Puto Bumbong a la Marketman


Thanks to everyone that left a comment or emailed me following my post on my newly acquired puto bumbong steamer. The suggestions and tips were extremely helpful. I also consulted several cookbooks but I wasn’t entirely happy with the recipes I found… either they assumed I knew too much about making the puto bumbong (the simplest recipes are often the hardest), or they assumed I knew nothing at all but didn’t clearly detail the necessary steps for success. So after some trial and error, here are Marketman’s recipe and tips for puto bumbong, made more of the old-fashioned way, with fine ingredients and a desire to learn and preserve a classic kakanin… As with puto, the deiicacies with the fewest ingredients are often the hardest to get right (I gave up on puto for the time being)…


First, the mixtures of rice… Here I can best counsel that it may take you a few tries to find the mixture you like best. Fresh glutinous rice is stickier than old glutinous rice, I think. Some sticky rices are more sticky than others. The mixture I settled on was roughly this proportion: 2 cups of malagkit or tapol, upland Mindoro variety, and quite sticky and very fresh, 1 cup of pirurutong or purple upland Mindoro sticky rice, and 1/2 cup of regular everyday eating rice, in this case, sinandomeng. You may choose to increase the regular rice to 3/4 of a cup if you prefer your puto bumbong to be less dense and chewy. Rinse this mixture briefly under cold water and remove hulls or other impurities. Then soak in several cups of water to just cover the rice grains, overnight or roughly 8-10 hours. If you are just as inclined to follow a short cut recipe that calls for the exclusion of pirurutong and addition of purple food coloring instead, stop reading this post NOW and pinch yourself until it hurts. Shame on you! After the soaking, take the mixture, mostly drained of water to the wet market and get it ground up there, or grind it up at home if you have a rice grinder. I find that a whirl in the food processor does NOT do the trick.


Bring the resulting pale lavender sludge home in a bag and wrap it with cacha or cheese cloth and hang it until the mass dries out, at least 4-6 hours. It will be quite dense and solid. Now use a large cheese grater to break up the rice into fluffy little flour like bits (though they will denser and bigger than flour). The mixture needs to be fluffed and aerated and fondled with your fingers to the right lightness. The commercial vendors mixture is quite dry and extremely light and airy and this helps them save on cost as well, coaxing the maximum rise from the minimum amount of rice. Fret not if the mixture starts to smell like it is fermenting… that happens after a few hours and it will be fine when cooked. But do not let it turn sour which will happen if you wait too long… this is the reason puto and other rice cakes have that distinct slightly acidic or sour taste or aftertaste…it’s part of the experience.


Next add about two inches of water your steamer and let it come to a gentle boil. Heat up your bamboo tubes on the steamer. Remove the bamboo tube, add a dab of butter (most use margarine) to the top end and perfect your wrist swirl to coat the inside of the tube with melted butter. Add the rice mixture without packing it down and steam it until cooked. Ours took a LONG time, which I only finally figured out was due to the TINY hole at the end of the bamboo tube. Commercial vendors CUT OFF the tapered end and have a huge hole, perhaps 3/4 of an inch in diameter at EACH END of the bamboo tube. How they prevent the mixture from falling out one end is still beyond me at this point. At the last minute, turn the tube over to finish off the cooking of the other end of the puto bumbong.


Extract the delicacy with a skewer or knife, or if you want to do it with a flourish, tap it on a counter and jerk it firmly until the puto bumbong comes out, hopefully, relatively gracefully. And if you are thinkng poopy thoughts, banish them from your mind right NOW. Top with more butter, lots of brown or white sugar and grated coconut and some add sesame seeds. It is MARVELOUS. I always thought the concoction was rather tasteless on its own, but made with good pirurutong, it is fragrant and delicious. Of course the added sugar and coconut is absolutely necessary to fully experience this… but once you have had the real thing, the commercial versions will never thrill you again… And actually, I am not sure if there is anyone, perhaps Via Mare?, that still serves a traditionally made puto bumbong on a regular commercial basis… if you know of a place, leave a comment here for other readers’ benefit…Thanks!


44 Responses

  1. “And if you are thinkng poopy thoughts, banish them from your mind right NOW…” – well not after you HAD to mention it. LOL! Great post MM.

  2. Glad to know your fingers are still intact… I never realized puto bumbong needs to be “fondled” by the fingers, eew! I think I should go to the market now and get me a bumbong maker and start making my own from now on. I’ve never seen puto bumbong as dark as the ones you made. Beautiful!

