CHAMORRO POTU or Sweet Rice Cake

Hmmm? How does one describe these pure white puff pillows of steamed ground rice?  Light, soft, sweet, and sticky!  Growing up, this has been many a childhood’s favorite.  Although the ingredients are simple, this recipe is pretty prized amongst the native Chamorro women and no one would share theirs.  It was a guarded secret recipe, and some have literally taken it to their grave!!  In my quest to find a GOOD recipe, because it is one of my husband’s favorite dessert; I’ve tweaked and wasted, and tweaked and wasted countless ingredients trying to perfect this recipe. I remember my sister-in-law, Mona and I, and mind you, she’s an EXCELLENT cook, I remember us mixing, beating, steaming and without any close results, have failed trying to perfect it.  I gave up! I just prayed that a passer by relative who’s flying in, stops and delivers some of these cakes, made all the way from the islands, to us.  I’d freeze them, steam them as we needed, and then one day our stash of sweet rice potu was G-O-N-E, gone! With this recipe, I believe I’ve come close to, as close to can get, especially since one of the “main” ingredients is TUBA, which is not available in my area.  Because I have no access to this sweet “drink”,  I’ve had to improvise and use store bought jarred “Coconut vinegar OR Palm vinegar”.  Their flavor “ALMOST” mimics the taste of sweet Tuba, but of course, if you can get sweet Tuba, please use it.  This is how “I” make Chamorro Potu.  Please Please, pass on your comments and POSITIVE critiques, I would love to hear from you.  Until then, HAPPY COOKING, BAKING, and STEAMING! 😉


1 cup Jasmine rice  (pictured below)
3/4 – 1 cup Water or  (if you’re lucky) Sweet Tuba
3 – 4  Tablespoons Palm Vinegar, depending on the vinegar, I sometimes add up to 5 Tbsp. (Vinegar, pictured below)
1/2 cup Sugar, to taste
3 teaspoons Baking powder

*NOTE:  If you are lucky enough to have sweet tuba for this recipe, OMIT the palm vinegar and possibly cut back on the sugar, depending on how sweet the tuba is.

Because the rice kernels HAVE TO soak,  you need to start the night before you’re planning on serving it.  The brand of rice I use is pictured below.  If you decide to use another brand or type of rice, I will not be held responsible if you fail with this recipe.   I’ve only used this brand whenever I make my recipe.  The palm vinegar I used is also pictured below.  I’m sure other brands can be used.  I’ve also tried using coconut vinegar and it works fine.


This is the brand of rice I used in this recipe.

This is the brand of rice I used in this recipe.

This is the brand I used in this recipe, but of course you can use other brands.

This is the brand I used in this recipe, but of course you can use other brands.











Measure out 1 cup of the dry rice.  Wash the rice in water until the water runs clear!  Drain well.  Place into a container, add the  1 cup of water or sweet Tuba and cover.  Set this aside and allow to soak for a minimum of 12 hours but preferably overnight.

*There were times that I had it soaking for 2 days, but no longer than that.










When you’re ready to prepare the recipe,  start heating up the water in your steamer.  In the container that your rice is in, there may still be some water left from the soaking.  DO NOT drain this water.  Place the rice into a heavy duty blender container, (I use my Vitamix Professional 750) for this process since it’s pretty heavy duty.  Add the sugar and palm vinegar to the rice and water.

NOTE:  If you do not have a heavy duty mixer, you may have to do this step in smaller increments.  Just process the rice in batches, rather than one whole time.  Although, I’ve never done it this way, if you have a heavy duty food processor, such as a KitchenAid,  I’m sure you could also use that.  The key is to grind the rice to a very fine sandy texture, with no large bits of rice left!










Process this in your blender, until the rice kernels are finely grounded.  Shut the blender off and add the baking powder.  Now process again for a minute or 2 being careful that the mixture doesn’t heat up.










While the mixture is still processing, line up your silicon cups in the steamer basket.   For easier handling, pour the batter into a smaller container and pour  3/4 of the way into each baking cup.  This mixture makes about 12 regular sized Potu cakes OR more if you use smaller cups.










Place the steamer basket into the steamer pot, which should already be producing heavy steam.  Place a CLEAN kitchen towel over the top of the steamer basket to catch any condensation that will occur during the steaming process.  Place the lid onto the pot.  The lid will also hold the towel taught so that it doesn’t fall onto the Potu.  Steam this for a minimum of 20 minutes, depending on the heat that’s produced, it may take up to 30 minutes.  It just all depends on your steamer.











