Ginataang Bilo bilo is a type of Filipino sweet coconut milk soup usually enjoyed as dessert or afternoon snack.
The word, ginataang means “to cook in coconut milk” and bilo bilo means chewy rice balls . The chewy rice balls are made of mochi or sweet rice flour and water.
Because this soup also has all kinds of yams as well as yellow jackfruit, tapioca pearls, and saba bananas, sometimes it’s also referred to as “Ginataang Halo Halo“. Halo-halo in Tagalog means “a mix”.
I love having Ginataang Bilo bilo served warm. It’s especially comforting on a rainy day. Others enjoy it cold and refrigerated, just like most desserts. I suggest you try it both ways and let me know which one do you like better. Maybe you’ll be a fan of both versions!
- 5 (13.5 ounces) cans coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
- 1 cup peeled and chopped purple or white yam
- ¼ cup small tapioca pearls
- 10-12 pieces mochi balls (see recipe below)
- ¼ cup ripe jackfruit, cut in strips (canned or fresh fruit is fine as long as it's the ripe yellow kind, and NOT green and unripe)
- ¼ cup peeled and sliced Saba banana (plantains are ok too)
- ¼ - ½ cup organic sugar (or more to taste)
- pinch of ground nutmeg (optional)
- Pour coconut milk and water in medium-sized pot and put to a boil.
- Add purple yam and sweet potato. Simmer for 10 minutes. If using purple yam, the soup will have a beautiful purple hue.
- Pour tapioca pearls, mix, and put to a boil.
- Carefully place mochi balls (see recipe below). Wait until they float on top (about 5 minutes). If they haven't floated in 5 minutes, mix around and simmer until they float.
- Mix in jackfruit, banana, sugar, and nutmeg. Adjust and add more sugar and nutmeg to taste.
- The yams and sweet potato should be tender at this point. If not, simmer until tender.
- Put to a boil then turn off heat.
- Serve warm or cold. To enjoy cold, refrigerate before serving.
To make chewy rice balls/mochi balls/Bilo bilo:
- In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup glutinous rice flour (also known as sweet rice flour) and 2 tablespoons water. Using your hands, form into bite-size dough balls (size doesn't have to be precise). If dough balls are too dry to form, add more water one teaspoon at a time.
Glutinous rice flour is different from regular rice flour. If you used regular rice flour, it won't be chewy. Make sure it says "glutinous". Also, "glutinous" does not mean it has gluten in it. This recipe is in fact, gluten free.
When buying Saba bananas (usually available at Asian and Latin stores), pick the softer, mushier ones. It should look like it's going bad on the outside. If it's not that soft, it's not ripe yet.
Ginataang Bilo bilo or Halo halo is a dessert soup full of comforting flavors and textures. It’s great warm or cold and best enjoyed with a loved one. Kain na, let’s eat!