20 Jan2013


I love buying leafy and other produce in Philippine markets in January and February. The relatively cooler and often calmer weather of November, December and January yields spectacular pickings. In the photo above, some young garlic, fresh from the farm it seems from the color of their leaves. I love to use these in slow cooked stews, and they are perfect in a slow-cooked adobo that we do in palayoks over wood flames. The garlic flavor is there, but not yet too intense, plus it sweetens as it poaches in lard…


You don’t see these that often in markets, so whenever I do spot them, I buy them, regardless if I have any dishes planned. I let the produce drive the dish. The more consumers buy locally grown ingredients such as this, instead of say imported bulbs of Taiwanese or Mainland Chinese garlic, the more we encourage local farmers to keep their farms going. It truly saddens me to watch folks in groceries shopping for their vegetables and fruit sometimes. There just seems to be so little thought that goes into what they are buying, where it might have been grown, who is impacted by purchasing options they make, and what is the price of eating what they want to eat, when they want to eat it. I know the primary concern is often cost and convenience, but I suspect I could buy local, and fresh and vibrant, and save money as well, with just a bit of intelligent thought and careful shopping. I have nothing against imported goods, I just like the idea of buying local when it comes to produce.


At another stall at the Salcedo market, they had these wonderfully fresh chinese greens. Beautiful. I am pretty sure it comes from their farm or it is delivered to them straight from the farm, and I regret not asking the name of the stall. But they often only have 3-4 items, but lots of them. Today they had basil, chinese greens, arugula and pechay, below. They were reasonably priced and everything just looked so appetizing. I have been critical of many vendors at Salcedo that just have the most astronomical prices for their produce (mostly middlemen, not direct growers or producers), but there are several exceptions. I particularly love the Herbana Farms stall, the Down2 Earth stall, and a few others like this one where I got the greens…


Pechay doesn’t often excite me, but these ones looked like the kind of pechay I wish I grew in second grade at those school yard vegetable plots. Mine always started off looking good, then all kinds of evil would attack their leaves or a lack of water would yield yellowing icky looking pechay by harvest time… :)


And while produce from Mindanao should be brilliant right now, the recent storms have ravaged farms… So it was a wonderful surprise to find locally grown frisee in abundance at the Down to Earth stall of Nico Aberasturi, I bought three packs, and will have a salad for lunch with bacon and poached eggs. I am SO HAPPY this type of lettuce is grown here now. Top Manila restaurant owners and buyers take note, beat a path to Nico’s door and start using this lettuce, it is wonderful!




  1. Debbie says:

    The young garlic brings back memories of the fresh Chinese lumpia my family prepares for Chinese New Year every year when I was growing up in Cebu. We seldom get them in Cebu though, it’s usually someone bringing it from Manila.

    Jan 20, 2013 | 12:35 pm


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  3. EbbaBlue says:

    I love all the veggies that you bought, kindda sad kasi hindi ako nakapag-tanim on this cool weather kasi nga medical reasons, at sa coming mid summer hindi pa rin ako makagawa sa square foot garden ko, so I will have to rely on markets close by me. Wish ko nga lang, hindi lang weekend sila bukas, kundi daily.. but I’ll get what I can put my hands on. In the meantime, ayos na rin yung produce section sa mga Oriental stores in the area.

    Jan 20, 2013 | 1:31 pm

  4. Mel Wood says:

    Have you tried cooking pansit with only young garlic for veggies and using sotanghon? If you love the flavour of garlic you’d love this dish. I like mine with sabaw, unfortunately, when it cools down, the sotanghon absorbs the broth.

    Jan 20, 2013 | 4:49 pm

  5. chreylle says:

    I agree with mel wood,. We cooked it everytime i chance young garlic at the market. Its really good and appetizing soup n’ viand in one :)

    Jan 20, 2013 | 6:44 pm

  6. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    ‘It truly saddens me to watch folks in groceries shopping for their vegetables and fruit sometimes. There just seems to be so little thought that goes into what they are buying, where it might have been grown, who is impacted by purchasing options they make, and what is the price of eating what they want to eat, when they want to eat it. I know the primary concern is often cost and convenience, but I suspect I could buy local, and fresh and vibrant, and save money as well, with just a bit of intelligent thought and careful shopping. I have nothing against imported goods, I just like the idea of buying local when it comes to produce.’

