28 Mar2011

Endive and chicory are closely related; and the nomenclature for the various varieties is seriously confusing. Suffice it to say that it is a curly and often bitter green, in most of its forms. It can be super mild, as in my favorite frisee lettuce that is actually a “mutt” or mix between a chicory and a paler leafy lettuce that results in a frilly tasty green perfect with lardons and egg in a classic French bistro salad — and which is technically an endive, I think. Or it can be wickedly bitter. At any rate, I have rarely found locally grown chicory or endive so I was THRILLED to spot it at a stall in the Centris Sunday market, and promptly bought two robust heads of chicory. The vendor warned me that I had to blanch the leaves before eating them…

Some reference books I have suggest that escarole is in fact an endive, not a strictly a chicory, so let’s say I am just a bit confused. The bottom line is it expands the vegetable choices locally and it goes wonderfully in hearty soups, an example of which is up next… Many thanks to the growers who are charting new territory with less common greens grown in organic conditions in the local setting. And if any of you grow real frisee, I promise I will buy a substantial portion of your maiden crop, and will write about it so other readers will know where to find it. :)



  1. Sleepless in seattle says:

    I love endive..the availability of all different kind of bag salad greens here,make it easy and affordable to have a well mixed greens..I love how we can have all these salad greens back home now.. My hubby and I thinking settling part time there. looks like we can be In foodieland.

    Mar 28, 2011 | 2:41 pm


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  3. Ryan says:

    So did you blanch it before eating it? Woah centris! My mom actually went there last sunday and I didn’t come. She said she was waking me up but I was too stubborn. I missed the chance of seeing you! Damn! :(

    Mar 28, 2011 | 3:49 pm

  4. dren says:

    Your blog is ranked 19th on 100 most popular blogs in the Philippines for 2010. Congrats MM!


    Mar 28, 2011 | 4:15 pm

  5. Rowi says:

    Hej MM,
    It’s great to see that this variety of salads is now being grown in Manila. I would love to eat these escarole/frisee fresh, combined with bits of blue cheese and chopped walnuts. I like the bitterness as I find that it adds dimension to the salad taste. The frisee that is being sold here has been cultured to such an extent that the bitterness is hardly noticeable.

    Mar 28, 2011 | 4:22 pm

  6. ntgerald says:

    Memories of escarole.
    I used to make Italian wedding soup with them.

    Mar 28, 2011 | 8:27 pm

  7. Footloose says:

    I love Italian wedding soup even more than menestra and don’t have to wait for any nuptial to make ‘em. I can have it for any quiet celebration of an elopement or any domestic setting out of wedlock. Btw, isn’t an escarole a strike-breaker over there?

    Mar 28, 2011 | 9:41 pm

  8. kim e says:

    mm, where is the centris sunday market? aside from chicory, is there a wide variety of vegetables on offer?

    Mar 29, 2011 | 12:49 am

  9. josephine says:

    The nomenclature here in Europe is obviously different. Frisee is the curly bitter green you have in the pictures, endive is a small, rocket-shaped tight-leaved vegetable which is great wrapped in ham and baked with a cheesy bechamel sauce (a classic) or else in an endive, walnut and roquefort cheese salad (another classic). I don’t know if these are available in the Phils. or indeed whether they can grow there as even here, they are usually only available during the winter months.

    Mar 29, 2011 | 3:02 am

  10. Tonito says:

    @Footloose – it’s eskirol or in Spanish esquirol – a scab or strikebreaker.

    Mar 29, 2011 | 4:49 am

  11. FestiveRebel says:

    hmmm Footloose got a bite… let me try, isn’t eskirol a skin cleanser?

    Mar 29, 2011 | 6:22 am

  12. Aji says:

    Yes! I can now make Mark Bittman’s Escarole Soup! Must go to Centris on Sunday!

