30 Apr2008

Corn Meal, Bogo Market

by Marketman


Cebuanos consume quite a bit of corn. I suspect that is because there wasn’t much rice grown on the island, so to supplement rice which was “imported” from other islands in the archipelago, locals turned to corn during difficult times and eventually it became a natural part of their diet. They had to get their carbohydrates from somewhere… Some folks in Cebu mix corn and rice in one pot; and sometimes, they simply boil up some corn meal, somewhat similar to grits or polenta, though polenta is a much finer grind of corn…


With rice prices skyrocketing and costing some 50+% more than just two months ago, I was curious about the uses of corn and relative price of the grain at the Bogo market. The best quality corn was similar in price to the lowest priced rice and there were several grades and size of grind for both yellow and white corn. Apparently, white corn is considered superior to the yellow corn. I bought a couple of kilos of the white “laon” (high rising) corn and brought it back to Manila.


The crew, mostly Cebuano, were thrilled to see the white corn and a couple of days later, boiled up some water, dropped some white cornmeal into the water and let it boil for a few minutes until the corn had absorbed all of the water it looked somewhat like rice, really. No added salt at all. It was rather bland, but a perfect foil for the two guinamos sauces described in the previous post, along with a huge bowl of utan bisaya or tinowa, a soup with lots and lots of fresh vegetables and sometimes a piece of fresh or dried fish. I am not a HUGE fan of grits or boiled corn meal, but I can see this as an excellent base or foil for really saucy pinoy dishes like adobo, or spanish influenced mechado and menudo




  1. Roberto Vicencio says:

    It has long been known that corn almost eqauls rice as a staple in the Bisayas. It is just too bad that the practice of doing so has never been brought to Manila and given a chance to be tried by the public. Maybe a Bisayan menu restaurant could come up and give it a go.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 4:20 pm


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  3. Ley says:

    Corn is perfect with tinolang manok bisaya. Am reminded though of a funny Bisaya joke about a politician who, in his campaign speech, invited his constituents to a dinner in his house. His speech (in English) ended: “but i have to warn you that in our house, our rice is corn.”

    Apr 30, 2008 | 6:10 pm

  4. Avic says:

    I love corn meal and guinamos from Cebu. Is corn meal available here? If somebody has info on where we can buy it, please let us know. Thanks.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 6:41 pm

  5. Susan says:

    Is “utan” the ilocano dish “dinengdeng”? I’m sorry I’m not sure how to spell it, but it looks so much like it.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 7:51 pm

  6. ayen says:

    There was a segment in Jessica Soho’s show where they featured that Cebuanos may not at all be that much affected of the rice shortage as they have corn instead of rice. In that segment, it was shown that it is quite tedious to produce corn meal. I would love to have a taste of this. :)

    Apr 30, 2008 | 8:26 pm

  7. rachel says:

    i love corn in any form.i remember our neighbor when i was young would mix corn grits with their rice to stretch it, my friend hated it but i was always loooking forward to being invited for lunch because i loved it.now that i’m grown up i still like corn whether it’s grits, polenta, tortilla, or masa for tamales.we usually would roast corn during summer when sweet corn is abundant and at their best.it’s better than boiling it because you don’t lose the nutrients and flavor to he water.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 8:33 pm

  8. The Knittymommy says:

    My mom told me about this some time ago. They used to serve this in lieu of rice, when there was a rice shortage after the war. I am glad to see that this is still availabe in Cebu.

    The price of rice and corn is sky-rocketting here in the US. The Asians are really feeling the pinch in their staple. The Americans are feeling it too as the price of corn is driving up the price of a lot of other staples like bread, flour, and other that are derived from the grain crops.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 9:48 pm

  9. natie says:

    love that bowl of vegetables!! maybe i’ll cook that for lunch today..when i’m stuck in a menu rut, this site inspires and encourages..thanks,MM..as usual, lovely photos.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 9:49 pm

  10. angelbride says:

    Great features all the time MM, like Natie said, “this site inspires”. I’ve been reading your blog since the day i can’t remember. I stumbled into it when trying to find a Filipino recipe on the net. I crave all the food you talk about here. I remember in the late 80’s, i have a neighbor who would have cornmeal for lunch instead of rice because it was more available for them and is cheaper, and we would exchange our baon in school because i like corn and she wants rice. Memorable.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 11:50 pm

