Category: Vegetables

Bamboo Shoots


Bamboo Shoots

Photo by Haragayato of Tokyo, Japan

If you are rather partial to Chinese food, you are probably familiar with bamboo shoots.

And if you have been to the Philippines, it is possible that you have come across bamboo shoots in menus.  Probably they would have been called labong in the Tagalog regions or rabong in the Ilocos region.  They are also often called ubod.

Outside of Asia, bamboo shoots would most probably come in cans/tins or jars.

Bamboo shoots are usually harvested during the rainy season when they shoots grow profusely.  As per above photo, the shoots are like cones covered in papery, a la papyrus, brownish and greenish leaves.  The outer shell of leaves are then trimmed off leaving a yellowish tuber.

They can be cooked in variety of ways and can then be also made into a delicious if rather spicy and piquant salad.

 

Kangkong (Water Spinach)

Kangkong, photo by JMorton

Kangkong (Water Spinach)

I love kangkong, or water spinach as its English given name.

Kangkong is a green leafy aquatic vegetables which is rich in vitamins and nutrients.  They have a long slender leaves attached to a hollow tube stem which is crunchy or there is bite to it. Yummy

They usually grow in anything watery plot, in fields, swamp, lakes, river or even in bogs.

I remember that they grew near a dyke in the middle of your rice field when we were still living in Marag.

Kangkong can grow rather vigorously and needed a good trim to prevent them overpowering the water surface.  Good thing they are so delicious.

I remember going into the waist-high water in our field to gather the kangkong sprout.  I almost had a near panic attack after a carabao leech decided to attached itself to my stomach. It took ages to remove it and it seems the more you pull at it the longer it gets.  That still gives me nightmare to date.

My father did smoke whenever he plowed the field.  He would use the burning ember of the cigarette to unhook any pesky leech.

Oops, back to kangkong, they are delicious in sinigang as were as blanch and made into a salad.

Alamat Ng Ampalaya (Legend of Bitter Gourd)

Ampalaya, Photo by PH Morton

Alamat Ng Ampalaya (Legend of Bitter Gourd)

Ampalaya is so bitter so it is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it.  But having said that, once you get used to its taste, you might actually love it as an ingredients to many recipes.

Ampalaya, is a Tagalog name for bitter gourd and it is called parya in the Ilocos region of the Philippines where I spent my childhood eating our own homegrown parya.

There is a Filipino legend how this vegetable got its bitter taste.

 


Alamat ng Ampalaya:

Once upon a time, there was a Green Garden, where all sorts of vegetables grew robustly and profusely.

In this verdant garden, there grew pumpkins with unique sweetness.

There were tomatoes with slight sourness but with fair, soft complexion.

The eggplants were sublime in their royal purple coats.

The lettuce carpeted the ground with their dewey leaves as they look up to the early morning sun.

The jicamas were as fresh and crisp as a new day.

Rhizomes of spicy ginger stood majestically amongst the vegetables.

The onions, shyly confident with their breathtaking thin delicate skin, that they make one cry!.

The daikon radish is the fairest of them all and knows it very well. 🙂

In the far corner stood a little gourd, waiting, watching, hoping to be noticed.

But she was different from the rest, she was wan and pale with a taste that was hard to explain . Day after day she watched the others with their boasting, their preening, their chattering, their joy.

She can’t help  but compare herself with them.  The more she does the more she thought that she cannot measure up with anyone.  As days passed, she can’t bear it anymore, she planned and plotted to carry out a most heinous scheme.

As soon as it got dark, she stealthily went from one vegetable to the next and the next until she had taken all their outstanding qualities.

Overnight the ampalaya became the belle of the Green Garden.  Everyone where asking where did she come from.  She was admired for her beauty and utter perfection.

But there is no secret that can be hidden forever.  The other vegetables start to suspect that there is something that is not quite right.

