Saturday, March 14, 2009

Filipino Pilipit (Filipino Donut Twists) for Marichelle

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)
Confectioner's sugar

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.

In process of making the twists...

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.


Chowhound said...

My grandma used to make this for us, but it wasn't for free. We have to pound the glutinous rice to remove the husk, then manually pound them to turn them into rice flour. It was hard work but well worth it. This looks fabulous. It actually made me miss my Lola.

Ninette said...

Wow, Chowhound, I got a little teary eyed when I read your comment. Thank you for sharing! I feel kind of guilty as we just bought the rice flour at the store ... no pounding involved!

Ligaya said...

I made one just right now and it turned out crunchy outside and a bit chewy inside. You really have to make the consistency of the dough just right or you won't be able to form a twisted shape. It was experimental for me, the first batch I made was all purpose flour, egg, baking powder and milk but the end product turned out hard like you're eating sweetened rock. This one is crunchy outside but chewy which I believe is due to the glutinous flour or sweet rice flour(malagkit in powder form). I'm still looking the right pilipit recipe that will have the right turn out consistency. Just like the one I used to have when I was a kid.

Angelina said...

Chowhound: We are lucky to have a quern to pound the rice into rice flour. But then, it would take me and my brother the whole saturday morning to take turn grinding the rice with the quern. My brother use to say we will have big muscles at the end of the session. We never did. We were just 6 and 10 year old who wanted to eat "pinisi" donut twist.
After lunch our lola would do her magic, separating the big bits and the flour. By strike of 3pm, we have a ground cocoa drink with our donut twisty.
Thanks for the recipe, I might score some rice flour. Don't know if quern exist in north america, i would love my kids to have a touch of it.


Ninette said...

Angelina, I appreciate your story. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I cooked this today and it turned out as hard as a rock!!!! not a good recipe! It was a waste of my effort.

Ninette said...

Anonymous, that can happen. You have to perfect your technique, both in terms of your dough and cooking time. Practice makes perfect!

Wengy said...

Rice flour or the glutinous rice flour?

Ninette said...

Wengy, it's sweet, glutinous rice flour.

Ariam Acin said...

you're absolutely right po..I did the same thing but it turned out crispy and its tasted like nkakaumay because of the oil.. its so hard to look for the exact recipe and procedure as what the old people sell around before...