    *sigh* I agree.

    Jan 21, 2013 | 4:07 am

  7. betty q. says:

    With your young garlic, MM, I am thinking grilling them like Calcots…I will have mega young garlic in the spring. I allotted 2 of my garden plots in th community garden which measures 20 by 25 feet to garlic.

    Ebba…my latest obsession is Roasted Korean Sweet Potatoes. I buy them early in the morning from a Korean superstore near our place. I now know just the right time to go there just as they come out of this contraption that they use in store. They are by far the best sweet potatoes I have ever tasted. I bought quite a few rAw ones so I can start the slips to plant them in late spring. if you see them at Korean stores near TX…do try them…ang saaaaarap!

    Nacho and Gejo…I am now scouring seed magazines the company sends to me every year and am planning what to buy. If you can give me a list of vegetable seeds you would like to try, just send me a short note. This year, I will be trying yellow radishes called Zlata or Helios, a yellow watermelon with yellow rind and yellow flesh together with a watermelon called sOrbet Swirl, and a must for me are the 2013 AAS winners vegetable category. For peas, Nacho, there is a variety called Sugar lAce…snap peas with no staking needed for the peas use the tendrils as support….not much leaves but a lot of tendrils which MM would like to try. They still have the pea shoots of course…

    Jan 21, 2013 | 4:14 am

  8. alilay says:

    in Batangas we pickle this young garlic shoots so good with sinaing na tulingan, inihaw na liempo and fish i was able to bring a jar of “burong bawang” as we call it here in los angeles. i hope the Hmong farmers cultivate this will check their market on Friday, they do have talbos ng ampalaya and saluyot …

    Jan 21, 2013 | 4:35 am

  9. linda says:

    MM, I like how you quoted “Let the produce drive the dish”. That’s how I exactly plan my menu for the week. I always buy the fresh seasonal produce from our local farmers market every Sunday and I find that my vegies and fruits do stay fresh even after a week in the fridge. When I was in Pinas last year we went grocery shopping in one of the large supermarkets and I was shocked to see the poor quality of fruit and vegetables being sold there…..it was inedible! I agree with Getter Dragon “it’s sad”.

    Jan 21, 2013 | 5:34 am

  10. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    @betty q/EbbaBlue…Oh my, are you in the Bay Area too? I get roasted sweet potatoes from an old fellow in front of a Korean supermarket when I’m in the area. Its mostly for personal amusement as well as looking out for the little guy. But they are hot and delicious. The employees like to call him the ‘cametero’.

    Preparing roasted sweet potatoes are easy at home. I score a bunch at the farmers market, usually the small and uniquely shaped ones. They keep for a long time in a dark space. I’ll clean a bunch and have them ready for whenever I need them. For cooking, I use a toaster oven at 375 F. I’ll take 4-5 camote in a pie tin and cook them for about 30-45 min. I’m not too particular on the ‘doneness’ as long as they’re cooked. Sometimes al dente or mushy. It depends on the timing/cooling. The exception is when I’m preparing recipes like when I did roasted sweet potato mash for the holidays. When done and depending on what I’m doing, they’re either a munchie, pre/post workout snack or something convenient to eat while on my way to work.

    Jan 21, 2013 | 6:05 am

  11. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Coincidently, I just got done watering my bawang in the garden.

    @Linda – I agree with MM’s statement too and do what you do as well. Letting my purchases drive my weekly menu. Its a little frustrating though cuz its like one more thing on my mind as the week progresses. But its satisfying when its cooked and on my plate.

    But here’s another thing I’ve noticed with Asian markets vs mainstream grocers. Generally stores like 99 Ranch have both Asian and Western produce at lower prices. However Asian stores sometimes pre-package their produce in plastic/styrofoam which can be frustrating when making selections. But unlike 99 Ranch, I’ve found stores like Seafood City where the produce isn’t all that fresh or in limited variety. Same could be said for some the tindahans. It begs questions regarding our food culture. Not to say food snobery, but for sure there’s some history behind it. Aside from a marvelous blog, I really appreciate the comments. There are so many answers uncovered.

    Jan 21, 2013 | 6:17 am

  12. PITS, MANILA says:

    remembering how pechay-tagalog can be very expensive in thailand. B220/kilo (B1.00=P1.4)… imagine that …

    Jan 21, 2013 | 6:25 am

  13. Betchay says:

    @Melwood and Chyrelle: that’s also how my mom used to cook young garlic…with sotanghon..yum!
    We just had a bunch of fresh Pechay in our hotpot this weekend….very nutritious!
    MM, how was the sinulog this year despite the political controversies?

