My sister, Marichelle, facebooked me today, asking if I had a pilipit recipe. Instantly, memories came back to me of my mother pan-frying the cute, little braided twists made of rice flour in our 1970s avocado green kitchen. We would dust them with confectioner's sugar, and quickly eat them while they were still warm. Depending on the cook, these can be light and crispy, like the ones pictured here, or be chewy and have a hard crust.
Pilipit usually have grated coconut in them, but I didn't have grated coconut in the pantry, so I used coconut milk instead of water to bring the dough together. It worked great.
Instead of confectioner's sugar, you can also make a brown sugar syrup and toss them in the syrup after they are fried. To make the syrup, take 1 cup of brown sugar, add about 1/2 cup of water and boil together, stirring, for a few minutes until it's syrupy. Or you can just serve them with honey or agave nectar, which is untraditional but does the job.
2 cups rice flour (Mochiko Brand is probably the most widely available rice flour here)
1 cup dry coconut flakes or fresh shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten
Can of coconut milk (not sweetened - shake well before you open the can)
Oil for frying
Put rice flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix together. Add egg and enough coconut milk to bring the dough together, adding 3/4 cup first and then little by little until the dough can be kneaded into a ball. You may not need the whole can of coconut milk. If for some reason you need more liquid, add water.
On a rice-dusted surface, roll the dough ball into a rope. Dust your hands first with rice flour. Use the palms of your hand and light pressure, rolling the dough back and forth and starting from the middle and the going outward toward the edges to lengthen the rope.
When the rope gets as long as you can handle, start breaking it into smaller pieces that you're comfortable working with. Ultimately, you want ropes of 1/3-1/2 inch diameter and about 6 inches long. Take each 6-inch piece and twist it. Dust the dough with rice flour if it starts sticking to your hand.
Breaking off a piece from the larger roll of dough to make the pilipit-sized roll. Here is a piece that will make 2 6-inch twists.
Depending on how much flour you use in the dough, making the twists can be easy or a little difficult, with the dough falling apart a little in the case of a more moist dough. The more moist dough will be lighter in the end. It might take you a couple tries to get the dough the right thickness and length, with the right twist. Practice makes perfect.
Heat oil in a skillet or wok to 360 degrees over medium-high heat. Another way to test the oil is to throw a piece of bread into the oil, because it will mimic how the pilipit will brown. If it browns very quickly, the oil is too hot; if it takes a long time to brown, then it's not hot enough. Adjust the temperature as necessary.
Add pilipit one by one into the oil, making sure they're separate from each other as they'll stick together. Cook until evenly browned, turning as necessary. This takes just a few minutes.
Drain and powder with confectioner's sugar. Eat when warm.