There are several ways to make ginataang bilo-bilo, a porridge of rice balls simmered in sweet coconut milk. Different provinces have their own unique variations. For example, Pangasinan’s tambo-tambo includes tapioca pearls and local produce like sweet potato, cassava, or saba bananas.
We adapted this recipe from Marvin Gapultos, author of The Adobo Road, whose version of tambo-tambo uses sweet ripe mangoes. The rice balls and sago pearls makes this porridge fun to eat. Powdered milk gives it creaminess; vanilla makes it taste like ice cream. But feel free to skip them if you prefer a more coconut-y flavor.
- 4 cups water, for boiling
- ½ cup small dried sago or tapioca pearls
Sticky Rice Balls
- 1 cup glutinous rice ﬂour
- ½ cup warm water, plus more as needed
Sweet Coconut Milk
- 1 ¾ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup powdered milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups diced ripe mangoes
Cook the sago: Add water to a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Add sago pearls. Once the water returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook pearls, stirring frequently for 15–20 minutes. The pearls should be tender and translucent. Scoop out with a strainer and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
Make the rice balls: Combine glutinous rice flour and warm water in a bowl. Mix with a rubber spatula until it forms into a paste-like dough. Shape dough into balls by rolling them between your palms. Make them any size you want, but don’t make them too big—the balls will still expand a bit while cooking. Coat balls with glutinous rice flour to prevent them from becoming too sticky.
Make the sweet coconut milk: Combine coconut milk, water, sugar, and powdered milk in a pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
Cook sticky rice balls: Reduce heat to low and add the sticky rice balls. Cook until the color changes, about 3–5 minutes.
Serve: Stir in sago pearls, vanilla, and diced ripe mangoes. Ladle into bowls and serve warm.
The porridge gets thicker as it cools. Store it in the fridge for a cool and creamy dessert.