    Jan 21, 2013 | 7:39 am

  14. rosa says:

    i feel bad as i am one of those who buy produce without much thought :( i guess i never really learned how to properly buy produce from the wet market, and therefore, just attack the grocery coolers based on what the recipe calls for.

    i WILL, however, try to be more mindful, given your challenge here.

    Jan 21, 2013 | 9:30 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Betchay, melwood and chyrelle, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE try to describe in more detail how that sotanghon was made, I would like to try cooking it. Was the young garlic sauteed or just boiled… was it in chicken or pork stock? What other things were added… It definitely sounds intriguing and a good use of this ingredient…

    Jan 21, 2013 | 10:10 am

  16. betty q. says:

    MM…no offence to Ilocanos or Cebuanos but the sotanghon with young garlic could be Tagalog sotanghon for my mom and our dear departed Lola Ta cooked this all the time. it is basically the same like you would make guisa with the usual stuff like garlic, onions, pork or chicken (my mom made it with chicken), seasoning, then the young garlic cut in lengths like green onions, then the stock then the sotanghon. …Oh…I forgot the astuete! I remember it being orange sotanghon! We preferred it dry though…and no KEROTS like my mom would say!

    Jan 21, 2013 | 12:12 pm

  17. Nacho says:

    betty q, thanks very much for the offer, i would gladly try most anything even if I do not have a venue to sell my experiments except at the farm and our little store on the way up to Tagaytay. I have had a few requests for Mache salad aka: lambs lettuce or corn lettuce. Many have asked me for Heirloom tomatoes, which I know I can do successfully but we go back again to whether people are willing to pay for this kind of produce. So I will leave it up to you to surprise Gejo and I with your choices. I know I am passing the buck here but I have limited experience with specialty veggies at this point. MM might be able to give us some suggestions as well.
    I have been successful with quite a few herbs as well, I prefer planting the perennial kinds as my nursery does get full with my usual varieties.

    Jan 21, 2013 | 3:37 pm

  18. betty q. says:

    here is what I suggest, Nacho and to Gejo as well…for this year, I am buying the bulk of my seeds from Territorial Seeds…only because they have most of what I would like to try planting for this year. Another is they are based in Oregon which is just across the border from me. So, I will receive them faster I think. Another seed source is West Coast seeds which is here In the Lower Mainland. They sell seeds which is conducive for our climate…short summers! And they have heirloom tomatoes and mostly open pollinated! So, go on line and choose whatever you want and then send me an email…please ask MM! I will take it from there once I receive your e mail!

    hey footloose, I found a seed source for that freaky looking pepper you shared the pic before! I have placed an order and they are I think in Oregon! Maybe Nacho and Gejo would like to try planting it too!

    Jan 22, 2013 | 5:56 am

  19. Footloose says:

    @BettyQ, that was far from freaky looking, they might have been tiny but they were perfectly formed.

    Jan 22, 2013 | 9:35 am

  20. Fards says:

    Thanks, bettyq. Just requested a catalog. Don’t know if I will have a garden this year but maybe a half barrel only. Am packing and will be moving south.

    Jan 22, 2013 | 2:43 pm

  21. Mel Wood says:

    MM, our version of this garlic sotanghon is basically with shrimps only, using the juice extracted from the shrimps’ heads for flavouring. I suppose, pork and chicken meat will also taste good. I don’t put any other veggies, so it’s more of a green pansit with the young leaves of the garlic. First, I sautee the garlic (the young bulbs sliced thinly) then add the shrimps, fry, then the shrimp juice and seasoning. I don’t put achuete in this because I like the color to be white and green only, plus the pink of the shrimp. Then I add the green leaves till wilted. I don’t want to overcook the shrimp so I remove them from the pot. Put more broth (if you have ready stock), depending on how much broth you want in your pansit. Boil. The sotanghon noodles is boiled in a separate pot, so it doesn’t absorb all the liquid. When ready, mix it all together, adjust seasoning. You will probably find it easier to do it your own way because it’s basically just cooking pansit with just young garlic for veggies. And may sabaw nang kaunti.

