12 Apr2014

Bago Leaves

by Marketman


A late visit to the “tabo” or market day at the large central Dao market in Tagbilaran at noon meant I had missed most of the produce sold earlier in the day. Fridays are the THE market day but our “fast” ferry from Cebu City just wasn’t fast enough. There were still a few vendors, and these incredibly vibrant leaves caught my eye, and a local said they were “bago” leaves, and used in soups and stews. I had come across bago leaves once before, in a small mountain market in Cebu, here, and at the time I figured out their scientific name was gnetum gnemon.

What I DID NOT REALIZE at the time is that bago trees, or gnetum gnemon thrive in both the Philippines and Indonesia (along with a few other countries) and their fruit has a large seed that is pounded and fried and made into emping in Indonesia. Emping is a slightly bitter cracker that I used to devour in huge quantities while eating an oxtail soup or sop buntot at least once a week when I worked and lived in Indonesia many years ago. I suppose I might be the only one that finds this connection the least bit fascinating, but to my knowledge, we don’t seem to make use of the fruit or seeds of the bago trees in the Philippines, and they are just left for the birds to munch on… :)



  1. Footloose says:

    That’s one very lively green leafy vegetable indeed. They look like young cacao leaves. Is it bago as in new or as in sago?

    You’ve been gnashing gnetum gnenom crackers and you dint gnow?

    Apr 12, 2014 | 9:04 pm


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  3. MARILENE says:

    This is one of the instances when I would hit the “like” button on that comment, if I was on FB. Love the pun (w?).

    Apr 12, 2014 | 11:25 pm

  4. mrs.hoover says:

    thanks MM for visiting my native Bohol. Footloose, it’s called bago. we used to add it in ginataan or just a simple broth, but has never added it in fish tinola or tinowa in Bol-anon. it’s uses in cooking is similar to malunggay, but has a different taste.

    Apr 13, 2014 | 1:01 am

  5. Carriza says:

    We have lots of bago plants in our yard planted by our late father. Our family like it so much. Good for linagang karne, sinabawang isda, tinulang mongo and ginataang veggies. Vegetarians, try it and you’ll really like it!

    Apr 13, 2014 | 1:40 am

  6. Anne says:

    I realize I don’t know too many vegetables. Thanks M.M. I just learned something new today

    Apr 13, 2014 | 5:51 am

  7. present tense says:

    Your sense of wonder is pleasantly surprising. Almost all herbs, plants, and the like have food and pharmaceutical applications in one form or another. There are several databanks around – the CLSU in Nueva Ecija, UPLB in Laguna. In Manila, RTU has a mushroom lab that may interest you, while PUP has a food technology library in its sta mesa campus. I remember these from 10yrs back -you will have to check how current they are. Cheers !

    Oh ! These are all food related. Not much has been done on medicinal applications though

    Apr 13, 2014 | 12:03 pm

  8. Natie says:

    Plenty in Negros Ooccidental.. In -law in Kabankalan sent me a bagful . Good sautéed with ground beef soup.. usually found during Market Days in towns. Texture is similar to Collards, without the strong odor of the wide-leafed vegetable.

    Apr 13, 2014 | 4:13 pm

  9. Kai says:

    We just had this for dinner last night, added to our utan bisaya. This is currently sold at 3 “pungpongs” for 10 pesos sa Carbon Market. :)

    Apr 13, 2014 | 5:06 pm

  10. juandesigns says:

    Thanks for this interesting info. I also used to work in Bali, Indonesia and enjoyed emping belinjo crackers. I like the one spiked with chili or pedas. I hope the folks in Bohol can learn how to make the seeds into crackers so others can enjoy the novel experience. Selamat makan!

    Apr 13, 2014 | 10:56 pm

  11. EJ says:

    I like emping, too, MM!

    Apr 13, 2014 | 11:56 pm

  12. Gigi says:

    My lola used to make ginataang mongo or any soup with bago leaves while I was growing up in Leyte. Lami kaayo :)

    Apr 15, 2014 | 3:04 pm

  13. millet says:

    i’ve never tried bago leaves. wonder if the tree grows in mindanao. footloose, hahaha…..you’re back, and in fine form, as usual!

    Apr 16, 2014 | 7:52 am

  14. LizCuy says:

    This post made me truly miss having sop buntot at the Borobudur InterCon in Jakarta! I adore Indonesian food- just this week I made Gado-gado (for Meatless Monday) and paired it with emping. Having a well-stocked Indonesian “sari-sari” store in our district is a welcome presence.

    Apr 16, 2014 | 10:45 am

  15. Marketman says:

    LizCuy, we lived in a two-bedroom apartment in the Borobudur for nearly 4 years, while commuting back and forth to Singapore which was our official residence in the region while I was working way back when. So I had sop buntot at least once a week, and the waiters used to inform me when the broth was at it’s finest (most flavor and most concentrated) before it was watered down again… :)

    Apr 16, 2014 | 11:04 am

  16. Cris J. says:

    I have yet to try that. :)… funny Footloose :):):)

    Apr 17, 2014 | 8:55 am

  17. Feglatt says:

    bago sarap yan

    Apr 17, 2014 | 11:08 am

  18. Feglatt says:

    miss this vegetables Bago leaves

    Apr 17, 2014 | 11:08 am

  19. Mrs. Kolca says:

    Sa amin sa Romblon, ang tawag dito ay “lumbay” at madalas ito isama sa ginataang langka o kaya’y sinabawang isda. Marami nito sa bahay ng tiyahin ko sa Alcantara. Madalas pinamimigay lang kasi marami naman.

    Apr 17, 2014 | 9:28 pm

  20. Fred says:

    Good find! I was looking for the name of these leaves. Our househelp used to bring these back with here when she comes back from Romblon. We use this in a savory ginataan with pork and shrimp. They call it “lumbay”. Always wanted to grow this plant here.

    Apr 19, 2014 | 8:38 am

  21. LizCuy says:

    MM, you were so spoiled! I would have sop buntut every week, too, if I lived at the Borobudur InterCon! I remember that there would usually be celebrity diners in the cafe- a general, a movie star, a politician, a tycoon… all excitedly pointed out by the staff. (I once went to a Jakarta mall and spied a sign in a food court stall stating “Sop Buntut by the former chef of Borobudur InterCon.” Of course, it was a letdown.) And what a privilege to know when best to have their famous dish!
    Makes me wonder if there is finally a good Indonesian restaurant back there in Metro Manila…

    Apr 21, 2014 | 4:57 pm

  22. Hannah says:

    But here in the Province of Romblon we mixed it in Ginataang Lanka. It’s much better than Ginataang Monggo. :)

    Nov 29, 2014 | 1:43 pm

  23. Cirah says:

    where can i find bago in manila? I relly love ginataang bago. Parang laing lang pag kaka luto pero mas masarap pa sa laing.?

    Mar 1, 2016 | 12:14 pm

  24. Marketman says:

    Cirah, I have never come across bago leaves in Manila…

    Mar 1, 2016 | 12:59 pm


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