03 Aug2011

Actually, technically, they are steamed buri palm starch cakes. Buli in Visayan refers to one’s rear end. So I was amused when we came across these rather unusual puto or steamed cakes this morning at a food fair at the Cebu Capitol Building grounds. Puto Buli the vendors referred to them. Landang is a starchy ingredient I have written about before; it is an essential component of a really local guinataan or benignit, and it too is made from buri palm starch.

From what I understand, a buri palm (corypha) only flowers once in its 70-90+ year lifespan, then it dies after that. The trunk is chopped down, the pithy central core is extracted, cut into small chunks, sun-dried and painstakingly pounded to create a buri (buli) palm flour or starch. It is naturally light pinkish in hue. It is a community thing to fell the tree, process the starch, and process it into other ingredients. Buri palms are one of my FAVORITE native trees — they stand majestic, imposing, proud, rigid, strong, stunning… you get the picture. They take a LONG time to grow, so they have fallen out of favor with “landscapers” and are a disappearing sight. They thrive near coastal areas, particularly Visayan islands, and frankly are much better looking than coconut trees. I guess if I were to be a tree, a buri palm would be a good choice. :)

Back to the steamed cakes… The vendor hat a large container of buri or buli flour or starch, already apparently sweetened (not sure if it had any coconut milk at all, probably not), and they simply scooped this into makeshift pans made out of tins that had rough holes punched into their bottoms…

…these were then steamed in makeshift steamers made for water boiling in a large pot, covered with foil, with holes punched in the foil, the makeshift pans on top of the holes, covered with banana leaves and weighed down with a plate?! How’s that for ingenuity? Kind of like native MacGyver does butt bun cakes…

The cakes expand a bit when cooked, are lifted off their steamers with a strip of banana leaf, turned over and “tack-tacked” (translation please?? gently pounded or knocked on the table) onto the mat of banana leaves, wrapped up and sold for PHP5 each. Yup, PHP5 or 11 U.S. cents per piece. They were a pleasant surprise, similar to a puto made from steamed rice in style, but with the meatier, grainier buri starch. It had a bit of bite, a very subtle but pleasant flavor, hardly any sweetness… very satisfying.

Personally, I would serve this with a palm sugar sauce perhaps flavored with citrus rind to jazz it up a bit, but I was thrilled to have “discovered” these simple and tasty puto buli today… :)

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Glady says:

    Interesting. We don’t have puto buli here in Western Visayas, at least I haven’t seen one yet. Buri palm also bears fruit we call budyawi. It’s usually steamed and it’s white meat is fleshy and very chewy. I don’t see much of it anymore though.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 5:40 pm

     
  2. titabuds says:

    MM, I don’t know of any other blogger who highlights traditional Filipino food, and educates us about it, as well as you do. Unfortunately, we don’t have puto buli in Bicol and no Bikolano will ever sell anything named as such. To us, ‘buli’ refers to some other body part. Different to the Visayan buli but ‘close’. ;)
    Love the picture of the cans with holes punched on them. Pinoy na Pinoy.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 5:53 pm

     
  3. Clarissa says:

    “tack-tacked” – knocked out of the container (by pounding)? :)

    Reminds me of the putong lucban with regards to shape and color which up to now, I haven’t discovered how to make. This is cooked almost the same way as the puto bumbong! But in different containers :D

    Aug 3, 2011 | 6:02 pm

     
  4. Footloose says:

    That’s also the couscous-like granular texture you want when making puto-bumbong from ground and drained pirurutong.

    There was this ill-tempered ancient lady who grudgingly sold strips of buli to us school kids for our handicraft projects four houses away from our house. She processed them herself from drying the fronds, separating them from the spine, splitting them into strips of uniform width, dyeing some of them. The most interesting step was she smoothed them by winding them round a hardwood cylinder which she rolled to and fro under a hardwood board on top of which she balanced on her two feet while holding on to something for support and to keep her balance much like an elephant on a teeter-totter. They call the set-up bulihan and was principally used for smoothing sheets of cloth in the olden days. Few and far between if you ever see an example today.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 7:59 pm

     
  5. Mimi says:

    Tapped?

    There was a roadside puto vendor (many moons ago) on the way to Tabaco, Albay who steamed the puto inside coconut half shells.

