Bud-Bud Kabog and Malagkit / Millet and Glutinous Rice Cakes

The best bud-bud kabog I have tasted budbud1in 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 generations…

Millet seed may conjure up images of your friendly parakeet, budbud2and 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 relative… you know those panicums and setarias, they all sleep with each other…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 rear… 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 hacienda’s kitchen by a fat cook who perfected her recipe over the years. It is really good and you don’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 budbud3photo 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 “classic” version I suppose and would pair well with a ripe mango. I can only eat 2 or these in one sitting as well… At PHP20.00 per piece, the budbud seem pricey…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.


17 Responses

  1. bud bud ug tabliya hmm
    tried to do this once rice got soggy
    but wont give up
    this is my favourite breakfast growing up in Cebu.

  2. hmmm…. suman! Reading this, I realized how I miss the ones made in Mindoro, they are square in shape and tastes really good with some crunchy latik on the side which enhances the experience due to the difference in texture. While typing, I just rememberd what they were called! “Suman sa Lihiya” but come to think of it, is it safe to eat? If I remember my tagalog right, Lihiya means “lye” which also means “Liquid SOSA”… ugh!

  3. actually my favorite suman is the sumang balinghoy from Mindoro. Its actually made from cassava and absolutely delicious. But of course the tragedy involving the schoolkids are making people paranoid.

  4. Lihiya is lye which is literally an alkaline solution rich in potassium carbonate that is made by leeching water through ashes from a wood fire. You can also buy a chemical version from drugstores apparently. Be careful, misuse can have dire consequences. However, some quick research suggests that lye is used around the world in various baked items including the neat glaze on Pretzels in the US and elsewhere. Here, lihiya is used in lots of rice based desserts or snacks to improve color, flavor and texture. I have not used it myself but would be scared unless I learned from an expert.

    The poisoning caused by the cassava snacks in Bohol was traced to some white insecticide or poison that was accidentally added to the dessert (in lieu of flour). Case closed, but terribly unfortunate. I love cassava snacks too and will continue to eat them.

  5. This is what delicious suman looks like… what can I say, maybe just “grow up?” Ever hear of Freud and his rear end theories? Let’s not go there. Just skip this page in future if it really bothers you.

  6. nice! i’m finishing up my rice chapter and just doing last minute research on budbod (or bud-bud). interesting stuff you’ve got here. dito rin there’s a prejudice against millet, but there are so many fun recipes you can do with it, and the kids love the crunch — mine like theirs in scones. re: the lye, it’s actually been used since the middle ages as a leavening agent, but can be poisonous if ingested in large amounts. i’m currently experimenting with using other leaveners in our recipes that call for lye water…. we shall see if they turn out good.

  7. just to share another food find – you can actually
    purchase lye (the food grade variety) in liquid form in
    “the little store” off Wilson st in Mandaluyong and “the
    big little store” off Gilmore st in QC. I have not actually used it so I can’t comment on its usage but at least you know where it’s available!

  8. Oh Man, Suman!

    I realized I have just become my Dad and those old fogeys who run in the morning and end up in the market. I’m a suki of this suman. It’s a compelling reason to wake up early on a Saturday. These things sell fast (I buy minimum of 10 and can snort 2 budbud kabogs under a minute after a 45-minute run around Ayala Triangle) and Carl (the husband of Maribel I think) and his gang are already gone by 11am.

    Great too that the suman is sold beside a ripe mango stall. Talk about a wonderful marriage of food! I went home and opened a tetra brik of Coconut cream to drizzle over a plate of suman and mango. Good heavens. The angels sang and the skies parted.

    These little logs of joy are now sold at the Legaspi Market on Sundays. Marketman – could you write about the Sunday market too?

  9. Gigi, these are a favorite of mine. Will try to check out the Sunday market. After my usual rounds on Saturday I usually have an oversupply of everything so I don’t dare go shopping on a Sunday…but for Marketmanila readers I may oblige!

  10. Goodness! Talking about my favorite snack! My mom is absolutely good in making suman or bud bod, be it malagkit or kabug, which i have not eaten since ’03 when i last visited pinas; i wanted so much to make it myself, but just can’t find these millet seeds here, not even in the asian supermarkets, so i make do with bud bod malagkit, which i iether flavor with ginger or vanilla. cassava is also lovely, but more often i hurt my hands shredding it, so i just dream of the ones my late brother used to make. he was so good at it, and if i remember right he used to add calamansi juice to his bud bod cassava and it tasted heaven. i also remember a neighbor back in banilad, dumaguete city who made bud bod from gabi (i particularly come from “purok gabi”, banilad so i guess that explains). anybody tasted this? it’s a totally another experience guys, but then i guess it must take a lot of effort as gabi can get so sticky.

  11. Hi there Im not sure what the actual name is, I just know it as sticky rice and looks like the pic above wrapped in a banana leaf. Anyway, I have looked everywhere and cannot find a recipe for it. Would anyone care to share? I would be very greatful. Thanks

  12. Hi, I’m an Indian who has just moved to makati a month back. I live very close to greenbelt. Need to get some millet seeds for my kid . Cud u pls tell me if i can get it in Landmarket or SM Mall… and what it is called over here….

  13. Warning about lye water or lihiya.
    This is a poison. Do not use it or eat it.
    Please be informed about this ingredient before you consume it. I do not believe people really know what it is.
    Find an alternative.

  14. i heard (rather, did i rightly hear?) that millet was the staple of early cebuanos.the explanation is, cebu is a dry island. no vast wet, arable lands for rice. anyway, would you know where i could find these seeds or seedlings? maybe it would be the solution for rice shortages. i tasted bubdbod kabug in bogo, cebu because it is their delicacy. tastes good with milled corn.

  15. lalot, apparently, Pigafetta’s chronicle of Magellan’s and crew meals on the island of Cebu included millet or a similar grain, so yes, I think it was an early ingredient. Well before corn. And rice was probably brought from elsewhere…



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