16 Jan2010


The produce is gorgeous and abundant. The selection enticing. And the prices have come down since the pre-Christmas madness. I was up bright and early this morning to forage at the FTI Saturday market and got there just as the sun was rising. I was greeted with an extremely robust set of vegetable offerings. Produce from the Mt. Province has apparently recovered from the storms a couple of months ago, and the cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots were absolutely stunning. My favorite find this morning? Some “native” or more thin-skinned unusually shaped “heirloom-esque” tomatoes that are great in local salads or chopped/smushed into local dips or sawsawan.


I also got some incredible pako or fiddlehead ferns, locally grown young fennel (fronds in photo above), miniature eggplants, ampalaya (bitter gourds), squash blossoms, okra etc. for a pinakbet or vegetable stew. There was fresh dayap, incredible asparagus and lots of leafy herbs. Got all the basics too. It’s so nice to shop at a market when there is this kind of abundance. I know many readers are thinking of eating lighter and healthier meals after the holiday binge, so it’s time to get to a market near you. Not a supermarket, a wet market. :)

Postscript – A few more notes on these tomatoes, after some questions raised in the comments section.

I have written about these “native” tomatoes before, here, and in that post is a link to Karen of Pilgrims and Pots’ post on the same variety of tomatoes, here. Sister wonders if these might be similar to an Italian variety that look the same, and while they could be, I am more inclined to believe these are about as “native” or as “local” as they get. Probably our mutated or naturally evolved version of the tomato/seeds introduced by the Spaniards/Mexicans several hundred years ago.


This particular type of local tomatoes have been getting scarcer and scarcer to find, probably due to the fact that they have nearly no shelf life. Picked green and transported from Ilocos to Manila (top photo), these ripen VERY FAST and get incredibly soft and mushy within 36-48 hours from the first photograph above. In fact, in the third photo above, the fruit has gone from green to pinkish orangey green in less than 24 hours. With a very thin skin and watery pulp, these are good for particular uses, but vary noticeably from more standard meaty salad or stewing tomatoes. For me, they will be perfect in a salsa/dip for fried fish by dinner time this evening.


These native or local tomatoes typically DO NOT turn the rich ripe red orange of a more classic salad tomato (at least the ones available in Manila, as opposed to all the wonderful colors of salad tomatoes in the U.S. and Europe during the summer months). That’s a salad tomato on the left of the photo, I have been ripening it on the kitchen counter for 3-4 days before it reached this stage.


Instead, I find the local tomatoes get a light red/pinkish blush when fully ripe. In this final photo, two local tomatoes from the same batch as the top tomato are photographed upside down to show you how they ripe from below… While I generally agree that some folks, like myself, would love the vine-ripened flavorful tomatoes Sister refers to, and are defnitely willing to pay more, the reality in the Philippines is that the vast majority of tomatoes purchased are used for home “gisa” or sofrittos or soups like sinigang, so the bulk of the population tends to buy their tomatoes a little unripe, and keeps them at home for the whole week in varying stages of ripeness as they cook with them.



  1. faithful reader says:

    I love green tomato’s as sawsawan. I like it better then the red ones. I love the tartness and crunch it has especially with onion and green mango. Also have you tried fried green tomatoes? Oh they are soooooo good. It is worth trying!

    Jan 16, 2010 | 1:38 pm


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  3. tina says:

    Even here in Ilocos, its hard to find heirloom tomatoes nowadays. When i do find some, a true-blue ilocano pinakbet (no kalabasa, please)is sure to be the lunch of the day. Accompanied by KBL – Kamatis, Bagnet, Bagoong, Lasona (chives). So much for eating healthy….sigh.

    Jan 16, 2010 | 4:03 pm

  4. Pinoy Organics says:

    We’ve always been curious what’s in FTI. How is it different from Salcedo’s and/or Legaspi weekend markets in Makati? Please post the location and operating hours so we can check it out soon.

    Thanks Market Manila for your love for food and writing.

    Jan 16, 2010 | 4:37 pm

  5. Gia Mayol says:

    Off topic but I just wanted to greet you. Pit Señor, MM!