    I usually hear ‘buli’ as a curse word when we visited Bicol.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:04 pm

     
  6. GayeN says:

    I love buri palm too. We call them “silag” here in Pangasinan. I’m not aware if they use the starch from buri here but we use the sap to make “kapasiet” – buri palm sugar shaped into small cakes.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:09 pm

     
  7. satomi says:

    MM you’re funny. “tack tacked”?!! hahaha – tap the bottom of the mold to release the steamed cake :)
    I wish I’m eating that now for breakfast instead of my boring cereal :(

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:23 pm

     
  8. millet says:

    that’s an interesting find. in surigao, there’s a suman called “palagsing” that’s also made of sago starch, palm sugar and very young buco strips. pardon my ignorance, MM, but i’ve always been confused – are buri and sago the same?

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:23 pm

     
  9. natie says:

    at first I thought it was puto bumbong–dry, chewy, and grainy tasting.

    Glady, I heard there’s still budyawi in wet markets (sa Iloilo). it was one of our favorite street food during grade school and HS days.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:28 pm

     
  10. Mimi says:

    Millet: sago is from tapioca/ cassava/ kamoteng kahoy.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:30 pm

     
  11. Gej says:

    Wow! While the illustration you linked to gave a good idea of how the plant looks, would love to see a Pinoy picture of this palm (the images found in google are confusing – some are clearly not this palm).
    I think “tak-tak” is the onomatopeic word derived from the sound of two hard objects (one of them a container) struck against each other to draw out the contents.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:30 pm

     
  12. lee says:

    @Glady and Natie. It has been years since I recall chewing on little boiled globes of starchy and chewy budyawi.

    Buri palms are majestic and towering giants. I still see a few trees whenever I travel south of Bacolod.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:45 pm

     
  13. Footloose says:

    @Mimi, Millet: sago is from tapioca/ cassava/ kamoteng kahoy.

    Not all of them. In fact, genuine sago starch is obtained and processed from the sago palm, Metroxylon sagu, by exactly the same procedures as MM outlined above. Can understand Millet’s ambivalence, we might even be talking of the exact same type of palm tree.

    Aug 3, 2011 | 8:54 pm

     
  14. Meg says:

    this is so interesting. i never learned about this in school, very educational indeed. how i wish i can have a taste of that puto buli :)

    Aug 3, 2011 | 9:44 pm

     
  15. betty q. says:

    OH….tack-tack! This I know! I once had to explain to our pastry cook who was working on line what I needed done! So, I told him to …UNMOULD the dessert by flipping it over and giving it a gentle tap on the table to release it! Of course, it is not a one word description for tack-tack! I also told hin we had a way of doing it back home but it involved MAJOR wrist action and I did not want him to sustain any wrist injury!

    Aug 3, 2011 | 9:58 pm

     
  16. rural_foodie says:

    it looks like a Puto Balanghoy..

    Aug 3, 2011 | 11:14 pm

     
  17. Carla says:

    I’m so curious. What is the texture like? :)

    Aug 3, 2011 | 11:56 pm

     
  18. Guits says:

    @Mimi: I was reminded of the same puto you mentioned. I grew up in Tabaco, Albay and I remember my Mom sending us to buy “puto sa bagol (coconut shell)” for merienda. The puto was made with rice flour (not the malagkit kind) and in the puto’s center was bukayo. It was steamed as you said, so only the bagol with the eye was used. You know how the coconut shell usually has three eyes on one end? The eye is where the steam comes in to cook the puto.

    Aug 4, 2011 | 12:49 am

     
  19. Lava Bien says:

    Buli hehehe nice one.
    Funny funny in Mexican Spanish from our Filipino food:
    Puto = Male prostitute
    Mamon = Homosexual tendencies
    Panocha = Vagina (Filipino Panocha is so much sweeter, theirs is on a little salty side hehehe)

    Imagine the smile when our Mexican friends come over and are served “putos” hahaha “quires putos guey? LOL (Guey es un toro sin huevos or cojones, un castrado pero usar con un cariño) LOL

    Aug 4, 2011 | 1:57 am

     
  20. kAi says:

    I have to agree with rural_foodie… it does look like Puto Balanghoy, the ones I had have latik syrup poured on top, which eventually gets soaked up by the puto.

    Aug 4, 2011 | 2:54 am

     
  21. Footloose says:

    @BettyQ, Yes, the same technique one uses for coaxing the marrow out of a bone section in the dire absence of sterling marrow spoon. Also resorted to to initiate flow from a fresh bottle of ketchup. The expression “he puts ketchup on everything” is one sad outcome of this table manoeuver.

