Sago grub known as Butod among the Kadazandusun people in Sabah is a delicacy that used to be famine food.
During the Japanese occupation the people could not tend to their paddy fields due to the war. Their paddy stock either dried up through the months or got stolen by the conquering army. So the people turned to the wild instead.
One of the plant they looked towards to was the Rumbia or Sago Palm. They cut down the trunk of the old tree and cut it in half. They then smashed the pith to extract the starch. The starch known as ‘Natok’ was then boiled into a paste called ‘nantung’ and eaten with savoury dip such as sour soup fish.
The trunk of the sago palm was then left to rot and a certain type of bug would use it to lay their eggs. The eggs become sago grub, which were fat and round.
The grubs were then harvested and cooked with shallots and all manners of wild vegetables. Some people like it raw or roasted over open fire.
Nowadays, people eat it not out of need but as a delicacy or exotic food. Homestays still promote sago grub dishes as a tourism product.-Sayangsabah.