New Year’s Eve. The lazy inertia of Christmas is still there. So I had to watch a replay of the Christmas day game in which the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics ending the latter’s 19-game winning streak, the other one in which the Golden State Warriors beat ’em the next day , and just last night, when the Portland Trailblazers (without Brandon Roy their star player) rendered the mighty Green Machine a shambles in the fading minutes. The clincher, of course, is a replay of the December 6th Oscar dela Hoya-Manny Pacquiao instant classic in which Manny unilaterally decided to do an extreme makeover of the beautiful face of the Golden Boy! Ah, the blood flow doesn’t fail to tingle and so here I am, stirred not shaken, and fully awake to create a deluxe edition of the once drab tupig. Try the following recipe:
- 8 lbs. glutinous rice flour
- 4 lbs. brown sugar
- 5 13.5-oz cans of coconut milk
- 3 24-ounce bottles of string macapuno in syrup
- 24 ounces of clean shelled sesame seeds
- 2 cups of shelled walnut
- 5 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. iodized salt
Pour and mix the glutinous flour, sugar, and salt in a large enough mixing bowl. [NOTE: If you have a sweet tooth and no excessive sugar issues, you may want to add another pound of brown sugar.] Pour the sesame seeds on a pan and roast it over medium heat (300 degrees), stirring until a golden brown to bring out the flavor and pour it over the mixture. Chop the shelled walnuts into smaller pieces so that they roast more uniformly before pouring them into a blender/chopper to get a fine uniform grind. Pour the walnuts in the mixture. Mix all these dry ingredients before mixing in the string macapuno (including the syrup), coconut milk, and vanilla. [NOTE: Depending on your preferences, you may add another can of coconut milk.] Mix thoroughly. Let the mixture stand properly covered at least one hour, or preferably overnight, to get a uniform mixture.
To make it easier to work with the fresh/frozen banana leaf wrappers, heat the oven to 300-350 degrees, warm up the banana leaves one layer at a time until the “greenness” of the leaves slightly changes. Be careful not to overheat, or the leaves become burnt and stiff and useless. Wipe the excess moisture off the leaves. This process also cleans the leaf surface.
Spoon enough of the above mixture on a strip of prepared banana leaf, approximately 5 to 6 inches wide, preferably over one edge to make it easy to roll it like you roll a cigarette when wrapping it. Flatten the roll just a little bit. You may fold both ends of the roll to reduce the incidence of the mixture oozing out.
Preheat a roaster oven (a large turkey oven roaster will do) to 400 degrees. Place a cookie rack inside and put a layer of the rolled tupig over it. Put another cookie rack over the first rack and put another layer of tupig. Depending on the size of the roaster, you may be able to place a third cookie rack and another layer of tupig. Cook covered for 40 minutes (If you’re cooking a single layer of tupig, 35 minutes will do). [NOTE: The roaster oven simply cooks more evenly and the cooked tupig remains relatively soft even after it has cooled off. To be honest, this is not how we cook tupig in Bangui. One just had to improvise when one does not have the “natural resources” available in Bangui.]
Enjoy your tupig deluxe! And have a Happy New Year!
Now tell me how to improvise to arrive at a similar result as cooking the same tupig mixture poured in a segment of freshly cut green bamboo cooked while buried in a bed of sagat embers. Ah, the aroma, tenderness and incomparable taste of that one!