    Aug 4, 2011 | 4:46 am

     
  22. cumin says:

    Very interesting, haven’t seen this before. More than ever, I wish I were back in Cebu to sample these unusual goodies.

    Tack-tacked: my brain immediately swung into “tak-tak-tak sa Ajinamoto” — complete with tune!

    Aug 4, 2011 | 8:23 am

     
  23. psychomom says:

    the improvised steamers remind me of my grandmother who used different sizes tin cans as stands when she steamed food. no single use implement in her household.

    Aug 4, 2011 | 8:26 am

     
  24. Richard says:

    Hello MM, is the food fair at Cebu Capitol Building grounds you mentioned a regular event? Thanks

    Aug 4, 2011 | 9:23 am

     
  25. Marketman says:

    Richard, it happens once a year, for the city’s founding day, 442nd year for Cebu if I recall correctly… and it is on again today, I just went back to order 50 puto bulis from a VERY BUSY STALL…

    I like the tap gently. Or rap the tin on the counter a few times to loosen the cake…

    Aug 4, 2011 | 10:29 am

     
  26. Junb says:

    There’s a lot of similarities of our native kakanin with our Asian neighbors. The way we cook, ingredients, taste and even the name. http://ms.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fail:YosriPengukusPutuPiring.jpg

    It’s indeed a small world even during the earlier days :)

    Aug 4, 2011 | 10:43 am

     
  27. millet says:

    re: “tack-tacked” – there’s a popular streetfood here in davao called “puto taktak” – it’s simple cassava puto cooked in halved milk cans lined with banana leaves. when you order, the vendor simply takes a can from the steamer and “taktaks” the puto onto a waiting paper or plastic bag.

    footloose, thanks for the clarification…er, for agreeing that it is indeed confusing!

    Aug 4, 2011 | 11:27 am

     
  28. millet says:

    come to think of it, the puto taktak looks exactly like the ones in your pics!

    Aug 4, 2011 | 11:35 am

     
  29. Kasseopeia says:

    I never knew those “puto kasaba” were called “puto taktak”. I saw them in the Maypajo market in Caloocan, sold for P5 per piece cooked in what looks like a can of Bear Brand (small). These looked like shaved/grated cassavas mixed with brown sugar. The top (bottom, actually – near the vent holes) is where the sugar congregates and creates almost a crust of sweetness. The rest is not so sweet. It needs to be eaten hot, tho. As it gets colder, it gets drier and tougher.

    Was wondering if the texture of the Puto Buli is akin to the puto taktak… or maybe chewier, like a very resistant mochi or almost like tikoy?

    Will travel for food, surely! =)

    Aug 4, 2011 | 12:13 pm

     
  30. jakbkk says:

    similar in cooking style to the PUTO BUMBONG…one of my all-time favorites..

    Aug 4, 2011 | 12:34 pm

     
  31. Lambchop says:

    How interesting! I’ve always wondered how these puto bulis were made and now I know haha. My mom got one from the Pilar, Camotos booth and it was HUGE! It literally looked like a big bowling ball. We had to break it like bread to eat it. I agree with you on the syrup/sauce to make it a little more tasty. Citrus would be nice. And I would be happy with just sticky coconut sauce. :)

    Aug 4, 2011 | 12:39 pm

     
  32. pyangga says:

    Isn’t the term “buli” an Ilonggo term? In Bisaya, buli is “lobot”….
    Anyways, this makes me miss home…the vendor would usually do his rounds of selling this along with bananacue and toron between 2 pm – 3 pm….

    Aug 4, 2011 | 12:49 pm

     
  33. quiapo says:

    Many of these foods will disappear, and your archives will become even more of a treasure trove; there is so much diversity that is fast disappearing.

    Aug 4, 2011 | 1:01 pm

     
  34. MP says:

    First time I’ve seen or heard of puto buli but I’d like to try it, if only for the thought that the tree the flour came from is already dead! It looks so dry, though, like polvoron that requires a cold drink to push it down the throat. Well, this one will definitely be great with ice-cold coke…

    Aug 4, 2011 | 7:21 pm

     
  35. Sam says:

    Buli, in Bicol, never fails to elicit a chuckle! Titabuds, you are naughty!!! I have never tried buri palm cakes, and the pics are yummy! MM, you never cease to amaze me with your posts on Filipino gastronomical delights!!! I am dying to see a Marketman recipe book. Soon???

