In the wake of the very successful Lasang Pinoy event, I now have a long list of must try recipes. One of the posts that tickled my tastebuds, is a post from WatsOn about foods cooked with coconut milk. It reminded my of my mom’s guinataan. She cooked some while I was in California last month, and it was really delicious. Unfortunately, the next night, on the second go round of it, she forgot about it being on the stove heating, and burned the bottom, ruining our second helpings. WatsOn’s post about coconut milk just made me crave it again, so I thought I’ve make us a batch this past weekend. So pareng WatsOn, this one’s for you 😉

Of course I had plenty of help making the bola bola which is the marble sized dough made from rice flour. This was the girls’ special project. Do you see they tried to slip a square one on me? 🙂
Dough Balls Calling mom for a consult
I also had to do some quick on-phone consulting with mom as I wasn’t quite sure of the order in which to cook things. It’s a good thing I did, or I wouldn’t have known to boil the dough balls in water first.

Guinataan Halo-Halo

Guinataan Halo-Halo
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
A common Filipino dessert and/or snack made with coconut milk, fruits and rice balls.
  • 1 12 oz pack of rice flour
  • 6 cups of water
  • 4 cups of coconut milk
  • 2 plantains, cubed
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups of cooked tapioca balls
  • 1 cup of sugar, give or take a couple of tablespoons (to your taste)
  • A dash of Salt - to temper the sweetness
  1. To make the dough balls, moisten the rice flour with water just until it sticks together. Roll the dough into ¼ inch balls.
  2. Boil 6 cups of water in a pot, and when it comes to a rolling boil, gently drop the dough balls, stirring occationaly so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan or to each other.
  3. Cook until tender or until they rise to the top. By the time they are cooked, the water should be slightly thickened also.
  4. Add to this the coconut milk and let it come back to a simmer but not a rolling boil. A rolling boil will cause your coconut milk to separate, according to my mom.
  5. You can also add about ¾ cup of the sugar and a dash of salt. When it comes up to a simmer, add the sweet potatoes and plantains (saba if you can find it) and cook until they are tender.
  6. Add the tapioca pearls and adjust the sweetness to your taste.
If you can afford extra richness, you may serve this topped with additional coconut cream. Yumm!

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29 comments on “Guinataan
  1. bijou says:

    This is how my mother told me to make it–to a tee. Thanks for the pictures. I’m klutzy in the kitchen, and I needed the visual aids. Will let you know how it turns out.

  2. la lang says:

    youre puting the Guinataan……

    and then youre not puting what kind of guinataan is this pls….

    when youre puting like this put what kind of guinataan is this because theres many guinataan……

  3. Dita says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I was craving for it that I decided to check the internet and found yours. I can’t wait for the weekend to cook it.

  4. mcel says:

    we call it rebitikong

  5. mcel says:

    where and how did ginataan began?

  6. mcel says:

    ey, anyone have idea where ginataan came from? where and how it started?

  7. JMom says:

    Hi Elizete, rolling boil, as I described to the question above is, “Rolling boil means when the bubbles in the water are rolling and breaking through the surface. When the bubbles are just staying below the surface, staying pretty much in on place, that is a simmer.”

    I believe in Portuguese it would be feverndo. That’s according to my Portuguese intern who just happens to be working with me this summer 🙂

  8. Elizete/MA. says:

    Hi Jmom,
    Thks, for your lesson I did not Know what “Rolling boil” was, Iam traying translate it into Portuguese.

  9. JMom says:

    HomeJewel, oh no! Yeah, you shouldn’t soak them or you will have jello. haha! No laughing matter though when you’ve spent so much time and effort cooking something and it doesn’t come out right.

    I followed a method that CeliaK had on her post which was from Wendy. Try it, it works really well. I actually just bought some more sago, the multi colored ones, and I can’t wait to try them!

  10. HomeJewel says:

    jmom: HELP!! I tried to make pearl tapioca following a recipe off the internet. The directions said to soak the tapioca overnight. When I did this, the tapioca pearls went to mush – disintegrated. How do you cook your tapioca? I recently bought the pearl tapioca at a local Asian market, so I don’t think they are too old. There are no directions on the package. My e-mail is

    Thank you so much for your help!

  11. JMom says:

    Hi HomeJewel, thanks! I’m glad you found our home on the web 😉 I hope you do get to try it. You are lucky you are probably close to all the authentic ingredients and won’t have to improvise like I do most of the time.