    Jan 22, 2013 | 6:26 pm

  22. greens_blossoms says:

    Betchay, melwood and chyrelle…nice to know am not the only one that eats that young garlic with sotanghon!!!! My lola would saute that also with shrimp only and some broth and sotanghon and would add atsuete for color – but ours was not so pansit like – not too much sotanghon…the star of the dish was still the young garlic…Hmmmmm it has been awhile since we cooked that – I usually would chance upon young garlic in divisoria!

    Jan 22, 2013 | 7:56 pm

  23. el_jefe says:

    ohh its young garlic season jan-feb march is the harvest time…In Batangas we make ”buro” out of it and when the ”sabaw ng buro” becomes stale (not sour anymore) my lola would make a sugar-vinegar based syrup similar to ”timplang atchara” and would put in a jar..best eaten with anthing frito (fish, pork or pindang/tapang kalabaw).

    Yes Ms Betty Q, same here in Tanauan, folks would toss young garlic with sotanghon and shredded chicken and ”taingang daga”. My folks call it ”pancit bawang” and I think its part of their ”pang-araw-araw” fare…sarap niyan! matamis-tamis yung bawang lalo na pag fresh na fresh! hehe!

    Jan 23, 2013 | 10:42 pm

  24. betty q. says:

    el_jefe…do you know how to make your lola’s burong bawang? Is it similar to the burong mustasa? I used to eat a lot of burong mustasa my mom used to make though it doesn’t digest properly and out it goes as is! In a couple of months, I could plant my little cloves of soft neck garlic in 2 months and harvest young garlic in a couple of months thereafter. Nakakahinayang to pull out the nice big cloves of soft neck garlic planted in the fall.

    Jan 24, 2013 | 3:17 am

  25. Gej says:

    Hi betty q, nacho! Just saw the thread now. Thanks for the suggestion1 Dec – March is the time I experiment with new seeds, specially from colder climates. It’s very hit and miss – few succeed – but it’s a lot of fun. Every gardener yearns for that moment to discover a new plant sprout, send out new leaves, flower fruit and seed.
    It’s quite challenging too to keep track of how they fare! Ha ha, betty, I’ve lost track of many of the seeds you sent before! Even the borloloy beans – remember? Ha ha!

    Jan 24, 2013 | 9:42 pm

  26. Meg says:

    My Dad used to make this young garlic with sotanghon, bits of pork, tokwa and shrimp and sliced radish. Basically you saute the shrimp and pork in onion and add the sliced radish, young garlic and tokwa, add some broth and and sotanghon minutes after. This young garlic dish is traditional here in Mandaluyong.

    Jan 25, 2013 | 2:43 am

  27. Tracy says:

    Sometimes I get intimidated by weekend markets. I don’t know how to interact with vendors.

    Jan 27, 2013 | 4:13 pm

  28. Betchay says:

    Sorry, I just read MM’s call today.My mom’s version is more of a soupy sotanghon.Saute young bulb whole or halved and sliced shallots.Add small to medium sized shrimps specifically suahe till pink then add a few sitsaro(Chinese snap peas-smaller ones) and cauliflower florets.After a little sauteeing of the veggies, add shrimp juice from pounded shrimp heads and broth/water and then add the softened sotanghon.Lastly add the green leaves of the young garlic (cut about 2-3 inches) till wilted.Seasoned with just sea salt and cracked pepper and a little patis.Add more broth depending on how much soupy you want your pancit.No achuete coloring for our version.That’s it!The sitsaro and cauliflower are just probably extenders…what dominates is the young garlic flavor.

    BettyQ, I love burong mustasa too….just sauteed with lots of onions and tomatoes and beaten eggs.Yumyum!

    Jan 28, 2013 | 10:42 pm

  29. Dulce says:

    MM, we cook a lot with young garlic leaves, using it as green vegetables sauteed with a little 5 spice tofu and some other Chinese ingredients. We serve it either as is or use these cooked mixture for our fried spring roll. Of course Thais love their young pickled garlic.

    Jan 30, 2013 | 6:50 pm

  30. greens_blossoms says:

    Bought young garlic today at Divi P100/kilo….. We peel off the bulbs and slice them and just use the soft part of the stems…we don’t use the leaves…and sauté in pork and shrimps…atsuete..and sotanghon…not too soupy….

    Feb 1, 2013 | 6:00 pm


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