13 Feb2012

Some of the small batch of heirloom tomatoes that persevered through the recent floods in Cagayan de Oro/Bukidnon. I was so excited to spot them (I have been harking for years why no one seems to be able to grow these locally) that I bought a pack DESPITE their having been obviously previously refrigerated. Bummer. DO NOT EVER refrigerate your tomatoes… they turn mealy, as these did. But kudos to Down to Earth for bringing them to market, I will be a regular buyer if these are available and unrefrigerated. :)

Freshly peeled patani, FTI market.

Gorgeous cherry tomatoes, actually from S&R, and not a market.

Small or juvenile native white onions. These probably started out as classic white or spanish onions, but over the years, have evolved into a native version that yields a more opaque, sweet and texturally distinct onion. I think they are the classic pair for a proper bistek tagalog, but they are nice in stews and other dishes as well. They aren’t always available, having been overrun by cheaper Chinese imports, but I buy this local variety whenever I can. FTI market.

Veggies were definitely on a roll this past weekend… even the zucchini were gorgeous! Normally sold 4-6x this size, it was always hard to convince folks transporting zucchinis from the Mt. Province to bring the small ones. But over the weekend, I found several zucchinis that were just 7-8 inches in length, and just a little thicker than my thumb. Yum. FTI market.

Young leaves of a sampalok or tamarind tree. FTI market.

Guyabano leaves, boil them into a soothing tea, the vendor suggested. FTI market.

Two varieties of kamote or sweet potato. FTI market.

A very fresh but utterly bitter bunch of ampalaya (bitter gourd) tendrils. FTI Market.

Finally, baby or immature garlic. A personal favorite. I am always pleased to see this in the markets. I like putting them in classic dishes like adobo, where they perfume the dish, but don’t overwhelm. FTI Market.

Now I need to get cooking. :)



  1. Zerho says:

    Excellent produce and pictures MM! This reminds me of weekends in our home where marketing is done on Sundays. Thus we always have fresh fruits and vegetables for sunday lunch, a healthy and cheaper tradition that going to fast food.

    Feb 13, 2012 | 11:36 am


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  3. Pam says:

    Thank you for this, MM! Must visit FTI soon. Hopefully, there will still be some fresh produce available.

    Feb 13, 2012 | 12:00 pm

  4. Yvette says:

    Wow – so beautiful! I am here in Uzbekistan and EVERYTHING is dead. Very little at the markets, due to the rare ongoing cold weather. It’s been mostly root veggies and squashes (awesome w/ coconut milk and ginger!) Of course, coming from the States – where you can buy anything at anytime (not normal), it is a bit of a relief to know that I live by the seasons overseas. I can’t wait to visit the Philippines this summer. The boyfriend has moved to Makati and I’ve sent him your blog to help him get around. :)

    Feb 13, 2012 | 12:22 pm

  5. Tonette says:

    Thanks, MM, for the photos! They strengthen my resolve to go back home (for good) in a few years. I can’t wait to settle back and eat the vegetables I grew up with. I love Japanese food and I surely will miss it. But nothing will ever compare to down-to-earth all-Filipino food!

    Feb 13, 2012 | 12:46 pm

  6. Elizabeth says:

    I love the heirloom tomatoes, young sampaloc leaves and the spring/baby garlic! Remembering these ingredients in my grandma’s cooking! Thanks for the post and the photos, MM!

    Feb 13, 2012 | 3:38 pm

  7. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Cannot wait for spring and summer!! yes we get everything here.. out of season, but there is no comparison on taste of homegrown heirloom tomatoes and other veggies .Those pictures of produce are so beautiful.

    Feb 13, 2012 | 4:01 pm

  8. Jannah (Abu Dhabi) says:

    Very nice photos MM. The talbos ng sampalok and ampalaya look good and I love camote. I miss our tumana(farm) in Nueva Ecija.

    Feb 13, 2012 | 4:11 pm

  9. Rowi says:

    Hej MM,
    Very inspiring and lovely photos! I love the tamarind and ampalaya leaves, so fresh-looking. I have yet to try fresh from the pod patanis. And the Guyabano leaves as tisane? That’s amazing! On the other hand the leaves are very aromatic, so it’s not surprising that these could be infused and enjoyed as a soothing drink. Thanks for your info, I am encouraged to plant guyabano from seed, again. I planted seeds ages ago and gave away a couple of beautiful plants to a green-thumbed friend, when we moved out of the country. The plants are now handsome-looking trees that have been grown indoors!

    Feb 13, 2012 | 5:49 pm

  10. erleen says:

    I love ginisang bawang. My mom cooks them with shrimps, pork, sotanghon and cubed labanos. Sabaw must be made with the crushed shrimp heads.

    Feb 13, 2012 | 6:11 pm

  11. EJ says:

    Wonderful variety of (mostly) native vegetables! Hope you keep promoting our native produce, MM.

