I am an Igorot, a Filipino, an earthling. My ethnicity may have made me different, but so does yours and the others out there. Our disparities may be glaring at times, however, if we look through our heart, we will notice our commonality as human beings.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All About Bobod

Have you ever wondered why some tapey tastes better (and some bitter) than the others? It's all about the bobod.

There is no official English word for bobod but some have translated it as rice cake yeast. Maybe because the yeast is grown in rice powder which are formed into small cakes. Well, the Department of Science and Technology calls it lime (what???) in their advertisement for a Tapuey (yes, with u) making contest (read more about the contest here). Cook's Thesaurus talks about wine ball/wine cubes in their yeast section (click here to read the article) but there's no description thus it is hard to compare if such is the same as bobod.

Bobod Making
Bobod is made from ordinary rice and is produced usually in the following procedure:
1) The rice is soaked in water overnight.
2) After draining the water, the rice is pulverized either through pounding (bayo) or with the much easier manual rice grinder.
3) An old bobod (powdered) is added to the rice powder and mixed evenly. An ordinary sized bobod (around 20-25 grams) is enough for a kilo of rice.
4) Water is slowly added to the mixture to create a dough.
5) Small cakes, around 7 t0 8 centimeters (2.5 to 3 inches) in diameter and 1-2 cm (0.25 to 0.5 inch) thick, are made from the dough.
6) For drying, flat containers (preferably bigao) are covered with rice hay.
7) The shaped bobod are placed on the containers and covered thinly with rice hay.
8) The bobod are left in warm dry place until dried.

Factors Affecting the Quality of Bobod
The quality of bobod is affected by the type of yeast developed in it. (Click here to read more about yeast.)

To make a good rice cake yeast, the innoculant which is the old bobod, should come from a batch that have been proven to produce better tasting rice wine. There are lots of types of yeast and whatever is used as a starter will encourage the growth and dominance of its kind. Bad old bobod will create bad new bobod which in turn will produce bad tasting wine. It is possible to make new cake of yeast without an old bobod since yeasts are ever present in the environment. However, it is also very possible that undesirable yeasts or other types of organisms such as fungi and bacteria will grow dominantly in the rice cake.

Different temperature range will favor the growth of certain types of yeasts. This is the reason Cordillerans leave their yeast cakes to dry on the shelf above their cooking area. The cold temperature in the mountain most time of the year makes the other parts of the house much colder. From time to time, they also bring out the bobod to dry under the early morning sun. It is not advisable though to expose the cake in direct sunlight in hot weather because this will kill the growing yeast. Yeast for wine making grow best in 30-37 °C (86-99 °F) hence it is important to keep the cakes within such temperature range.

Bobod and Wine Quality
As I have discussed in my post about tapey making, it is important to cool down the cooked glutinous rice before adding bobod. Yeasts are living organisms that can not survive in hot temperatures. When the yeast are cooked, spoilage, instead of fermentation, will take place.

The yeast action during fermentation is also the reason why it is advisable for the wine containers to be stored in warm place. When exposed to high temperature, yeasts will stop functioning normally and they die. The increased temperature will also enhance the conversion of wine into vinegar. On the other hand, lower temperature will decrease the activity of yeast and will prolong the wine making process.

It is also possible that inadequate bobod will destroy the taste of wine. Less yeast will result to slower fermentation which may not be able to cope up with the onset of spoilage. In effect, the resulting wine has either bitter or soury taste. Too much bobod may not affect the taste but it will surely hasten the wine making process.


Eliza said...

Thank you for this post. I've been trying to make bobod after I used up my last one from the Philippines (I live in Los Angeles). Based on your post, does this mean I can make more with just rice flour and water, or is there another ingredient required to make good bobod?

nanay kai said...

Very interesting blog indeed. I just got a bottle of strawberry wine as pasalubong from baguio. The wine's ingredients are strawberry juice and "bobod". I had no idea what bobod was so I looked it up, thank you for putting up such culturally inclined blog. Keep it up!