05 Jan2014


“Sauteed Horseradish Tree Piths and Minced Roast Suckling Pig”. Hmmm, I am pretty sure I would hesitate ordering that if I saw that on a local menu. But that would be a big mistake as this disarmingly simple and provincial style dish is delicious, delicate and a pleasure to eat.


I was moving briskly through the Nasugbu, Batangas market a week or so ago, on the lookout for something unusual or particularly fresh and abundant or “in season”. I ran across these pale green peeled piths of young horseradish tree (young malunggay or moringa tree pods) and realized the last time I bought them, and wrote about them here, I actually never got around to cooking them. Intrigued, I asked the vendors how to make use of the malunggay pod piths and they said to just simply sauté them with some onions, garlic, tomatoes and perhaps some ground pork or beef. That sounded simple enough and at PHP20 for a small pack of the vegetables, I bought 5 packs to experiment with. On the same market trip, I snagged some incredibly fresh tapilan or a more elongated type of mung bean that is utterly creamy and delicious (I sometimes like it more than monggo) and a couple of kilos of unripe tamarind or sampalok to make into broth that would be stored in the freezer for future sinigangs in Manila. I have used older malunggay pods in a pinakbet, here, but not in this “stripped down” form.


Back in the kitchen, I rummaged for ground meat but couldn’t find any, so I chopped up some leftover frozen lechon instead. A couple of cloves of garlic were minced, an onion chopped and a few native tomatoes chopped. I placed a wok on high heat, added a touch of vegetable oil, sautéed the onions, garlic and tomatoes for a minute or two, added the minced lechon meat and stirred for another minute or so, then added the rinsed and drained malunggay pod piths and cooked for a couple more minutes. Once the pods had softened a bit and the other ingredients were mixed in, I added some fish sauce or patis, salt and pepper to taste. Total prep and cooking time didn’t take more than 10 minutes…


The results were absolutely delicious. The malunggay pods have a delicate flavor, a nice texture and I suspect, or hope, a really healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. This is simple food, things from the backyard that are quickly cooked at little cost. It must have been 8 in the morning when I took these photos and I ended up eating a very large portion of the dish with copious amounts of rice for breakfast that day! It was the first time I have ever cooked and tasted the strips of young piths of malunggay… I understand they go into soups and other dishes as well… but I consider the sautéed version with a bit of lechon to be a personal discovery of sorts. Will now keep my eyes peeled for this ingredient every time I visit a provincial market…



  1. millet says:

    peeling them is a pain, i always end up with more peel than pith, so i’ve given up ever using them. first time i’ve heard of them being sold already peeled.

    Jan 5, 2014 | 8:56 pm


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  3. Lou says:

    I miss those. That’s how my Mom cooked it at home. It is also great in dinengdeng and goes very well with other vegetables like katuray blossoms. In Ilocos, we use them in “baradibud”, a dinengdeng with mashed sweet potatoes.

    Jan 5, 2014 | 9:40 pm

  4. MT-DC says:

    Hello MM – this is a familiar dish to “GI”s (genuine Ilocanos) like me. We even cook it unpeeled as a “dinengdeng or inabraw”. Your post brings back childhood memories of food cooked simply yet nutritious and loaded with flavor. Mangan tayon!
    FYI – I’m a regular lurker and this is my fave Pinoy food blog, bar none. Mabuhay ka for what you have done to help our kababayans affected by Typhoon Yolanda.

    Jan 5, 2014 | 10:52 pm

  5. betty q. says:

    MM…next time, try deep frying the cut malunggay pods first on high heat till they get a bit browned? It will take ony a few minutes. Then drain thoroughly and add to sautéed garlic, onions, tomatoes and lechon. I do the deep frying first on any vegetable added to ginisa…chunks of sayote, zucchini, trombocino, carrots or eggplants ….lalo na sitao. It takes on a slightly smoky undertone. I am a huge fan of our Fortex beans which is the shorter version of the sitao but a lot sweeter.