    Jan 16, 2010 | 4:38 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    Thanks Gia! I am not in Cebu this weekend but I understand it is a bit wet and rainy… I hope it clears up for the parade tomorrow! :(

    Jan 16, 2010 | 5:09 pm

  7. B says:

    FTI is my favorite market. MUCH MUCH better, more selection, less overpriced than Salcedo/Legazpi

    Jan 16, 2010 | 6:10 pm

  8. sister says:

    Those are like the Italian heirloom tomatoes, look in the book for the correct name. No tomatoes here worth buying until July. Why do they pick them so green, it needs a few more days on the vine…

    Jan 16, 2010 | 6:58 pm

  9. denise says:

    MM…nice finds! re: cebu trip…i’m dead flat broke again and have to move cebu trip (and zubuchon!)until my next vacation! :(

    sister…I think it has to do with so the tomatoes will not get bruised too much from their travel…if it were picked a day or 2 from being fully ripe, they won’t survive or there would be alot of collateral damage

    Jan 16, 2010 | 9:50 pm

  10. thelma says:

    whenever i have a lot of green tomatoes from my tomato plants,
    they end up as green fried tomatoes or sawsawan with bagoong.
    last summer, an elderly patient of ours gave me a green tomato
    pie. she added yellow raisins and almost has hint of cinammon
    and nutmeg to it…interesting. she said that it’s an old family
    recipe. this pie had a flaky crust which made it really good…

    Jan 16, 2010 | 10:10 pm

  11. sister says:

    Denise, they have to pay more respect to their tomatoes and pick them and put them directly onlo shallow boxes instead of piling them fifty deep in a kaing. They could get better prices for well treated tomatoes. Boxes can be reused.

    Jan 16, 2010 | 10:41 pm

  12. Vicky Go says:

    Eating “green” dictates eating locally & seasonally – tenets very hard to adhere to here in the USA unless you live in a big city hub like Chicago, Boston, DC or NYC (and of course SF & LA) where the farmer’s markets continue to function year round. Here in NJ burbs – these markets are only on in late spring to early fall. And it can be very expensive trying to buy organic/local produce at supermarkets. Consider yourself very lucky in this aspect, living there in RP, Manila or the Visayan provinces where fresh veggies as well as fish & seafood, are abundant & readily available year-round as well as being reasonably priced!

    Jan 17, 2010 | 3:52 am

  13. Rose G. says:

    Just wanted to know if the FTI market is open on sundays thanks

    Jan 17, 2010 | 7:37 am

  14. Marketman says:

    Rose G., yes FTI is open on Sundays, but the best selection is available early on Saturdays. By Sunday, you are looking at picked over produce. B., I agree, we spend nearly 70-80% of our weekly marketing budget at FTI, maybe 5% at Salcedo if that, and the rest on seafood from Seaside market. Occasionally, I make it to Farmer’s market, The Sunday Lung Center market, and Legaspi Market… Sister, a few more photos of the tomatoes up soon… in answer to your queries.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 8:08 am

  15. denise says:

    sister…I grew up traveling on the MacArthur Hway and North Luzon Expressway, and sadly the way they transport veggies and fruits have not changed much since the early 80’s…I think I’ve only seen boxes used by farms such as Dole, Del Monte,Herbana and Dizon

    Jan 17, 2010 | 8:20 am

  16. millet says:

    those are the tomatoes i grew up with. i remember being fascinted by the deep ridges all the time. my sister and i would try to find the weirdest-shaped tomatoes in my mom’s basket.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 9:58 am

  17. joey says:

    You are so right about the produce! Lovely! I got a few of those very same tomatoes and we are going to have them “ensaladang pinoy” style with fried fish for lunch today :)

    Jan 17, 2010 | 10:58 am

  18. emsy says:

    I love these kinds of tomatoes…if picked manibalang, they have more bite and a little crunch to them that’s great with fried or grilled food. I actually also bought some of these tomatoes, as they were very abundant in the markets.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 3:16 pm

  19. el_jefe says:

    We call heirloom tomatoes ”kamatis kastila” here in Batangas…great for salads though these tomatoes have shorter shelf life compared to regular tomatoes…heirloom tomatoes are common in batangas markets during summer…

    Jan 17, 2010 | 11:42 pm

  20. sister says:

    Tomatoes do not all have to be bright red to be dead ripe, it depends on the variety. And I’ve forgotten that most tomatoes in the Philippines are used for sauteing, not for salads as we do here. I don’t like mushy or over ripe tomatoes, either, and even the Italians like it slightly under ripe like most Filipinos do.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 9:09 pm

  21. Yasmin says:

    Hello MM..Where is FTI? —ooops! i know already :)

    Jan 19, 2010 | 5:40 pm

  22. chel says:

    Hi MM! Is that the one at the back of sunshine mall? thanks!

    Jan 20, 2010 | 10:33 am


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