Espasol are Filipino delicacies made of toasted rice flour and sweetened coconut milk. Soft and chewy, these rice cakes make a delicious snack or dessert.
Sourcing Filipino supplies and ingredients for the blog here in our Central Texas has been rather frustrating. Having to drive twenty miles to the nearest Asian grocery store twenty miles only to find it half-stocked compared to the Seafood City I used to go to makes me realize how spoilt I’ve been by Southern California’s abundance of Asian and Filipino restaurants and supermarkets.
The pandesal, kutsinta, or pichi pichi that were readily available there and I used to take for granted have become precious commodities for me here in the South. Now, if I am craving Filipino kakanin or other delicacies, I have no choice but to make it myself. Which I guess is not such a bad proposition.
Store-bought items can get outrageously expensive and at times, not the best quality. And re-creating childhood favorites in your own kitchen can be so much fun! What can be more rewarding than biting into soft and chewy espasol you’ve labored over for hours?
What is Espasol
Espasol is a type of Filipino rice cake made popular in Laguna province. This classic delicacy is made from toasted glutinous rice flour cooked low and slow in sweetened coconut milk into a soft and chewy consistency.
The mixture is flattened into the desired thickness, dusted with toasted rice flour to coat, and then cut into tubular shapes or bite-sized squares. The sticky rice cakes are usually wrapped in banana leaves or flimsy Japanese for serving.
The recipe below is a basic mix of glutinous rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, but feel free to shredded macapuno or buko for added texture.
How to Make Espasol
Although the ingredients are few and the procedure is pretty straightforward, please be forewarned that making espasol involves a bit of elbow grease as the mixture has to be painstakingly stirred and turned over low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes or until it’s very sticky or “makunat” (what is the English translation for this word?).
- In a wide pan over medium heat, add sticky rice flour and toast, stirring regularly, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until color changes to pale gold and aroma becomes nutty. Set aside 1 cup to coat the rice cakes later.
- Do not leave the pan unattended as the flour can burn quickly and will add a bitter taste to the mixture.
In a wide pan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Bring to a boil until sugar and salt are dissolved.
Gradually add the 3 1/2 cups of the toasted rice flour, whisking vigorously to prevent lumps. Lower heat and continue to cook, stirring and turning regularly, for about 20 to 30 minutes or until mixture is very sticky and becomes oily. It’s ready when it’s tensile enough to spring back with a slight pull.
- Dust a working surface with 1/2 of the reserved toasted rice flour. Place the espasol mixture and using a lightly-greased knife or spatula, spread to flatten into about 1/2 thickness. Sprinkle remaining toasted flour and cut espasol into desired lengths.
- I like to use a baking pan to ensure even sizes. Watch the video below for the procedure.
- Individually wrap the prepared espasol in banana leaves or wax paper if desired.
- For leftovers, store in an airtight container and they should keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Give these delicious rice cakes a try! They require a bit of arm workout but are so worth the effort. They’re tasty and filling treats to have on hand for a midday snack or after-meal dessert.
Craving for more kakanin? This Kalamay Lansong is so easy to make; just mix the ingredients and steam!