    Jan 6, 2014 | 12:52 am

  6. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Echoing what Lou and Millet said. My family and I would enjoy a warm bowl of dinengdeng or monggo with malunggay (marungay) stems by scraping the pith with our teeth and discarding the fibers on the side of the plate. I would imagine that preparing them from the whole stem could be a bit of a task.

    I’ve also enjoyed malunggay in a variety of South Indian dishes.

    Actually if I saw through western eyes (from the Bay Area for example) “Sauteed Horseradish Tree Piths and Minced Roast Suckling Pig”…it would actually intrigue me and likely pique the interest of non-Filipino diners. Perhaps, ‘Minced Roast Suckling Pig with Sauteed Malunggay’ with a sound byte of ‘Roasted pig meat and skin wok crisped with a gentle sautee of pods from the Malungay or Horse Radish Tree’. It might work :)

    Jan 6, 2014 | 2:40 am

  7. betty q. says:

    MM…side note again please for Gejo! Thank you!

    hey, Gejo….I am going to order my seeds in the next few weeks. For this year, I am going to plant piment d’espelette peppers among others from Underwood Gardens. if you want to try planting them, let me know and I will include your seeds in my order. I Am also going to plant baby honeydews called Oliver’s Pearl Cluster…compact vines and baby cantaloupes called Tasty Bites. Sent you e mails before but don’t know if you received them.

    Jan 6, 2014 | 5:20 am

  8. Betchay says:

    It is always sold peeled when available, in our local wet market. We have a malunggay tree in our backyard but when it bears fruit we just give them away as it really takes a special technique and patience to peel them! :)
    Anyway, my mom used to cook it as a fish soup….she sauteed chopped onions, tomatoes and garlic; add rice washing; add the peeled malunggay pod strips;add fried daing(dried kabayas,etc),season with patis and let it boil a few minutes until pods are tender. Yum!

    Jan 6, 2014 | 6:34 am

  9. Gejo says:

    I like the bright green color of these very much, as well as the seeds. Any ideas on what to do with the tender seeds, MM?

    Betty Q ! Those sound very interesting – enjoy planting! Thanks very much for the offer. I also sent an e-mail or two in the past . Maybe there was a problem with e-mail addresses? Can you e-mail again to my add, malipayonfarms@gmail.com? So I can also have your current e-mail address?

    Jan 6, 2014 | 9:24 am

  10. millet says:

    bettyq, could fortex beans be our local “paayap”?

    Jan 6, 2014 | 10:18 am

  11. betty q. says:

    no. Millet! it looks exactly like our sitao…identical twin but a bit shorter. However, it surpasses our sitao in flavour and sweetness. It is a high yielder and bears fruit way earlier than our sitao. I plant them in succession starting in late June up until late July!

    But what totally impressed other gardeners here were my eggplants I planted last summer. The seeds were sent by my nephew’s former boss over there. The long eggplants were in clusters. I was told that eggplants generally are not born in clusters. These ones were and I have already quite a number of gardeners who are waiting for seedlings for next year.

    Jan 6, 2014 | 10:59 am

  12. ling says:

    being a true blue ilocano, malunggay fruit is a favorite in any pakbet or dinengdeng dish.


    Jan 6, 2014 | 6:00 pm

  13. Rose says:

    The sign of a good cook is being able to come up with a delectable dish from the ingredients at hand and without putting too much thought to it.

    Jan 7, 2014 | 2:58 am

  14. Connie C says:

    bettyQ: Happy New Year!
    Must be that your black gold , your super organic fertilizer that rewarded you with clusters of eggplant. I must have a pile of it now in my other home buried under the snow blanketing the East Coast and I will miss using it for my container gardening in spring now that my abode in the metropolis can only boast of a wall garden more suited for bromeliads.

    Mostly a lurker now but continue getting inspired by MM’s posts. I can see large and long malunggay pods hanging from the next door neighbor’s tree and very tempted to pick a few but don’t quite know how to prepare it. I might try to pick one and let’s see if I can peel it to get more pith than skin. With Centris Market on the other side of the highway, I don’t have to sweat for some crispy pata or lechon and try MM’s recipe featured here.

    Jan 7, 2014 | 3:48 pm


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