    Aug 4, 2011 | 7:33 pm

     
  36. JanJan says:

    I always learn something reading your posts – this cake sounds great, and so special! Although, I admit I thought it would be pretty fun if they were actual “ass” cakes ;)

    Aug 5, 2011 | 4:15 am

     
  37. Footloose says:

    O/T I was just wondering about the pitiful appearance of a piglet that Michael Ruhlman roasted here http://ruhlman.com/2011/08/how-to-roast-a-suckling-pig/
    and cannot help but compare it with my remembered images of the roasted piglets you have posted, specially here:
    http://www.marketmanila.com/archives/anthony-bourdain-in-cebu
    His looks as though it had been malignantly abused and its suffering frozen in its final posture. Yours glow and glisten in peaceful repose and appears to be still savoring the tender loving care it was lavished with.

    Aug 5, 2011 | 7:15 am

     
  38. moni says:

    MM, did the seller say where her regular stall can be found? It will help us locate the roadside stall and buy some puti buli next time we’re in Cebu. BTW, hello from Honolulu. This is off topic but I had kalua pig sandwich for lunch. It was good but your zubuchon sandwich is far superior.

    Aug 5, 2011 | 10:41 am

     
  39. john says:

    I see landang processed in huge quantities by the roadside in my hometown. In the unprocessed state, it looks like the bark of the tree.

    Aug 5, 2011 | 11:11 am

     
  40. Dodi says:

    Forgive me for a little diversion MM: I am in Cebu now for a weekend getaway and after a few minutes hotel rest, my friend and I went to Zubuchon Mango for lunch right away. It was a fantastic experience! My friend and I consumed almost a kilo of Zubuchon lechon, had an order of seaweed salad (rarely have it in Manila), and 4 huge iba shakes!!! Of course, it included the heavenly chicharon!! Bought pasalubongs as well, marmalades, chicharon and jams…oh I musn’t forget the super sarap suman budbud! LOL! I must say MM, your Zubuchon is enough reason to fly to Cebu..congratulations!
    Do you think your restaurant can feature artisanal delicacies like this puto buli?

    Aug 5, 2011 | 4:22 pm

     
  41. corrine says:

    Will this be offered in Zubuchon restos soon? I love the budbud kabog. Hope that you will also offer Sister’s jams soon. The calamansi jam was so good! :)

    Aug 5, 2011 | 10:39 pm

     
  42. Lava Bien says:

    @ Dodi, did the seaweed salad come with any pork at all? Or can you order the seaweed salad as a vegetarian? Thanks.

    Aug 5, 2011 | 10:43 pm

     
  43. Joy says:

    that looks cool. I never heard of that before.

    Aug 7, 2011 | 10:01 am

     
  44. Dodi says:

    @Lava: Three different kinds of seaweeds served with onion/tomatoes vinaigrette on the side. No pork on it. And yes, you can order the seaweed salad as a vegetarian.

    Aug 7, 2011 | 4:38 pm

     
  45. alex says:

    This is truly a food depicting Phillippine culture!!! I will try this if I see one!!!

    Aug 8, 2011 | 12:00 pm

     
  46. cebuana101 says:

    buli is where landang comes from…:)
    ididnt expect that you make puto as well..

    Aug 9, 2011 | 10:59 pm

     
  47. el_jefe says:

    Is the texture the same as that of sago palm starch suman? Sago palm is called ambugong or ambulong in aklan or in panay…cooked sago palm is gummy and they add up huge quantities of young coconut or ”alangan” or ”gumaan” to make it more palatable…and also sago palm starch is darker and reddish…I heard that buri (Buli in Tagalog) palm can really be a good source of starch but one needs to cut down the tree before it flowers…otherwise the starch content woulb be used up by the palm during flowering or fruiting stage…and im betting it would really entail ”Man Power” to cut down and cut open the Humungous Buri Palm! hehe!

    Aug 10, 2011 | 6:56 am

     
  48. Jing_Bacolod says:

    in Bacolod we call this, PUTO LANSON…with mantikilya on top. best eaten when hot. NAMIT. :)

    Aug 17, 2011 | 2:24 pm

     
  49. chris says:

    somewhere along the sidestreets of silang, cavite we saw this puto taktak made of cassava, placed in milk cans and steamed, then buttered or star “margarined” for that matter, then rolled in muscovado sugar. sarap for only P5.00.

    Nov 6, 2011 | 11:43 pm

     
 

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