  3. Wow….! I will just imagine myself partaking a part of your puto bumbong(my favorite!!!) I can’t see myself going this far in cooking but I truly truly commend you for your virtue of patience and dedication to recreating and sharing a very traditional, authentic, proudly pinoy delicacy!

  4. That’s the best reward for waking up so early in the morning during the nine days misa de gallo.

    as far as I know, the puto bumbong vendors in San Mateo still make it the traditional way with pirurutong but with more margarine than butter.

  5. I’m also interested if there is any restaurant or food shop which sells an authentic puto bumbong. I would like to try the real thing…

  6. this post made me miss the philippines so much… too bad i dont know any place that sells puto bumbong here in las vegas. this is my ultimate kakanin favorite. everytime i go back home to the philippines, it has become somewhat of a tradition to eat early morning breakfast (i fly pal so i arrive really early) at aristocrat on roxas blvd and then puto bumbong for dessert. it is then only after tasting the puto bumbong that i can truly say that i’m back home.

  7. Sounds like hard work. Congratulations again, MM. I prefer bibingka over puto bumbong. But you’re right, it is different.

  8. Nina,

    I am not sure if there are shops or resto who sells puto bumbong. Mostly sells bibingka like Gloria Maris. The best puto bumbong that I have tasted is near Crisostomo street in Manila (near Laong Laan). They make the best and sumptuous puto bumbong near the church. They cost only 25 PHP for regular and 30 PHP for special. The difference between the two is that special has generous serving of cheese and itlog na maalat! Yum! Unfortunately, they only sell during Misa de Gallo. However, you can try those stands near your church for the real thing!

  9. If you place a teaspoon of left over cooked puto bungbomg first, smear it across the hole with a tiny paddle, then add uncooked mixture, none will not fall out of the enlarged hole. Seal top the same way, do not pack down the uncooked mixture. This may solve your problem.

  10. Soooo much work for such yumminess…i am tortured by the fact that this puto bumbong looks so much better than the one I have been indulging all these years. I am pinching myself just for being a “todo-pasa” when it comes to this delicacy. Oh, please, anyone out there who knows where we can buy authentic ones in the Marikina-Pasig-Ortigas area, we beg you to share.

  11. Marketman,

    Wow-talagang nakakamiss ang Pasko sa atin. Lalo na and puto bumbng after the midnight mass along with hot tsaa. Can’t wait till our next Pasko sa Pinas….

  12. Believe na ako sa tiyaga nyo, MM, you dont only research but also do it yourself. It is very rare for guys to be doing what you are doing. Majority will just buy and eat it. I also admire your humility! May your tribe increase.
    We had also been searching for places which sells puto bumbong. My sister saw along the road (in Zapote, Bacoor, Cavite) one day and brought home! Bitin nga kaya lang di makagawa din ng marami yung binilhan niya. She bought 10! Di na nakapaghintay yung iba kaya umalis na!

  13. Try topping the puto bumbong with sugar mixed with toasted sesame seeds (similar to what’s used for palitaw). It brings out all the flavors so much better. It will probably be hard to find places that sell puto bumbong on regular days since the demand for puto bumbong spikes mainly during the Christmas season. Besides, puto bumbong tastes good only when it’s fresh off the maker and it spoils easily. Sadly, the more commercialized a place gets, the traditional food and kakanin makers tend to disappear. Puto bumbong sold in malls and even Christmas bazaars just don’t cut it. So when you find yourself outside a church in the province after misa de gallo and you see a humble vendor expertly wielding a puto bumbong maker making genuinely dark really yummy puto bumbong, sugod!! =D

  14. My Lola passes the galapong through a “bistay” ( looks like a bilao but has bigger holes) to break up the galapong into small pieces. This gives the puto bumbong the characteristic bumpy texture. She also weighed down the sludgy galapong with something heavy, usually the upper portion of the stone rice grinder to hasten the “pagpapatindi” of the galapong. As kids we loved pressing down on the stone grinder to further hasten the process of leaching out the excess water.