  12. HomeJewel says:

    I am so happy to have found this recipe! My husband and I lived outside Clark AB over 15 years ago and I used to buy guinataan from a street vendor. I’ve missed it all these years – especially the sweet rice balls. I can’t wait to try it. The pictures are great!

  13. JMom says:

    Mililani, I hope your attempt at making ginataan was successful 🙂

    Anon, I think bilo bilo and bola bola are interchangeable? But I’m not an expert, so don’t rely on my guess too much 🙂

  14. Anonymous says:

    isn’t it supposed to be bilo-bilo not bola-bola?

  15. Anonymous says:

    My Grandma made ginataan only on our birthdays when growing up. She’s 90 years old now and want to make it for her. I tried looking for it, and found your recipe. Thank you so much! The picture itself made my mouth water.

    Mililani, Hawaii

  16. ting-aling says:

    Ha, another idea for labor day!

  17. JMom says:

    Slurp away, CeliaK! there’s plenty to go around 🙂 I actually ended up freezing half the pot, there is just too much for the girls and I to finish in a few days. My mom says she has frozen this before, so we’ll see how it is after a trip to the freezer.

    Hi drstel! that was news to me too, to boil it in water first. I always assumed you cook the whole thing in pure coconut milk. Mom said it will start separating if you cook the coconut milk for the length of time it would take to soften the balls.

    Hi dexie! I have a cousin who would be perfectly happy with just the bilo bilo in the guinataan. 🙂

    Hi Karen! that is actually how my mom makes her ginataan, with lanka and gabi, but I didn’t have either in the pantry, and the oriental market had already closed 🙁

    No problem, Toni! If you were closer, not only would I remind you, I will give you your own bowl 🙂

    Hi Jeanny! I’m glad you found your way here, and thanks for the link 🙂 That must apply to most kids making bilo bilo, all those little balls just tempt you to try another shape 🙂

    Hi Joey! me too, I love the bola bolas too, just like my cousin I mentioned above. That’s why my mom always make a double batch of dough, she knows it will disappear quickly 🙂

  18. joey says:

    That looks so good! The bola bola is my favorite part!

  19. Jeanny says:

    Hi There. Got here from Toni’s.

    Nakakatuwa naman mga kids mo, reminds me na ganyan din kami noon when we were kids and asked by our parents to make bilo bilo (yan kc tawag ng mom ko eh) for ginataan. Hmm…im craving for ginataan na 😀

    btw, Link kita ha.

  20. Toni says:

    I love guinataan! It’s been a long time since I’ve had this. Thanks for reminding me of this pinoy treat!

  21. Karen says:

    Yehey!!! Those naughty, naughty girls! I wonder what shapes they’ll come up with next time, hehehe! But cute!!!

    Guinataan is indeed comfort food and it also varies between regions. If you can get some (canned) jackfruit and taro (gabi), add them to the recipe next time. But with or without them, this is perfect!

  22. dexiejane says:

    oooh, i can almost taste the chewy dough and the sweet flavor. yum!

  23. drstel says:

    thanks for that tip JMom. they sell the dough balls already formed, ready to boil, different colors, but now i know what to do with them (puro chracters yung methods ehehehe.) the kids always love this “sweet soup.”

  24. celia kusinera says:

    Haay ang sarap naman, I need some right now ‘coz it’s been raining non-stop here. Pahigop nga – sluuurrrppp!!

  25. JMom says:

    Thanks, Thess 🙂 Pilya sila, no? They said next time they want to do other shapes. Sacrilege! it wouldn’t be bolabola then, now would it?

    Hi Jun! kakatuwa ka talaga 🙂 Rolling boil means when the bubbles in the water are rolling and breaking through the surface. When the bubbles are just staying below the surface, staying pretty much in on place, that is a simmer.
    ok, that will be 10 cents for that cooking lesson 🙂

    Hi Midge! I love guinataan on a rainy day too. So it’s raining there already? We’re still having hot weather here, but I just had to have some ginataan 🙂

  26. Midge says:

    Uy! Ginataang halo-halo! That looks so tempting. With all the rain we’re getting here in Manila of late, I’m suddenly craving for a nice big bowl of it!

  27. jun says:

    really yumm! i love guinataan. rolling boil? i have so much to learn jmom.

  28. thess says:

    my grandma’s ginataan, a perfect mirienda..looks gooooood, Jmom!!

    plus a picture of a kitchen diva, cool! (^_^)

    btw, your kids are naughty, ha ha

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