I finally nailed the recipe for budbud kabog (millet and coconut milk rolls). It’s a recipe I am happy to put on this blog and will definitely use again in the future. It is similar to the recipe already on the net which in turn appears to be from the article from Pia Lim-Castillo published in a 2003 Food Magazine. However, the net sourced recipe didn’t work exactly to my liking so I tweaked it a bit. It turns out to be incredibly simple to make and the results are well worth the effort. What else do you do the day after a major storm and the lights are out but cook up a storm in the kitchen… The morning after Milenya hit, an LBC truck pulled up to the house and honked its horn several times to get our attention. I took delivery of 3 more kilos of kabog from Cebu and I promptly sent the cook off to the market to get some coconut milk (she had to get rice as well)… Before I describe the steps, here are are some important reminders. Use fresh kabog or millet. Taste one and if it is extremely bitter, it is likely to be old. It should have a mild salty to sweet taste. The proportions of liquid to millet are absolutely critical…it is the reason I screwed up so many times without any clue what the proportions should be. If you recall, my fifth attempt was close but since I added too much coconut milk, it wasn’t a winner. If you put too little liquid, it is grainy, pastey and hard. If you put too much, it is like wrapped porridge and too soft.
Here is the simple recipe: first, take 1/2 kilo or 500 grams of fresh kabog or millet and rinse it in 2-3 changes of fresh water. Drain it and set aside. Next squeeze about 6 to 6.5 cups of coconut milk from about 3 grated coconuts. Place 6 cups of coconut milk (reserve the 1/2 up) in a kawali or wok/pan and put it over high heat until it boils and reduces slightly. Add the 500 grams of millet and stir constantly until the millet starts to absorb the coconut milk. Lower the heat to medium low and use some elbow grease…it will be roughly 30-35 minutes of cooking and stirring and you must ensure that the bottom does not burn or crust. You will notice that the volume of millet will increase (possibly seeming to grow 1 to 1.5 times the original volume) as it absorbs the milk. If the millet is particularly dry, you may find it necessary to add the additional half cup of milk but try not to lest you end up with semi-mush. Only experience and doing this recipe 2-3 times will truly give you the confidence to cook based on consistency. About 20 minutes into the cooking, add about 1 and 1/4 cup of sugar. Some add a teeny bit more if you prefer your budbud on the sweeter side, I don’t.
In some of my earlier experiments, I put the sugar into the milk before adding the millet. I received expert advise to wait until later in the cooking process. I also eliminated the dashes of salt from earlier recipes (though I understand why it might be used to heighten flavors) because someone in the know said to drop the ingredient. When the millet is oozing oil and it is quite solid and frankly, edible when tasted, it is ready. This is roughly reached at 30-35 minutes of cooking. The millet should be soft and edible, with perhaps just a teeny tiny bit of sandiness in it. Turn off the heat. Wrap the millet mixture in banana leaves as you would suman (heat up the leaves first to make them pliable) and tie the ends with thinner strips of banana leaves. Steam this for roughly 80-90 minutes and allow it to cool. Once you unwrap the leaves, you will be treated to a simple, fragrant and simply delicious budbud kabog that well, seems to melt in your mouth. Visually it is clearly made of millet or seeds but the texture is unlike any of the rice versions of suman. I strongly recommend this if you have access to good millet, particularly for readers who reside abroad and can also get banana leaves. I caution against using canned coconut milk as I do not know what the equivalent amount of canned milk approximates the freshly squeezed milk in the recipe above… you could experiment if that’s the only coconut milk you can get. Enjoy! And thanks to the reader from Cebu who has arranged for a half-day tutorial for me from one of the leading commercial manufacturers of budbud in Cebu… I look forward to a day of learning new and delicious native kakanin recipes when I am next in Cebu! Thank you too to reader Toping who so graciously offered to send me a whole bunch of budbud kabog from his hometown in Leyte…