    Feb 13, 2012 | 7:29 pm

  12. Jaja Solis says:

    I am intrigued by the guyabano leaves. we have a tree here in our backyard. Do you have to dry them before boiling or use the fresh ones? Gorgeous pictures especially the cherry tomatoes :)

    Feb 13, 2012 | 9:34 pm

  13. chreylle says:

    hi mm!! my mom love the baby garlic or bawang na mura (in tagalog) . i usually bought mine at farmers market (hard to find) ,. for her, its the key ingredients for sotanghon (vermicelli noodle) na may sabaw , yummy

    Feb 13, 2012 | 9:59 pm

  14. Footloose says:

    Is green garlic the same as garlic chive? When I was a young boy a playmate’s mom offered me to taste crisp okoy made with green garlic and tiny fresh anchovies. I remember it only because that was never done at home.

    An Ilocano kumpare of mine does not consider his pinakbet authentic unless it includes patani.

    Feb 13, 2012 | 10:40 pm

  15. bff-bear@hotmail.com says:

    Ok…you are most certainly pulling my leg, Footloose!!!! I cannot believe my ears and eyes! YOU ARE MR. WALKING ENCYCLOPEDIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On second thought, maybe that comment (#13) was made by your twin brother?

    If you have any leftover young garlic…include them when making those addictive Korean pancakes….yummmm or in potstickers!

    I cannot wait till spring when the garlic I planted can be pulled out…I plant hard neck and soft varieties…the big cloves of soft neck garlic are left in the ground to mature and the small cloves are pulled out for bawang na mura!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 12:46 am

  16. PITS, MANILA says:

    i remember patani in sotanghaon dishes. saute’d with shrimps or ground pork plus the sotanghon. or in pinakbet. i have never used garlic (baby, immature) in anything. must try this. have never tried the guyabano leaves as well. wondering what they taste like. have tasted the ‘lagundi’ … very bitter and traumatizes my throat, hahaha! the sampalok leaves, we use for sinampalukang manok.

    Feb 14, 2012 | 7:40 am

  17. Lysa says:

    Awesome looking veggies! Are heirloom tomatoes expensive in your markets there? They are a bit pricey here (California) but so worth it. The cherry tomatoes are gorgeous indeed!

    Feb 14, 2012 | 9:40 am

  18. Jose says:

    never thought you can eat young sampalok leaves. where do you usually use these?

    Feb 14, 2012 | 2:15 pm

  19. ami says:

    Jose – in our house we use the leaves for sinampalukang manok and sinigang.

    Feb 14, 2012 | 3:41 pm

  20. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    The scent of ampalaya leaves reminds me of summer.

    Feb 14, 2012 | 4:10 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    Jose, as a souring agent for soups or broths. Lysa, yes, heirlooms are pricey here… but then again this is the FIRST time I have ever seen and purchased these types of heirlooms in the Philippines, so they deserve the premium for their efforts to bring them to market… jaja, just boil the leaves and drink the tea… it smells a bit ?!@#!, but it’s supposed to be good for you. :)

    Feb 14, 2012 | 4:28 pm

  22. january says:

    i love my mother’s cooking of patani with kalamias and pechay tagalog, it’s the perfect pair of daing na bangus :)

    Feb 14, 2012 | 4:46 pm

  23. ykmd says:

    That biggest heirloom looks like the perfect size for layering into a caprese salad. Gorgeous produce!

    Feb 15, 2012 | 1:08 am

  24. Anne :-) says:

    Hi MM,

    Just an FYI…most local sibuyas (white and red) and bawang are locally grown in Nueva Ecija where my friend resides…he just bought a hug sack of both produce and they’re good…also, they grow some amazing corns and coffee beans there…isn’t that surprising? I always thought garlic and onions nowadays in the market are mostly from Taiwan already.

    Feb 15, 2012 | 9:19 pm

  25. Marketman says:

    Anne, that doesn’t surprise me at all… Ilocos is traditionally the source and summertime the peak. But a huge proportion of garlic and onions now come in container loads from China and Taiwan. So buy local whenever you can, as its a commodity losing out to imports…

    Feb 15, 2012 | 9:33 pm

  26. ami says:

    MM, have you ever done a post on how to select the best produce? I know you’ve talked about selecting the freshest seafood, but how about fruits and veggies? It occured to me over the weekend while buying watermelons from a roadside stall that I (as well as my beachtrip-mates) seem to lack the proper know-how on picking the best fruits. Btw, I got lucky because the vendor chose a good watermelon for me and I learned later on from my dad that if you tap on a watermelon it should have a good sound.

    Feb 17, 2012 | 2:48 pm

  27. Dodgie Osabel says:

    I am helping poor upland farmers in Rizal province set up a regular marketing scheme for their farm produce. They used to subsist on destructive kaingin and pag-uuling as their only sources of livelihood. I want to know how we could connect to your system. Salamat po.

    Sep 14, 2013 | 10:33 pm


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