Bang Bang Lumbia

Sago has long been existing in the world. Its origin as reported by the Society of Sago Palm Studies is from the extending area of Moluccas to New guinea. Sago is eaten as staple in Malay Archipelago, as mentioned in Singapore Food History site until it was displaced by rice. This food is continued to be eaten many centuries ago in areas where rice is expensive or not available, such as Timor, the Northern Moluccas, the Aru islands, Buton and Selayar.

The presence of Sago in the Tausug way of life can be traced during reign of Sulu Sultanate. As mentioned by James Warren in his book “The Sulu Zone”, page 87, “there is one vegetable production in the Sooloo dominions of great consequence---sago---- no place has greater abundance or more excellent sago trees than the coast of tirun… The Tidong exchanged the granulated sago to the Taosug for as little as a dollar a picul. While on the other side, the Tausug offered the products which included sago to the English for trading purposes as reported in the International Trade in the Sulu Sea, 1791.

Recently the popularity of sago among the people of Nusantara (likusantara) is still buzzing. A research conducted about industrial production, processing and utilization of sago palm derived products by the group of researchers which says, “sago palm is gaining much importance as a crop par excellence and a starch crop of the 21st century, due to its being an extremely sustainable plant with an ability to thrive in most soil conditions.”

With the presence of valuable technology nowadays there is no other reason why most countries in likusantara can't produce billion of dollars out of this stuff. The importance of technology use to process the sago contributed much to produce good quality. if to compare the sago sell in Malaysia and other parts of South East Asia particularly Sulu we can see big differences. Obviously, Malaysia has high tech equipment to process the product. This judgment is base on the finish sago product sells in Malaysia.

The multitude uses of sago is clearly elaborated in this article, “Sago pearls can be boiled, either alone or mixed with other foods, and consumed directly as a carbohydrate source. Sago is also widely used, together with rice, corn and potatoes, in the manufacture of noodles in Malaysia. The other industries that make extensive use of sago are the monosodium glutamate industry, the soft drink industry in the making of various syrups and the glue industry involved in plywood manufacture. New uses for sago include its use in the manufacture of biodegradable plastics, alcohol, ethanol and citric acid. In other words, sago starch is a very versatile multiple-use product.

To the Tausug, the finished product of sago is called Lumbia. Tausug used to cook it in different type of dishes and confectionery, such as sindul, roasted lumbia, (in replace of cassava) and other local bangbang. Sago, like tapioca, comes in different grades - small, medium and large pearls. Hence if you like to cook lumbia make sure you are aware of these grades.

Being a Tausug and currently residing in Sandakan, I chose to post the Bangbang lumbia, which is very popular today in Tausug community in Malaysia. Though this kind of recipe originated from the Malay kitchen the Tausug as belong to malay stock have adopted it. According to Neldyjolo he had seen this type of confectionery served in wedding occasion and sold by the Tausug in cake stalls in Sulu. However, to some Tausug bangbang makers in Sandakan confessed that the cake sago is new to them it is here where the knew how to make it. This type of confectionery called in Malaysia “Cake Sago” while in this post I named it Bangbang Lumbia.

Here are the simple instructions to follow in making this delicious cake.


1 kg. Sago pearl

½ kg. White sugar

1 coconut – produce 1 ½ liters of coconut milk


Pour the sago pearl to a small basin (Sago pearl has plenty of colors)
Add the coconut milk

Let it soak for 30 minutes to 1 hour

Add white sugar then mix them

Put the mixture sago on any type of basin as long as it is fitted on the steamer.

Steam for 40 minutes

If it’s already cooked, slice sago cake to any size you prefer,

Then coat the sago cake with grated coconut.