Steamed Rice Muffins (Puto)

My mom had her work cut out for her. Three kids, each more rambunctious than the next, and her third and final installment, me, just had to go ahead and bear a name that means rebellious. Weekly chores done? Meh, unlikely. Trash taken out? Probably not. Dishes? No way.

Forever borrowing her clothes and never letting her touch mine, rolling my eyes when we order the same food and perpetually bickering about my awful taste in music, mom and I are locked in a battle of the wits because, as much as I used to groan to admit, we’re exactly the same.

I feast my eyes on sidewalk sales and never, ever leave the grocery store without checking my receipt. I’m starting to laugh like her.

Although I’ll never be able to take her turbo 2-minute showers or fit into her shoes again, I’d like to think that when I grow up, I’ll be just as beautiful, smart and courageous as this mother who is now a lola and nothing short of the most wonderful woman I know.

And boy, can she cook.

Hailing all the way from the Philippines, my mom always had a few tricks up her sleeve in the kitchen. These little rice muffins, or puto, were a staple of Saturday morning breakfast in our household.

Rice flour, coconut milk and sugar are essentially all of the ingredients in these fluffy delights.

And thank goodness it’s summer, because I was twitching without mangoes, which grow like weeds in the Philippines. Mom always stuffed chunks of ’em into these muffins.

I would’ve been lost in this recipe if not for watching my mom, who built her own makeshift steamer with a couple of baking sheets.


Steamed Rice Muffin (Puto).

2 cups rice flour
2 cups coconut milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
mango chunks (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients before adding the coconut milk and water. Mix until creamy smooth.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full with batter before throwing in some mango chunks (you don’t have to push them in unless you want to).

For the steamer, place a lipped baking sheet about half full of water over two burners (preferably gas). Keep the heat low and place the cupcake pan in the baking sheet and cover with another lipped baking sheet.

Steam for about 30 minutes, making sure that the water doesn’t run out (it didn’t for me). A toothpick should come out clean when they’re done.

Makes 18 muffins, for one very special lady.

Happy Mother’s Day.