Sunday, September 16, 2007

Junk food of the week: Bubur Sumsum

The word bubur tells you this is a rice porridge, but while most bubur dishes are savory, this one is sweet. The porridge, which has a pudding-like consistency, is topped with palm sugar syrup.

According to The Food of Indonesia, "Bubur Sumsum is the Indonesian equivalent of a Jewish mother's chicken soup: if you have a problem, eat a bowl of Bubur Sumsum and all will be well."

This version, which I got from at the Benhill traditional market, certainly meets the definition of a comfort food: blandly sweet, not too complicated, and easy to eat even if you have a toothache or a sore throat. The porridge was a bit salty and the syrup quite sweet, with a slightly caramelized flavor. If I were designing my own, I'd use more bubur and less syrup, because I found this version very sugary.

I've never made Bubur Sumsum, but the recipe looks pretty easy. The surprise ingredient is chalk. According to the recipe, Indonesian cooks say it adds a "gentle, soft flavor."

Look for rice flour and palm sugar at Asian grocery stores, and chalk at an office supply store (or have a child pilfer some from school). You could substitute brown sugar for the palm sugar, but it won't be as flavorful.

1.5 cups rice flour
6 cups water
1 teaspoon powdered white writing chalk
grated coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
Palm sugar syrup (simmer equal parts palm sugar and water together for ten minutes; strain)

Mix first three ingredients and strain through a fine sieve. Bring to a boil in a heavy pan. Simmer for about 30 minutes until thick. Cool to room temperature, top with coconut mixed with salt, and pour palm sugar syrup over.


elyani said...

I'd never heard about this chalk (kapur) addition in bubur sumsum recipe, but perhaps those bubur sumsum vendor need to add them so they will last long. In the old days, bubur sumsum was made from fresh ground rice where every family still own the "lumpang" (a traditional rice mortar from rock or wood) then they would sift them and use the fine flour to make the pudding for the next morning. Make sure to mix all the ingredients very well combined before putting the saucepan on the stove and cook on a medium heat until they become a thick paste. It would taste better if you can find fresh squeeze coconut milk too. They just taste different than the coconut milk from the cartons or cans. And dont forget to toss in 1 or 2 pandanus leaves inside the mixture.

elyani said...

You may like to try this recipe

m said...

chalk sounds highly unadvisable as an ingredient in food. it's made from combinations of processed limestone, other "rocks", and occasionally toxic chemicals, depending on the manufacturer!

pudding has remained yummy for eons without using chalk, and I say it should continue thusly.