  15. Hi MM,

    This really has nothing to do with the puto bumbong post =) but since you know a lot of good old recipe, I was wondering if you happen to know how to make “PINASO” it’s a dessert that was supposed to be a traditional bulakenyo food served during Christmas. I saw in a local tv show and got really interested hehehe =). Maybe one of the foodies out here may know how to do it. It’s really interesting. Anyway just a suggestion why not join a bazaar and sell all the foods you’ve tried to make such as the torta, budbud kabog, and now the Puto Bumbong and so many others so we could also try out your masterpieces =) but then again that would really take so much of your time +) there just times that i wish the pictures in your post would pop out of my monitor hehehe =)

  16. I just spoke long distance with my hipag and told her to look for Puto Bumbong steamer at Divisoria, she said no need for she knows there is a seller in a local market in Caluag Quezon (where our province is),and so she will buy me one, till my sister learned about it, now my hipag has to buy two. Can we cook puto bumbong, no! We’ve never even tried it before, but with Mr. Marketman’s site, I think I will have a very good guidance in cooking one. Last thought, when can I have it since I am here in Houston, hahaha, I got to be patient and wait till I go back home in summer, or wait for some balikbayan to come back here..

    Thanks for your help sir.

  17. Josephine’s Tagaytay sells masarap na puto bumbong and bibingka. We never fail to have it for dessert when we’re there. They only offer it on weekends though.

  18. Hi MM!

    Puto Bumbong is one of my favorite Filipino kakanin. How I wish I can have some of the ones you just made.

    To Ebba Myra: If you ever get to make Puto Bumbong, can I come over and have some? I’m also in the Houston area.

  19. MM, would a potato ricer work kaya to fluff up the mixture?? I mean if it works for mashed potatoes, why not for the pirurutong mixture? Although I must confess that personally, I’ve never used a potato ricer myself since I like my mashed potatoes more like “smashed” potatoes pero the fluffiest, lightest mashed potatoes I’ve had was a restaurant somewhere in Paris and it felt like eating air pero super sarap!

  20. Hello MarketMan, I just wish to share this..

    I dropped by Greenbelt 5 to check if Classic Confections have already opened. Let’s say serendipitous, it was actually their store’s soft opening yesterday and all of the desserts are on display, could be tried buffet style, on the house! How cool is that?

    I wasn’t able to have dinner already after trying out so many of their desserts; the lemon torte is my favorite! Thanks by the way to Cat, and her twin sister Kit, and also Baba for being very accommodating.. ;P

    Their grand opening is tomorrow, 18 December 2007. Pls do drop by, 2nd floor, Greenbelt 5.

  21. I’ve been craving for this since.. A very long time. And I haven’t actually gotten around to satisfying this craving. Let’s just say this article made me want puto bumbong even more. Any good places around Quezon City, particularly near Katipunan?

  22. Hello Market Man. You have an excellent blog, very elegant and full of delicious information.

    I come from the Western coast of India, from the verdant palm-tree shaded strip of land that is Kerala State.

    Would you believe, we have a similar preparation, even pronounced similarly, i.e. it’s called “putt-uh “, where the “uh” is almost not uttered, just a tiny exhalation.

    It’s made from coarsely powdered rice, mixed with sparsely scattered finely diced coconut meat. At either end of the steamer chimney, a half-inch mat of grated coconut is laid down – allows steam through to the rice, while still being too coarse to drop into the boiling water via the multiple orifices in the metal ‘retainer disk’ right at the bottom.

    “Putt-uh” is steamed uni-directionally, i.e. probably because of the coarse rice grind, steam readily accesses the entire column and cooks it. When done, the preparation is slid out as a “holds-together” white cylinder, which can disintegrate at a touch (needs skill to unload w/o breaking it up).

    Rice is thick-grain traditional Kerala white rice – not as exciting looking as the bumbong. Steamers are single chimney aluminium contraptions nowadays, but I can remember brass chimneys from childhood. Cooks in a jiffy – cf the easy access of steam because of a coarse rice grind.

    Typically “putt-uh” would be eaten at breakfast accompanied by either or both of these: (a) a spicy curry of dark-skinned chickpeas and/or (b) coconut milk squeezed out of finely grated coconut meat, sweetened with white or brown sugar. Children compete to grab the grated coconut-meat-ends before their siblings!

    Evidently sea voyagers in the past carried cuisines back and forth. In Kerala the age-old Malayalam term for a wok is “cheena-chatti” meaning Chinese pot. So it’s not surprising that putt-uh and puto bumbong are so similar.