    Mar 29, 2011 | 9:20 am

  13. Marketman says:

    This is precisely why I love the comments section and the interesting comments it often gets… while I took several years of Spanish in school, and recognized footloose’s alluding the term, I couldn’t recall it either, so thanks tonito and festiverebel for chiming in. josephine, like you, I was hoping this curly green in the photo was frisee, which it is not. It looks similar but has much sturdier leaves and is far more bitter. frisee, it turns out is a cross between an endive family member and a leafy lettuce. As for the endive you refer to, otherwise known as witlof in some places, it is one of many members of the broader “endive” family it seems. They tended to be grown in winter as they were hand “covered” with sand to make sure that their leaves remained in the dark and therefore as creamy white/yellow as possible. The conditions are now simulated in greenhouses so witlof can be produced year round. If I am not mistaken, white asparagus gets the same treatment as well. You can get witlof/endive in Manila, imported, at some specialty shops, but they tend to be quite expensive. kim e, centris is at the corner of EDSA and quezon avenue, this is the lung center market that has relocated — I strongly recommend it. But parking is a hassle I find. ntgerald and footloose, I can’t believe the coincidence on the Italian wedding soup! I just bought a copy of the Rao’s cookbook (second book) at a Booksale shop in Cebu yesterday for just PHP200 and the one recipe that stuck in my mind was the one for wedding soup! Rowi, I tried this uncooked but couldn’t manage to eat much of it. This one definitely needs to be cooked… :) dren, good grief, thanks for that information, I had NO idea. :) Ryan, I didn’t blanch it because I added it to a soup. But for other preparations, yes, I would blanch it. Sleepless, the selection IS getting better in Manila…

    Mar 29, 2011 | 9:45 am

  14. bethp says:

    This is the kind (one of the) endive that the Dutch use for their dish called “stamppot”. I’m not really a fan of the dish but I know how to prepare one when I was still living in Holland. It’s a kind of mashed potato mixed with other veggies such as this endive and serve together with “rookworst” (smoked sausage). The version that I’ve learned has bacon on it. Throw some sliced bacon in the pan and let all the wonderful? fat (don’t throw it away use it) comes out. Add your cooked potatoes and the roughly chopped fresh endive (you don’t have to cook them) some milk, some fresh nutmeg,salt and pepper and mash everything together. Serve with smoked sausage on top. Eet Smakelijk! (Enjoy Your Meal)

    Mar 29, 2011 | 3:18 pm

  15. Footloose says:

    @FestiveRevel, that’s Eskinol me thinks.

    Mar 29, 2011 | 7:33 pm

  16. E J says:

    What the British call chicory is called endive by the Americans – and what is called endive by the British is called chicory by Americans!
    To add to the confusion, Belgian/French endive, the greenish white bulb (called chicory by the British and endive by Americans), is called witlof by the Dutch and witloof by the Belgians.

    Mar 29, 2011 | 7:40 pm

  17. Footloose says:

    Would this be the same chicory that they use as coffee substitute or enhancement?

    Mar 29, 2011 | 7:43 pm

  18. E J says:

    @ Footloose, the coffee substitute comes from the roots of the leaf chicory (not the bulb chicory).

    Mar 29, 2011 | 8:19 pm

  19. Rowi says:

    Hej MM,
    You certainly have a way of hitting the spot with this post as a similar write-up on bitter salads was featured on the recent Financial Times Weekend. The regular columnist Rowley Leigh wrote about endive and cicoria (which I had curiously bought in Sicily and thought it was a regular Italian chicory). Here’s the link to the article:


    Mar 30, 2011 | 5:06 pm

  20. C Fusion says:

    So, what is frisée in Tagalog/Pilipino

    May 17, 2012 | 8:24 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    C Fusion, I am not aware of a tagalog word for frisee, it isn’t commonly available. In fact, I have yet to actually try a locally grown frisee, other types of chicory yes, but they too go by the English name I think…

    May 17, 2012 | 8:29 pm


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