Binignit (Visayan Dessert Stew)

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Yields: 10 Servings Difficulty: Easy Prep Time: 10 Mins Cook Time: 2 Hr Total Time: 2 Hr 10 Mins

Binignit is a Visayan stew of fruit and tubers that’s eaten as a snack or dessert. The tubers used are usually gabi (taro), ube (purple yam), and camote (sweet potato). The fruits are saba (cooking bananas) and langka (jackfruit). Milled or whole grains of glutinous rice are used as a thickening agent. On top of this, sago or tapioca pearls of all sizes are added. Sometimes, palm-flour jelly balls called landang are also added.

Binignit is a Holy Week staple in every Cebuano and Boholano family. This is actually pretty cool because it is due to Filipinos avoiding meat during Holy Week. In fact, Cebuanos made the headlines for flooding to the Carbon Market to buy binignit ingredients amid Covid-19 control measures this year.

In this version, I used whole grains of glutinous rice, ube and camote, sago and banana, and coconut cream. The end result is a thick, starchy, and creamy stew that tastes somewhere between gruel and dessert. You can have binignit hot for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack, and cold as a dessert. Oftentimes, I’ve even had it as a main dinner meal.

Cooking the sago is the most time-consuming part of this dish, especially if you want to use big sago (tapioca pearls). Usually, I do this the day before. I boil the big sago for half an hour, then leave it in the boiled water for a few hours so it slowly cooks through. Then I drain the cooled sago and store it in the fridge.

When making binignit, make sure the coconut milk/cream does not come to a rolling boil. You want a gentle simmer to avoid curdling. Also, try to get muscovado (sugar cane) sugar as it adds a delicious smoky caramel flavour.

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Ingredients

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Instructions

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  • Cook your sago in massive amounts of boiling water.
  • After half an hour, turn the fire off and leave the sago to cook through in the hot water. Some of the insides will still be a bit opaque but don't worry about it.
  • Drain and store the cooled sago in the fridge for the next day.
  • Soak the glutinous rice in 400ml of water for a couple of hours.
  • Cube the root vegetables and bananas (not pictured).
  • Bring the water and glutinous rice to boil.
  • Add the coconut cream and watch until it starts to bubble a little bit. Turn the heat down so it simmers gently at boiling point.
  • Add the root vegetables and cooking bananas, salt and sugar, and cook for about 40 minutes.
  • Add the cooked sago and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • At this point, I like to turn off the heat and let the stew cook itself with the residual heat for another half hour. This is optional.

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