The Square Suman

These square blocks were suman. Judging based on how it unwrapped, it was suman sa lihiya. The wrapper was sticking strongly to cake. The other variant, which is suman sa antala (suman sa gata) has easier to remove wrapping. The color is usually lighter green.

square suman with puto and syrup sauce

Outside color is superficial. The mix of brown and green. Banana leaves are green. It turn brown when heated due to degradation of chlorophyll . Some pigments are transferred to suman during cooking. The lihiya (lye water), maybe, has something to do with it too.

Note: To put it simply, lye water is a strong alkali solution. It contributes to gummy and sticky suman characteristics. On the other hand, coconut milk has greasy effect. I like both, but often want somebody to unwrap it for me.

unwrapped square suman

The case is different with suman cassava. The color is light brown with no traces of green pigment. The color is inherent to cassava itself.

The taste confirms it. It was suman sa lihiya. The other variant has distinct coconut taste.

It was unique. A rectangular shape. It was normally round and elongated. Like the shape of hotdog and sausage. Divided to sections before pricking with fork and eating. Or, hold on one end and peel off like ripe banana. Making it square was a drastic move. People might not recognize what it is. The seller has extra tasks. Good if he is aggressive. He is going to do the explaining and offer taste testing. If not, the day might end up without any sale.

The incident happened to us when I decided to change the tabliya shape. For easier and faster molding, I shifted from pulvoron mold to polycarbonate. It really made the job easier but selling it was the opposite. People wanted the tablet shaped product and not the bar looking chocolate.

It is not bad to go against the common as long as you are prepared to handle the consequences.

There might be a place where they make square suman. Like the suman Antipolo which is wrapped with coconut leaves. The Tupig of Pangasinan. A rather thin suman with added coconut strips. The sellers are placing them over ember before handing to costumers. I call it inihaw na suman.

P. S. It came with a not well made syrup. The choice of raw sugar was nice. However, they should have put more effort in dissolving it all.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

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