Malunggay, miracle Philippine national vegetable

13 02 2014

Malunggay, miracle Philippine national vegetable

Manila Bulletin – Thu, Feb 6, 2014

Growing up in a rural area, I always took malunggay leaves for granted as an ingredient for fish and chicken soups, or to add contrast to jackfruit and papaya stewed in coconut milk. Tinola (chicken-ginger soup) and Pesa (fish-ginger soup) always were cooked with malunggay leaves and sometimes with its young pods. The leaves provided color and crunch to Lola’s Ginataang Gulay (vegetables in coconut milk) and Ginisang Mungo (mung bean soup).

Malunggay and zucchini fritters

Malunggay was something we never bought; malunggay trees served as fences or property boundary markers and everyone was free to break off young leaves and stems at any time. Trimming was actually encouraged; it helped keep the fast-growing trees low, preventing breakage during storms.

Because we never paid for it, we paid little attention to it despite the high marks it got from our elders. They believed it was good for our blood; it helped new mothers produce more milk for their babies; it kept us from getting sick. Today, scientists are proving our old folks right.

Biochemists and molecular anthropologists around the world have discovered that malunggay is rich in Vitamins C and A, iron and high-density lipoprotein of good cholesterol, making it an effective cure for illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, inflammation, infections, cancer and aging issues.

OVERDUE ACCOLADES – The current trend towards healthy alternatives is finally granting malunggay the attention it deserves.  At every upscale tiangge and cooking demo, there are bound to be products incorporating malunggay: pesto sauce, cookies, breads, pandesal, polvoron, noodles, oil, soap, lotion, powder.

And this everyday, ordinary vegetable will soon get the supreme recognition of being named Philippine National Vegetable.

Last week, the House committee on revisions on law approved a bill to declare malunggay as the national vegetable of the Philippines and the month of November of every year as the “National Malunggay Month.” The bill was authored by Pangasinan Rep Gina de Venecia, an Ilocana who grew up eating the vegetable several times a week.

Beef and Pasta with Malunggay pods gravy

De Venecia said malunggay, serving as a “miracle vegetable” and “nature’s medicine cabinet,” deserves recognition by declaring it as a national vegetable and by devoting November of every year as its national month.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS – “For the past years, malunggay in the Philippines has been considered as a backyard tree. Now, we can say that malunggay can save lives, increase incomes, generate millions of jobs, utilize vast tracts of agricultural lands, make the Philippines globally competitive, impact local and international market, and help attain socio-economic equity,” she said.

“Malunggay is one of the important plants that deserve national and international promotion due to the many bio-medical endowment and numerous socio-economic benefits that can be derived from it,” she pointed out.

Because of its enormous benefits, malunggay is encouraged by the Department of Agriculture. Our country is presently expanding the local market for malunggay and its products with the aim of enhancing the agribusiness potentials of various crops as part of the government’s poverty alleviation and health care programs.

EASY HOME RECIPES – Getting children to eat more malunggay would be impossible if all we offer them are Tinola and Ginataan; it takes a little imagination to prepare healthy dishes that children will actually ask for.

After raising five kids and several grandchildren, I have realized that the trick is to trick them. Find out what they like to eat and adapt those recipes in the family’s daily menu.

MALUNGGAY IN PASTA – Malunggay leaves, in powder form, are kneaded into the pasta dough to create beautifully green-speckled noodles or lasagna. To powder leaves, dry them in a very low oven and whirl in a blender or coffee grinder.

Young malunggay leaves can also be added to basil when making Pesto Sauce. Spread the Pesto on flat bread and bake, or dot over pizza.

MALUNGGAY BURGER – Increase the nutrients of hamburgers, meatloaves and meatballs by adding shredded or powdered malunggay leaves to the mixture.

The recipe should be adjusted by increasing the amount of flour and other binders and starches, as the leaves will reduce the cohesiveness of the meat mix.

Caramelization of the surface produces a brown crust, which would serve to tone down or camouflage the “green stuff” that children try to void.

MALUNGGAY FRITTERS – This is our current household fave. It is made with drained shredded zucchini, leftover potatoes, canned sardines, beaten egg, panko, flour and spices. The mixture should not be runny, but hold its shape when mounded on the lightly oiled frying pan.

Do not deep-fry; cook in a lightly-oiled cast iron pan or a non-stick omelet frying pan. Fry over medium heat until one side is light brown, then flip and brown the other side. Transfer cooked fritters to a paper-line plate to reduce oiliness.

Fritters can be served in place of burgers in sandwiches, or with sweet and sour sauce as main course or side dish.

PODS IN PASTA – The malunggay pods are peeled and only the very tender inner core is used. This part has mild, asparagus-like flavor, and blends well with gravies and pasta sauces.

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via Malunggay, miracle Philippine national vegetable – Yahoo News Philippines.




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