  23. I was requesting a Balikbayan friend to bring back puto bumbong as pasalubong after her Christmas holiday. I can’t hardly wait and did some googling about pinay/pinoy kakanins and found your site again…good work, good photos… I have also in our cellar a puto bumbong steamer…to entertain some ethno food afficionadas but I am still missing those bamboo tubes but looking again at your steamer, wow..yours look like some spare parts in making a mercedes benz! Thanks for the recipe…will enjoy dreaming again. Marlou, Pinay von Alemanya

  24. Thank you, thank you for your diligent research in unraveling one of the trade secrets of cutting off the TAPERED end of the bamboo tube and kitchen testing one of our valued rice delicacies puto bumbong. Sister, thank you so much for your invaluable input in resolving the issue of keeping the galapong intact in the tube with the knotted ends cut off. People like you keeps our diminishing authentic key ingredients – pirurutong back in the kitchen due to resources and economics. Just like Grandma used to make them no cutting corners and compromise but just the good old fashion way. If you are taking orders – can I have five pieces please with the all the work and pandan tea. Thanks again.
    bagito – yes you can use potato riser if you have one in place of cheese grater. It works well on this.

  25. ECC, yeah, come over and help me cook, hopefully none of our hands gets burned. Email me here: emt_n2jc@yahoo.com, so we can get together sometime and I’ll teach you how to cook some of the Tagalog dishes (mostly with gata). I can also cook palitaw, maja blanko, butse, pilipit, banana cue, and sago at gulaman. I learned them all from my Nanay, unfortunately, I did get to learn how to make puto, kutsinta, and suman. They were kindda tedious and lots of work. Thanks.

  26. I remember eating puto bumbong with brown sugar and grated coconut plus crispy fried pinipig on top. super sarap! tried it at a stall inside the old South Supermart in Ayala Town Center.

  27. yes, Via Mare still sells Puto Bumbong and Bibingka all year round. they even add muscuvado sugar, queso de bola or cheddar cheese

  28. Thanks, MM for the wonderful post on puto bumbong. I hope you save all these materials for your book. It’s truly worth documenting all these wonderful recipes to pass on to the next generation. I admire your passion in cooking these traditional food.

    Ram M…that’s very informative and interesting!

  29. Well I went to a international Whole Foods Market here in Houston and bought 2 bags of what could be an equivalent of Pirurutong. One bag says Forbidden rice from Singapore/China and the other is the Black Thai Rice Mixture (with special glutinous white rice). Without the steamer, I would like to improvised or experiment of a “kakanin” to use these “not so cheap” rice. I was wondering if I can cook it like “biko”. I have searched the internet to learn how the Thai uses it, and one site says to soak it, and then steam, then add shredded coconut and sugar before serving. I’ll tell you Mr. MM how it comes out.

  30. Ebba Myra:…Maria Clara has an innovative way of cooking puto bumbong. Please check MM’s post on the steamer. If you don’t have the bamboo tubes, you can try the garden stores. Sometimes they have bamboo poles of different sizes and diameter. MAKE SURE THOUGH THAT IT IS NOT COATED WITH VARNISH or STAINEd!!!

  31. Mr. MM
    So far the best puto bumbong I tasted was at Via Mare(Landmark, Makati). I am based in Jolo, Sulu and I sometimes do homemade puto bumbong. White Glutinous rice flour from Malaysia is sold here but it is not as delicious as the one used by Via Mare. rice.

  32. Cooments for betty q:
    Just watch out when buying bamboo poles from garden stores, if their source of bamboos are coming from outside the US, more than likely it will be treated with fumagation to get rid of the pest as regulated by the US agriculture. My suggestion is buy it from the farm here in the US. It is very rare to find a bamboo farm source, especially if the order is for few quantities only. There is only one place where you can get it freshly cut, non-fumugated nor chemically treated. The source is: http://www.BeautifulBamboo.com
    For 3/4″ inside diameter, the nominal size is between 1″ to 1.25″ outside diameter. I am ordering soon and I will post here the exact inside diameter once I received the order.

  33. Well, I jut came back from Phils, and guess what.. I brought with me Puto Bumbong Steamers.. and bamboo tubes (6 in all). Binili ko po yon along Recto Avenue, close to Sto. Cristo.. at yung bamboo, sa basement ng Divisoria Mall Building.

    So I have the steamer and the Pirurong.. but feel scared to try cooking this delicacy.. parang ang hirap.

    What am I going to do?

  34. is there anything better? right after church the smell will greet you to no end and wake you up at the same time. memories, yesteryears, oh what the heck. i am pulled back in time of my innocence, my youth. i could cry.

  35. I’ve discovered the puto bumbong at Ferino’s Scout Borromeo corner Tomas Morato. Delicious and clean. I think they also deliver to nearby area 5667565.

  36. Thanks for the putobumbong recipe. Where did you buy the steamer? I live in Connecticut. Is purple rice available in Chinatown new york. Thanks again.



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