Puto Maya, It’s What’s for Breakfast

In addition to marketing the Morrow Cookbook list, I have the pleasure of working on much of our fiction list, too.  And every now and then, one of those novels will have such vibrant and sensual descriptions of food that I want to share it with the readers of The Secret Ingredient because I believe that you too will appreciate the way our favorite subject (cooking) is presented within the novel’s pages.

Most recently, that novel is Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos (she also wrote Love Walked In and Belong to Me). In this book, Pen and Will, two people who were best friends in college, travel to the Philippines to search for the third member of their college friendship’s trio, whom they think might be in danger.  In addition to hurtling themselves into a strange new culture, these friends haven’t been in touch in ten years and so are also dealing with the strangeness of getting to know each other all over again.  One of the things that makes all this strangeness manageable is the comforting culture and food of the Philippines. Pen and Will are greeted by the friendliest of people, who serve them the most delicious of meals.

Marisa’s passages about food are amazingly evocative, and I had no doubt that she was writing from her own experience about the Philippines. This description of a celebration buffet is a perfect example of how she gets it right (and by right I mean, makes us want to go there and eat):

…great piled tangles of noodles rife with bits of vegetables, meat, and shrimp; a concoction of eggplant, okra, green beans, squash and bitter melon called pinakbet; banana blossom salad; whole fish, crispy and gleaming with sauce; thin eggrolls called lumpia that Pen could have eaten like popcorn; and, glory of glories, down the center of its own special table, a roasted suckling pig, burnt orange, glistening, dizzyingly fragrant. Pen had a momentary qualm at seeing it whole—snout, ears, tail, the small, poignant hooves (“even-toed ungulate” is the phrase that appeared, unbidden, in Pen’s mind)—but once dismantled, the sublime combination of hard, crackly skin and nearly white, meltingly tender meat caused such rapture in her mouth that she gave hearty thanks to God that she was not a vegetarian

The author, at my request, has obliged us with a recipe of one of her favorite Philippine dishes, one that Pen (her character) eats for breakfast during her travels in Falling Together. That recipe is Puto Maya with Mangoes, which is a wonderful sort of exotic rice pudding, and I couldn’t resist it—I had to cook it myself. It is delicious, sticky and sweet and comforting, though truly unlike anything I’ve ever eaten for breakfast here. This is what I recommend: buy Falling Together. Once you start reading it, you won’t be able to stop, so make a pot of Puto Maya in the morning, begin the novel, and enjoy the rice as you read.  Oh and also: use a very heavy pot for this recipe, otherwise your rice will burn. Without further ado, here’s Marisa’s recipe, with her head notes.


Serves about 6

Pen eats this for breakfast in the Philippines, as do I—greedily–every time I go there, every chance I get!  We call it “sticky rice” and serve it with a mango sliced in half (discard the seed only after you’ve gnawed all the mango flesh off of it) and eaten, Filipino-style, with a spoon.  Most Filipino breakfasts also include a kind of bittersweet chocolate called sikwate, but you can substitute regular hot chocolate.  Cebu has the best mangoes in the world, but I have never found them in grocery stores here.  Try to get the small, kidney-shaped yellow ones, instead of the larger red and gold ones. Be sure to use a glutinous variety of rice, like the kind used for sushi.  It’s important that the grains stick together!  I use Kokuho Rose. 

2 cups glutinous rice (sweet, sticky rice)
4 cups coconut milk
3-1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar (or less, depends on how sweet you like it to be)
4” piece of ginger, peeled, and cut into ¾” chunks

1. Rinse rice and place in a 2-qt pot.
2. Add coconut milk, cover and let it come to a boil. When boiling, add the rest of the ingredients. Stir.
3. Turn heat to a lower setting and let mixture simmer for about 15 minutes or until rice is done. (It will be sticky!)
4. When done, scoop out rice, discarding the ginger root.

 Alternate bites of mango and rice and sips of hot chocolate.  Heavenly!

Learn more about Marisa de los Santos, read excerpts from Falling Together.


Buy the Book


7 Responses to “Puto Maya, It’s What’s for Breakfast”
  1. Normally I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up
    very pressured me to take a look at and do it!
    Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice article.

  2. Ces jours-Ci Sac Longchamps Pas Cher s’av’e rrtre chi burgh grande entreprise. N’importe qui peut déchiffrer ce durante many. The perfect.Nt à desired star pharmacie. Quelques-Uns signifiant ces local local drugstore ont groupss pots. Qui sont justes l’tout ensemble des all new standard différents blinds et crèmes qui sont sur le marché. Examination êtes-Vous censé savoir cual l’on vous ont you see, our own except for besoin?

  3. Where exactly did u actually acquire the ideas to write ““Puto Maya, It’s What’s for Breakfast The Secret Ingredient”?

    Thanks for your effort ,Wilbur

  4. nur says:

    I made this for the family and everoyne loved it. My boys cleaned their plates quickly. I used my mandolin to thinly slice the onions and they practically disappeared into the gravy. Voted thumbs up and a keeper by the family. Thanks for sharing.

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