02 Oct2005

Patola / Angled Loofah

by Marketman

Angled Luffa (Luffa acutangula) is one of two commonly available pat1types of patola in the Philippine archipelago. Closely related, the Angled Luffa is distinguished by ten sharp ridges as opposed to the other type of patola that has a smoother, rounder skin. When the smoother loofah is allowed to grow really big and mature, it is stripped of its skin, seeds removed and dried until it becomes a “loofah” used in the bath! Isn’t that outrageous? So soft, silky and slimy as a kid and then when it gets too old it is used as a sponge or scrub to remove dead skin flakes in the bath… Apparently we have huge plantations of patola up North all meant to be made into sponges… no wonder loofahs at Shoemart are just PHP15-25 a piece while at the nearby Body Shops they cost 3 to 4 times as much!

At any rate, the angled loofah does make good eats. pat2Sauteed as a vegetable, it is like a silkier zucchini. It is a great vehicle for other flavor agents hence its use with dried or fresh shrimps, pork, garlic, etc. Patola seems to suck up all of the flavors around it. Some folks (like Marketman for the first 30 years of his life) do not like the slimy nature of this vegetable and I can still understand that reaction… sort of like the aversion to overcooked okra. Nevertheless, patola is also commonly eaten throughout the tropical world. A native of India, it thrives around the globe in countries close to the equator. It is also frequently used in soups with noodles in China and Southeast Asia. In our house, it appears mostly in a soup with pork meatballs, misua noodles, garlic and lots of chicken broth. It is particularly good on a damp rainy night. I haven’t really maximized my enjoyment of this vegetable and am curious how Market Manila readers like to prepare it… perhaps I can coax a new or interesting recipe from some of you?

 

COMMENTS:

  1. Jose says:

    I like it cooked with misua and sardines in tomato sauce (sardinas for short), and used as toppings to a perfectly cooked purple mountain rice mixed with denorado or jasmine rice, and eaten by hand as lunch on a very rainy or stormy day, inside a nipa hut after a hard morning’s work at the farm (or any physical activity for that matter, where one get’s soaking wet with rain and shivering with cold). Best eaten while steaming hot.

    Oct 2, 2005 | 5:37 pm

     
  2. bayi & ssk says:

    In Malaysia, the Chinese and the Malays eat loofah fried with eggs slightly differently. The Malays eat with the skin intact, which makes the loofah very fibrous and rough. The Chinese peel or slice the skin away and the loofah tastes smooth this way. How do the Filipinos eat their loofah?

    Oct 2, 2005 | 8:20 pm

     
  3. Marketman says:

    Bayi and ssk, most Filipinos I think do peel their loofah and cook it so that it is smooth and silky, perhaps with the aid of Chinese influence in the way it is prepared. I understand it can be eaten unpeeled but others find that it is bitter unless the loofah is very young. Jose, that description of your loofah recipe sounds spectacular. I am not a big sardine fan but if I were, I’d be in the kitchen cooking it up right now…

    Oct 2, 2005 | 8:33 pm

     
  4. rina says:

    i’ve seen it stuffed with a ground pork or chicken or shrimp mixture, cut into thick rings and served in a light broth. nice both nothing beats misua with patola and meatballs steaming hot

    Oct 2, 2005 | 9:18 pm

     
  5. Hchie says:

    This is comfort food for me. We saute it in garlic, onions and lots of shrimps ( head & peelings beaten mushy in a mortar and pestle for juice), then the strained shrimp juice is added and then the Patola (sliced crosswise .5cm thick). Cook till just tender and still bright green in colour, then add misua. We usually have it with crispy fried Tilapia or pork tocino. Now this is yum!

    Oct 3, 2005 | 8:32 am

     
  6. fried-neurons says:

    Wow! Loofah is patola? I had no idea! Thanks again for teaching me something new!

    *runs off to bug mom to cook some patola with miswa*

    Oct 3, 2005 | 2:58 pm

     
  7. Alicia says:

    There is a really good patola dish at Peking Garden in Glorietta. It is patola cooked with two types of scallops. It seems as if it simmered with fresh scallops, garlic and onions and then topped with shredded dried scallops. Sounds simple enough I know, but I have tried to re-create this at home but to no avail. If you have any ideas they would be much appreciated!

    Oct 8, 2005 | 8:46 am

     
  8. Marketman says:

    Alicia, I haven’t tried the dish you have mentioned but will keep my eyes and ears peeled for something similar…

    Oct 8, 2005 | 10:45 am

     
 

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