After about 20 minutes, CAREFULLY remove the lid and lift the towel, to see how the process is going.  I get excited when I see that little “crack” in the center of my Potu, (although it’s NOT a necessary to enjoy delicious Potu).  When done, the Potu should spring back a bit, with a slight stickiness to the tops.










Remove from the steamer pot and allow them to cool before removing them from the basket.  Set them aside to cool completely before removing them from the silicon cups.   SERVE!  Place the leftovers in a plastic bag to keep them fresh.


34 thoughts on “CHAMORRO POTU or Sweet Rice Cake

  1. Thanks a million for sharing this recipe, I’ve been looking for similar recipe for years both back home in Cebu and in every cooking websites but to no avail. I can’t wait to make it.

    • Just make sure to follow the recipe to the T, including using the same brand rice. Others have tried it with different brands and have failed. I’ve been making this recipe for years and it’s always worked. Post your results…..MERRY CHRISTMAS!

  2. I am eager to try this recipe but do not own a blender or food processor. Can you use rice flour instead and is it an equal measurement to dry rice in your recipe? Thank you.

  3. For the longest time…no one that I can recall ever mastered making the POTU. Well, I’m very proud that after so many years spent with time, money, and labor, my awesome Wife finally mastered making THE POTU!!. We are truly blessed that one of our CHAMORITA is sooo generous by sharing one of the hardest recipe to make just like our Elders made, but sadly they literally kept it in their grave for no one to experience. Thank you and Thank you Babygirl! Love you (Vince)

    • Believe it or not, it was because of YOU my dear husband that I made it a mission to figure it out! Because it was one of your favorite desserts, I wanted to master it for YOU! I love you more….

  4. do they carry the rice you used in walmart or any place like that? ive been dieing for these, and i want to try your recipe! everytime i visit my grandparents back home in Guam i always make a pit stop for these :).

    • I’m really not sure if they do? I’m sorry…’s what they sell locally in my area, and have adjusted my recipe for it. If you use any other brand, reduce the water to about 3/4 cup. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  5. This is my third time to make this, and I still can’t make it rise …. Help me here ….I followed your direction to the T, what I’m I doing wrong?

    • I can’t think of anything but maybe making sure that the baking powder is good. Are you getting good steam coming from your steamer? Are you using the correct rice? Unless I’m right there with you, I can’t possibly know the reason why? Are you making sure that the rice is grounded down to a VERY FINE pulp? You shouldn’t feel any bits at all!

      I’m sorry it’s not worked for you, but I assure you, many have made it on their first try WITH SUCCESS, because I only post “Tried and True recipes”!

  6. AWESOME! I’m a first timer…Tried it, love it!!! Thank you!! However, I was soaking a cup of rice to make the next day and totally slipped my mind and my weekly agendas. Lol. I say weekly because it’s been soaking for 3 weeks now. Should I attempt? Lol.

    • LOL, I would attempt to…..rice is cheap so it wouldn’t hurt; especially for future reference.

      I’m glad that it was a success for you! I’ve attempted many times, thrown out ingredients, and tried and tried, until I achieved this stage and now, it’s PERFECT every time. Please let me know if you do attempt to prepare it again using the 3 weeks soaked rice and post the results…..

  7. Your recipe was easy to follow but my first attempt wasn’t successful but I think I forgot to add the baking powder haha. I’m trying again and praying it comes out right!

    • I’m sorry to hear that! You are actually the first one that has said that…..I have several that have tried it and commented at how great it was and how much it reminded them of home.

      I’m not sure what went wrong and very sorry!

  8. Pingback: Chamorro Potu (Sweet Rice Cake) | Annie's Chamorro Kitchen

  9. Been craving Potu for a while now, just have to find the time to make them. Thanks for sharing your “Iron Chef” craft Rose! 🙂 I’ve been traveling for work, so now I will make time. Thanks so much!

  10. Thank you sooo much for the detailed tutorial…..I’ve been searching for so loong. Going to make this, because, I did not know, you could substitute palm venigar in a bottle bought at asian markets. I was worried, because there is no fresh tuba here in the mainland.

  11. I will like to try this recipe. I have a girlfriend who makes her potu using rice flour. The Chamorros here in NC love it however it never had the taste like home. This will be new.

    • There is a recipe that uses rice flour that I have tried and it’s good. But I wanted to try and make it this way, and it comes out perfect every time! So long as you follow the directions to the “T”, you will be golden. 😉 What part of NC do you live in?

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