I bet 99% of Marketmanilaâ€™s readers have no clue what the hard reddish/purplish balls in the photo above are. I certainly couldnâ€™t have guessed. My closest thought was that they were dehydrated sago, which is pretty close, but I only arrived at that answer in the context of a binignit or guinataan being prepared by the cook. I was so intrigued that I immediately snapped a photo before they were plunged into the binignit then set about to identify them properly and do this post. These hard pearls of whatever were brought the other day from Toledo, Cebu, on the Western coast of Cebu. The cook described them as coming from a buli tree, a type of palm and that the process to make the landing was a difficult one.
A bit of research yielded this editorial from the Cebu SunStar newspaper that accurately describes the manufacturing process and our cook kept nodding as I tried to translate the article to her: First, a buli palm is felled. The hard core is reached after breaking open the trunk. The hard core is chopped into shards that are dried very well and pulverized by hand into a flour, a process that requires several rounds of pounding. This is then mixed with water and the product is formed into landangâ€¦ a jelly like textured ingredient that, when dried, is the stuff in the photo above. The color is natural, according to the cook. It is a critical ingredient in binignit in their part of Cebuâ€¦