Palitaw Recipe

Welcome to another round of “Food Sunday” and as promised, here is the recipe for one of my favourite filipino dessert/snack.  I wrote this around Christmas time last year and have not changed a single thing since then.  So.. you will be hearing a little bit of my Christmas tradition on this post.   The photos you will see on here still have my old trademark  

Around Christmas time, when I was little, my parents would take my siblings and I to church at 5:00 in the morning to attend mass which is formally called  “Simbang Gabi” in Tagalog (Philippines’ language).  After mass, they would treat us to little rice cakes (Palitaw, Puto, Bibingka, etc.) that are sold by street vendors beside the church.  I remember this being the BEST part of waking up super early.  I was too young to understand why we needed to go to church that early for 9 consecutive days, but I do now.

Since we no longer live in the Philippines, rice cakes bought from the street vendors are totally out of the picture.  BUT, we are blessed to be living in an area where the filipino community is very much alive.  Our church offers “Simbang Gabi” with out the rice cakes.  In order to fill that void in our tradition, we make our own rice cakes – Palitaw.

Palitaw is one of the types of rice cakes that is sold by street vendors around this time.  It is traditionally made with 3 simple ingredients: glutinous rice flour, water, fresh shredded young coconut; garnished with brown sugar and sesame seeds.  The texture of the rice cake is chewy and have a slight crunch from the sesame seeds and shredded young coconut.

My recipe does not veer too far away from the traditional one.  I only changed the type of liquid that is used.

2 cups of Glutinous Rice Flour
1 cup of Coconut Milk*
1 cup of fresh or frozen shredded young coconut**
Coconut Sugar or Brown Sugar
Toasted Sesame Seeds (optional)

*the coconut milk that comes in a can. NOT the one that you drink.  You can also substitute this ingredient with water.
** if you are using frozen shredded coconut, make sure to thaw and drain before using it.


  1. Fill a medium pot about halfway with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper – we will be needing this to put our raw and cooked dough.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour and coconut milk together (I use my hands) until it forms into a ball.  The texture of the dough should feel like play-do.  If you find your mixture to be too dry, just gradually (a teaspoon at a time) add more coconut milk.
  4. Take the mixture and shape them into balls just about the size of a golf ball and set them aside on a lined baking sheet.  You should be able to make 12 with this recipe.
  5. By the time you get to this step, the water should be boiling.  If you have your stove turned up to high make sure you turn it down to medium heat.  Now, take one of the dough balls and flatten it by using your palm and your fingers into what ever shape you like (I formed them into ovals because it is traditionally made that way).  Make sure you do not make them too thin; 1/4″ thick is perfect.   Repeat this step until you have flatten them all OR you can flatten them right before you drop them into the water (next step).
  6. Drop the flattened dough into the water (I usually can fit about 3 flattened dough into my pot) .  You will know once the dough is cooked once it floats (Palitaw = Float) to the surface.  Remove the floating dough from the water with a slotted spoon and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet and let it slightly cool.  Repeat this step until you have cooked them all.
  7. Coat the cooked dough with the shredded coconut.  Repeat until done.
  8. Serve with a side of coconut or brown sugar and toasted sesame.
  9. Sprinkle the sugar and toasted sesame seeds (only if you like it) on to the Palitaw and enjoy!



Happy reading!


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