The best bud-bud kabog I have tasted in Manila is that of Maribel Van Hoven, who sells it at the Salcedo Saturday Market or through special orders from her base in Alabang. It is superb! I have always liked bud-bud or suman but usually find commercial versions too bland, too sticky or too boring. People often serve it with sugar or sometimes coconut in order to add flavor or simply mask the lack of it. A very common snack or dessert in the Philippines, suman is a result of abundant malagkit or glutinous rice and easy access to coconut milk across the country. But what makes this bud-bud kabog unique is that it is made from wild millet seed and uses a family recipe handed down through generationsâ€¦
Millet seed may conjure up images of your friendly parakeet, and in fact many varieties of millet are used for animal feed, but some are totally fit for human consumption. Millet is a cereal of the genus Panicum, a plant that bears small grains that if pounded yield a coarse flour. The specific variety of millet growing wild in the hills near Dumaguete is probably a Panicum miliaceum or Setaria italica variety or at least a close relativeâ€¦ you know those panicums and setarias, they all sleep with each otherâ€¦heehee, sorry I digress. Millet seed is said to be a good source of thiamin (Vitamin B1), niacin (Vitamin B3), phosphorous and magnesium. Apparently it is also hypoallergenic. Out of the three bud-buds in the first photo above, the one made from millet is at the rearâ€¦ It is superb because it has the right balance of flavor, texture and soul. It is extremely smooth without being processed, it is light, not overly sweet and glistens with coconut milk, and it tastes like it was made in some fantastic haciendaâ€™s kitchen by a fat cook who perfected her recipe over the years. It is really good and you donâ€™t need to serve it with anything. I can eat 3 or 4 in one sitting. This would have a place in my imagined last supper, if I could plan it.
The second bud-bud in the middle of the top photo is bud-bud bico. It is made from malagkit or glutinous rice and is heavier and more substantial. The flavor also shouts out more and it tends to sit more like a rock. It is very good, but my least favorite of the three versions on offer. I can only eat 2 of these in one sitting. Finally, they have a bud-bud flavored with luya (ginger) that is also very good. You can really taste the ginger and the flavor is smooth and noticeable, not sharp and raw. This is the most â€œclassicâ€ version I suppose and would pair well with a ripe mango. I can only eat 2 or these in one sitting as wellâ€¦ At PHP20.00 per piece, the budbud seem priceyâ€¦but wait until you taste them! They are tremendous value, period. I have seen a good suman made from scratch (and will post our own artisanal recipe sometime in the future) and it is a royal pain in the arm (from stirring). You can contact Maribel Van Hoven at 0917-4106612.