Not known to many, corn is the second most important crop in the Philippines according to the Department of Agriculture, and also one of the staple foods of many Filipinos in the Visayas and Mindanao region. Way back in 1991-1994 in my three (3) years childhood in the province of Masbate, corn is our first alternative to rice when our rice supply has already depleted.
I wasn't happy nor proud about corn as our rice alternative back then, and honestly, most of us dreaded those times when we have to contend in eating corn with our backyard chicken. Dried and mature corn was mostly used as a feed for our farm animals that's why it was a hard transition for me to eat boiled corn-grits together with dried fish, sweet potato or boiled saba. Corn-rice was even given a monicker in our village as "bugas san pobre" (poor man's rice). In some instance, it has also become a symbol of terror, if not inspiration, for us to do our farm-work diligently, else we'll end up eating corn-rice for our lunch as punishment even if there's an available white or brown rice.
|Corn kernel composition|
We do love eating corn, but only in its normal way of cooking and consumption. Why we hate it back then was because the corn grits are rough even when cooked. You can feel the seed's pericarp (the coat which gets stuck in between your teeth) and tip cap as you swallow it. This was in part because the milling process of corn kernels way back then has no polishing involved (check the photos below).
I don't remember our parents and relatives telling us story about how the corn-rice has began, but one history mentioned by Ms. Abet Ocampo that Ms. Pilita Corrales - a famous Cebuana pop-singer and actress, promoted the corn-rice during the mid-1980's when the country experienced low supply of rice. That's a trivia for us! ;)
|Typical milled corn-grits|
|Milled RiCo corn rice|
Speed back to today, corn rice can now be seen in our favorite supermarket and is being championed by RiCo corn rice which surprisingly, is similarly shaped with rice and its grains are now smoother. Although it goes with the same proprietary milling process, the seed's coat (pericarp) as well as the tip cap is already removed, just probably with polishing involved. When cooked, it has the same texture as the regular rice that we're used to. Perhaps, transitioning from rice to corn-rice these days will no longer be as dreadful as it was before.
Benefits of Corn as Rice Substitute
RiCo tastes just like regular rice, it's not too sweet nor bland, and provides the nutrition not found from rice. Some of the long list of natural vitamins and minerals found in corn are Vitamin-B, Beta-carotene, Lutein, Dietary fibers, Protein, Magnesium, Protein, Phosphorous, among others.
Each grain is naturally rich in antioxidants and vitamin A as well as beta-carotene and lutein for good eyesight. As a complex carbohydrate, corn provides sustained energy. It is ideal for athletes and those who lead active lifestyles. Known for its high fiber content, a quality valued by the figure-conscious. In addition, corn has no cholesterol and has lower glycemic index for controlled and balanced blood sugar that is ideal for diabetics and weight watchers.
|RiCo Health Facts|
|RiCo Nutrition Facts|
Check out this health benefits of corn for more information.
RiCo Corn Rice
Rico corn rice is made from 100% Philippine-grown yellow corn dent variety fortified with iron and calcium and incorporating RiCo corn rice into the daily routine is fairly simple. Its preparation is not far from what we are accustomed to. But to prevent loss of water-soluble nutrients, the grains should not be washed. RiCo retains its yellow hue even after it is cooked, making it very visually appealing and a hit among children.
At the recent launch of RiCo, RiCo’s very own Chef Joey dela Cruz demonstrated the three easy steps of cooking RiCo: boil, pour, and simmer. Boil the suggested amount of water. Then, pour the desired amount of RiCo. Finally, simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. If a loose and fluffy consistency or buhaghag is preferred, RiCo should be cooked like pasta: boil the water, put in RiCo, and then, drain.
At home, you can use RiCo in your daily favorites such as sinangag, java rice, yang chow rice, and paella.
The locally produced RiCo is a first from the Philippines. Aside from making healthy yummy, this innovation also provides increased livelihood for our farmers and develops our country’s natural resources.
RiCo Agricultural Story
Athough the Philippines was formerly a rice exporter and continues to be a rice producer, it has been one of the world’s largest rice importers since 2010 due to the accumulated seasonal monsoon damage to crops, the contraction of arable land, and the inability of annual stock to cope with the demands of yearly population increase. On the other hand, corn supply remains adequate, particularly driven by the fact that it requires less water to produce. Actually, the mosture left in the soil after harvesting rice is enough to grow corn.
In Mindanao and the Visayas, corn is a food staple because it is more accessible and is considered more filling. Throughout the country, mais na bugas is made via small scale operations, usually with corn being dried at the side of the roads. However, this leads to a high moisture content in the dried corn making it susceptible to aflatoxin, a fungus that can hamper growth in children and cause liver dysfunction in general.
In 2012, state-of-the-art corn-drying facilities were set up by the La Filipina Uy Gongco Corporation in Bukidnon and Isabela to provide farmers in the nearby areas with the ability to dry their corn safely. Because of the air-drying process of the facilities, moisture levels are kept low; thus, rendering the corn aflatoxin safe. The presence of these corn-drying facilities also helped stabilize supply and, consequently, prices. These helped famers to maximize their revenue.
With the availability of safely dried corn, Philippine Leading Infinite Logistics, Inc. or PLILI, one of the companies under the umbrella of the La Filipina Uy Gongco Corporation, came up with rice-shaped corn. This product called RiCo has the healthy benefits of corn with the shape and yummy taste of rice.
Because it is made from 100% Philippine-grown corn, RiCo has no cholesterol and has low glycemic index or GI, which is a measurement of how fast blood-sugar or glucose is absorbed in the bloodstream. Low GI means slow and steady glucose absorption that is ideal for diabetics, athletes, and those who want to eat healthily.
As RiCo becomes more popular and is consumed more, RiCo corn rice helps the country to be self-sufficient regarding staple food. It is the RiCo vision to become part of the movement for healthy Filipino bodies and a healthy Philippine economy.
RiCo is available in 1-kilogram, 2-kilogram, and 5-kilogram packs at SM Supermarket, SM Hypermarket, Rustan’s Supermarket, Walter Mart Supermarket, Robinsons Supermarket, Ever Supermarket, The Landmark Supermarket, Sta. Lucia East Supermarket, Pioneer Centre Supermart, Hi-Top Supermart, Cherry Foodarama, South Supermarket, NCCC Supermarket, Gaisano Mall, and other leading supermarkets nationwide.
Here's two of my favorite viands that I partnered with RiCo. Adobo, sinigang, beef stew, and even tuyo (dried fish) or plain bagoong (anchovies) also tastes great with RiCo corn rice:
|Steamed boneless bangus with tomato and onion|
|Grilled tilapia with tomato, onion, and steamed kangkong tops|
Find more recipes below (click image to enlarge and download):
For more information and recipes, visit www.yummyhealthy.ph. You may also click on the Facebook page YummyHealthyLife. Follow the news about RiCo on Instagram and Twitter.