 17 years old, and she was like my little mommy, sharing her homemade lunches with me and educating me on the flavors of the Philippines. I am forever grateful that she took the time to be a good friend and share her culture with me through food.
In the Philippines, locals love a good easy snack. If that snack happens to be versatile from, savory to sweet, well even better. The Kutsinta meets that demand. These orange colored steamed rice cakes are tasty snacks or treat topped with shaved coconut. Unlike Puto, which is a starchy cake that is very common in the Philippines, Kutsinta is like a sweet, chewy, jelly of rice and wheat flours. It may look like candied sweet yams at first glance. That is a good color to aim for when making these Kutsinta. Some versions of Kutsinta have an addition of Latik or coconut curds in the batter. It will also add a different texture to the rice cakes which some people love. My version below is the simplest way to have your Kutsinta prepared.
Cultural snacks fascinate me as a chef. Snacks are what people are eating every day, found in a wide variety of classes and households, sold on the streets, or made by your favorite adopted grandmother down the street. Everyone snacks. You can eat Kutsinta all year round in the Philippines.
Be Creative and Versatile
I would serve Kutsinta as just that, a sweet snack. It would also be great with a spread of sweets like Yema Cake and Kunafa. You can also serve the Kutsinta like Puto, alongside Dinuguan and Pancit as an accompaniment at the dinner table. I like to be adventurous with my food, but most sweet desserts and snacks are simple and delightful just like this Kutsinta.
*If unable to attain lye water or have an aversion to using it, you can substitute cornstarch and cassava powder diluted in water. *Try trading the annatto water for boiled & mashed Ube/Purple Yam/Taro Root to make Purple Kutsinta!
1 cup rice flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups water
1 teaspoon lye water
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons annatto seeds
Add the annatto seeds to the water, stir them a bit, and let stand for 5 minutes before straining the seeds out.
In a large bowl mix the flours and sugars together.
While continuing to stir, add in the annatto water & lye water and stir very well.