As  the sun was just setting, the vegetables covertly followed ampalaya in her corner of the Green Garden.  To their amazement, they saw her peel each of the layers of the qualities that made her so perfect.  Without much ado, the vegetables frogmarched the now wan and pale ampalaya to see the Fairy Queen of the Green Garden.

The Queen was not amused.  She looked over at the amplaya and could not believe why she was not satisfied with her beautiful pale appearance!  As a punishment, she let it be known that from the next new light, the ampalaya will wake up with dark warty lumpy skin and the bitterest of taste.  And she would always either be loved or hated for all eternity.

Moral of the story:  everyone is beautiful, you just have to cultivate your own asset!

 

Chayote (Sayote)

Chayote vine, photo by JMorton

Sayote, photo by JMorton

Chayote (Sayote)

Chayote is what is called sayote in the Philippines.  It is also known as vegetable pear worldwide because of its pear shape and colour.  Chayote belongs to the gourd family like cucumber, squash and melon.  Chayote is a rich source of vitamin C.

It is a much love vegetable in the Philippnes as it is very versatile.  It can be stir-fried, lightly stewed and added to many recipes.  It can also a good substitute for the unripe papaya for a chicken soup called tinola.

Sayote is mostly grown in the mountainous part of the Ilocos region in the Philippines.  In fact the photo above is taken while we were trekking the rice terraces of Benguet.

The vine grows supported by chicken wire against a fence.

Taro (Colocasia Esculenta )

Gabi, photo by JMORTON

TARO, PHOTO BY JMORTON

Taro (Colocasia Esculenta )

At the back of our house in Marag, plenty of gabi or taro used to grow.  They grew next to our well (bubon) where the vicinity always has water.

Gabi growing profusely in our backyard was a Godsend.  It was a ready source for a vegetarian viand.  Thank goodness we also had a constant supply of coconuts which goes deliciously with taro.

As children, we were told to treat gabi with respect.  Eaten raw the leaves and stalks can be poisonous as they contain oxalic acid.  The sap that comes out when the stalks and leaves are torn can cause itch.

Daikon Radish (Labanos)

Labanos, photo by JMorton

 

Daikon Radish (Labanos)

Daikon or labanos may look strange to non-Asian consumer and cooks but this long pale tuber is delicious cooked using many recipes or serve raw in salad.

Below are some recipes which daikon can be used.

Vegetable: Courgette (Zucchini)

Courgette, Photo by JMorton

Courgette, Photo by JMorton

Sliced courgette, photo by JMorton

Sliced courgette, photo by JMorton

Vegetable: Courgette (Zucchini)

Our good friend and neighbour,Mick,  has once again shared with us more of his bounty from his allotment.  He gave us three humongous courgettes, which is also known as zucchini from across the pond, I believe.

We have enjoyed the veg, cooking it with pork with spicy sauce.  It was so delicious.  I shall be sharing and posting the recipe soon.

Courgette is rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium.

It is also high in fibre which is good for the digestive system.  It is mildly laxative and diuretic, very gentle to digestion.

Courgette belongs to the same family as marrow, squash, and pumpkin.

Okra (Ladies’ Fingers)

Okra, Photo by PH Morton

Okra (Ladies’ Fingers)

Okra belongs to the mallow family. It is  also called ladies’ fingers, bhindi, bamia, ochro or gumbo in other languages.

I love okra. It is a very versatile vegetable. It can be cooked in many different ways.

It can be steamed or boiled lightly then eaten with chopped tomatoes and shallots with bagoong (fermented fish or shrimps) or patis (fish sauce). It can also be grilled or thrown into the barbecue. And of course you can make many recipes using okra, like in the famous Ilocano dishes like pinakbet and dinengdeng.

The way to tell if an okra is fresh and not too mature,  is to gently bend the thinner end bit,  if it breaks easily then, it is just perfect. To prepare it, it has to be topped and tailed first and then cut whichever suits your fancy!

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