Suman Sa Lihiya is a Filipino sweet sticky rice cake steamed in a banana leaf.
It has wonderful chewy, gooey, sticky texture which comes from treating the rice in lihiya, or lye water.

Unfortunately, lye water is not easy to find in the U.S. Although it is not dangerous at this concentration, some people don't like the idea of ingesting a substance which shares the same active ingredient as Drano.

You have probably consumed lye before: it's used to make olives, pretzels, and various Asian noodles, such as ramen and lo mein.

If you don't have, or don't want to use lye, don't worry! You can still make this recipe work. 

According to this article, it turns out that baked baking soda will work as a substitute.
Baking the baking soda turns it into sodium carbonate, a stronger alkali, which makes it suitable to use in place of lye water.

I tried it, and it worked perfectly!

This recipe is non-traditional. It is more of a combonation of Suman Sa Lihiya and Suman Sa Gata (Coconut Milk Sticky Rice Cake)
You get the best of both worlds : the chewiness of the treated rice combined with the flavor of coconut milk.

Feeling hungry? Let's make some suman!

Step 1: Gather Ingredients and Equipment

Ingredients:  (Makes about 25 suman)

- 4 cups glutinous rice ( also known as sticky rice or sweet rice, can be found in Asian groceries or in the Asian aisle )

- 1 can of coconut milk (use coconut cream if you want it creamier)

- 3 to 4 cups of water

- 1 tablespoon lihiya/lye water/kansui /alkaline water (can be found in Asian markets)
    If you have this, you can skip steps 3 and 5. 
    If you do not have it, or do not want to use it, then use 1/4 cup of baking soda
and follow steps 3 and 5.
- 2 thawed packages frozen banana leaves
(these can be found in the frozen section of any Asian, Hispanic, or large multicultural grocery) or or 4 large fresh banana leaves.

- Cotton string ( only if there are no extra leaves left from Step 10)

- A purpose built steamer or a makeshift one

- A pot/bowl to soak the rice

- A pot large enough to cook 4 cups of rice
Have everything? Let's make some Suman!

Why do you bake the baking soda?
<p>It increases the alkalinity of it </p><p>http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/dining/15curious.html</p>
<p>What a lovely instructable! It is exactly what I was looking for. And I'd never heard of using baked baking soda. I'm going to make this one of these days, and then I'll get back here to report. Thanks a bunch.</p>

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