  11. betty q. says:

    If you want to make it a bit snazzy…and you have leftover adobo or mechado or menudo…boil the cornmeal (POLENTA CONSISTENCY!) and add a bit of butter for taste. I usually boil it in chicken stock to give it a lift. Let it cool. then form into OVAL patties. Make a deep well in the center and add your adobo or whatever you have and shape it adding more polenta to cover the filling. Wrap it in CORNHUSK (soaked in water for about 30 minutes). Then place the packages on the BARBECUE. Grill until a bit charred. MAKES GREAT PICNIC FOOD!!!

    For the cornhusk…peel the corn LEAVING the entire husk intact. …just remove the corn..soak the husk in water…add your filling and then reshape it…so it takes the shape of the corn…When your friends open the cornhusk, they will be so surprised!!!

    May 1, 2008 | 2:13 am

  12. sonianer says:

    great idea betty q! you have so many brilliant ideas and you are so utterly generous sharing them. would love to meet you one day — you must be one great lady!

    May 1, 2008 | 5:33 am

  13. dhayL says:

    Is that the cooked cornmeal photo up top? You’re right MM, when it’s cooked it looks so much like boiled white rice!

    May 1, 2008 | 5:40 am

  14. betty q. says:

    This is soooo neat, MM!…have met so many people through your blog!!! can’t count on my fingers anymore…have to use the toes!!!THANK YOU EVER SO MUCH!

    Would love to meet you as well, Sonianer. Are you here in the Northwest? If you are in California, we might be going there in the summer…hopefully get the chance to meet my Kitchen Fairy Godmom, Maria Clara….also maybe Alilay, Ted and hopefully Silly Lolo…What do you say, Silly Lolo?

    May 1, 2008 | 5:50 am

  15. Ted says:

    betty Q, where in cali are you planning to visit in the summer, Im in NorCal, between Sacramento and San Francisco.

    I’m about to try your hainanese chicken this weekend. Also still not able to get cheaper dried scallops. But will soon try that xo sauce recipe you sent as soon as i get the scallops.

    May 1, 2008 | 7:46 am

  16. betty q. says:

    Hi Ted: My husband just loves long-distance driving every summer. Kids don’t want to see Disneyland anymore. So we will cruise on along the coast and see places we haven’t been to like Santa Monica. So passing by Northern California …no sweat at all!…It boggles my mind that there is no BULK cheap dried scallops there…of all places San Francisco?

    Send me your address, Ted …I’ll mail it to you or have someone bring it over there…have a relative in Frisco coming over here next month…

    May 1, 2008 | 8:48 am

  17. wil-b cariaga says:

    I have tried eating this rice with corn meal in Cagayan de oro
    it is really nice, we ate it for breakfast with “chorizo” and egg, and the starch is very memorable, it looks nice too, white rice with yellow bits of corn, it could be a new fad in restos. . .

    May 1, 2008 | 9:31 am

  18. lojet says:

    I make grits a little soupy, add butter, a little salt and lots of black pepper and eat it with little links sausages or the frozen brown and serve sausages and it’s delicious.

    May 1, 2008 | 9:53 am

  19. sylvia says:

    betty Q and Ted, can I join your little get-together of MM fans? I enjoy reading your helpful tips & recipes, betty q. Ted, whereabouts are you? I’m in Sacramento.

    May 1, 2008 | 12:22 pm

  20. edee says:

    hello US based kabayans, we’ll be visiting California this June, just a 2week stay….will go to disneyland, attend my cousin’s wedding(she’s in Ventura County) and then hubby wants to drive to San Francisco, any suggestions on PLACES to EAT and do?, this will be our first time to the USA, and just reading about what to do and where to go in California is overwhelming!!! :) …. and just like sylvia said, would love to meet other MM fans there, if timing is right :)

    May 1, 2008 | 5:57 pm

  21. The Steak Lady says:

    i love “humay mais”! i always make sure to bring back to Manila. I was initially surprised when my helpers mentioned that it wasn’t available here, only corn for animal feeds?! These posts are so great MM, making me homesick!=)

