While I may not be a fan of malunggay (see previous post), I do appreciate that millions of Filipinos may consider this leaf (and sometimes the pod) as a sort of â€œcomfort foodâ€ that is not only familiar but highly economical. For most everyday cooking, an elaborate or multi-dish meal is an exception rather than the rule. The reality is that many want a hot, quick, nutritious and economical dish that is well paired with riceâ€¦ and a soup with whatever is generally available (fish or meat) is a very practical and logical choice. Here are two soups that are nearly effortless to make, incorporate malunggay leaves and wonâ€™t break the bankâ€¦ The first of two tinowa is a simple soup of water, leek, tomato, onion, salay-salay fish de-gutted but whole, salt and/or patis (fish sauce) and some malunggay leaves. Prep time was a minute or two, cooking time say 10-15 minutes. Cebuano tinowa (tinola, but Cebuanos seem to remove all of the lâ€™sâ€¦) is far less flavored than dishes from the Northâ€¦there is no tamarind, no lemon or lime, etc. Instead, the simplicity (and blandness) of boiled fish or chicken with the veggies and malunggay is what is sought.
In this second somewhat upscale tinowa, some tanglad (lemongrass) is boiled in water, tomatoes, onions, leeks are added, then some crushed shrimpheads (whole shrimp if you have it but can make the dish a bit more costly) salt and pepper and malunggay leaves. This is a bit stylized but essentially the spirit of a modest tinowa is maintained, despite the pricey prawns in this version. My grandmother used to make a soup with native chickens that had been boiling for a while (yet still seemed like rubber) that she then added malunggay to the broth. Others like to grill a large fish like tuna or tulingan (a close relative) and flake the oily meat into the soup. This is everyday comfort or fuel food, not typical fiesta fareâ€¦ I tried it again tonight but it just doesnâ€™t do it for meâ€¦ maybe in another decade or so!