    May 1, 2008 | 6:44 pm

  22. Ted says:

    Sylvia, i live in Fairfield, Edee, when visiting SFO, places to see are as follows: Golden gate bridge, crooked street, pier 39, twin peaks, powel and market street where the cable car turntable is. By driving to these places, you get to go around the whole of San francisco already. Place to eat, if you like chinese food, Chinatown is the best place, so many places to eat there, just park and walk the 5 blocks of Grant street, its just a block or two from powel and market (Market and powel st is the heart of downtown SFO, everthing is within walking distance from there). If you like fine dining, there’s a few resto’s at Embarcadero (Scotts seafood) and downtown SFO (Michael Mina, Kuleto’s, etc..). There’s Westfield Mall on Market and Powel If you like to do window shopping, there’s plenty of restos there too, i believe Charles Phan? of the well known Slanted Door (vietnamese food) opened a place there too. Bring a wind breaker or a light jacket when coming to SFO even in June.

    May 1, 2008 | 10:03 pm

  23. Ted says:

    Edee, also if you want to visit Alcatraz, you need to buy tickets ahead of time specially in June (2weeks ahead is good). And you would want to buy the ticket that will actually bring you to the Alcatraz island, not go around “The Rock” ;-) There’s one and only one boat concessionaire that will bring you to the Island, and i forgot which one (the original one lost the bidding 2 years ago) just google it.

    May 1, 2008 | 10:16 pm

  24. edee says:

    Thanks Ted for all the info! …really can’t wait for June, just want to have 2weeks of warmth and sunshine :) ….it’s supposed to be summer now here in Ireland, but we’re still in our winter clothes, we’re all hoping that we’ll have a good summer here if not at least a semblance of summer :)

    May 1, 2008 | 10:34 pm

  25. betty q. says:

    Hey Ted…thanks for the tour tips as well…I’ll suggest to my dear husband to take our time seeing Frisco…

    Edee…you’re not the only one in winter clothes still! We’re here in Vancouver and I’m still wearing my bulky sweatshirts!

    Sylvia…would love to meet you as well..hopefully, we get to go as soon as my knee surgeon gives me the “green light” to travel!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH, MM! I really enjoy interacting with your other readers and commenters. SILLY LOLO is right….Blog Awards should have a category for us commenters and readers!!!

    May 2, 2008 | 3:06 am

  26. natie says:

    what??? a ”meet and greet” soiree?? that’s fun. i love the fact that we meet kindred souls thru this site. enjoy the get-together, betty q…hope the knee is better. i had my arthroscopy 2004. it hardly bothers me now–

    uh oh–out of topic..thanks for the space, MM.

    May 2, 2008 | 5:32 am

  27. Toping says:

    I love corn! It’s an acquired taste, though, with a smell that can be off-putting to the uninitiated. I’ll take it over rice any time. It’s super filling too!

    May 2, 2008 | 12:05 pm

  28. sylvia says:

    Edee, assuming you are a foodie, you might want to visit the Ferry Building Marketplace on Embarcadero St. It’s like foodie heaven and on Saturday mornings, there’s a big farmers market there. The farmers market is also open on weekdays but Saturday is the biggest.

    May 8, 2008 | 12:21 am

  29. icemanila says:

    HI MM, where can I buy cornmeal here in Manila, what we have here are grade 2 I think and are sold for animal feeds. I looked at them, they looked inedible since there’s a lot of foreign mixed to them.

    How about those in Cebu, can we compare the purity of the grain? Please advise. More Power

    May 9, 2008 | 3:30 pm

  30. diday says:

    Maiz, as we call it at home in Cebu, is what i think the Cebuano version of the Couscous. My mother’s helper would cook it ‘instant couscous’ style in a ‘kulon’ as we pronouce it ‘kuon’. Boil the water then add the maiz for 5 to 6 minutes and when ready fluff with a fork and serve. Maiz is best with ‘utan bisaya’, ‘humba’, ‘kinilaw’, ‘paklay’ and other Cebuano recipes. My father, who was born in Bogo, would remind the helper to buy the #16 Maiz.

    Oct 12, 2008 | 5:29 am

  31. diday says:

    Guinamos from Pulang Bato, Bogo, Cebu is the best. Unfortunately, Australian quarantine frowns on anyone bringing this type of ‘delicacy’.

    Oct 12, 2008 | 5:36 am


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