05 Feb2008

Utan Bisaya a la Crew

by Marketman


There are many names for this comforting vegetable soup, often flavored with fish (fresh, smoked, boiled, fried or dried). I have posted an “upscale” version I made a couple of years ago, here. Basically, you need to round up as many fresh veggies (native-ish ones) such as lemongrass, eggplants, sitaw (long beans), squash, gabi (taro root), bamboo shoots, leeks, ginger, malunggay (horseradish tree), siling mahaba, etc. and boil up some water, cook the veggies according to length of time required to get them just cooked and add flaked tinapa (smoked fish) or dried fish, and salt to taste.


Not only is this incredibly satisfying for a huge part of the Philippine population, it is like a vitamin cocktail… so chockfull of vegetables and a little bit of protein. It is practical, adjusts to the varying seasonal availability of vegetables, and can be as simple as having only malunggay or as elaborate as having 10-12 different vegetables. I honestly didn’t like this very much as a kid, and I am still not a great fan of it today, but I can see how this might actually give sinigang or other pinoy soups a real run for overall popularity in the “comfort food” category. And again, the palayok worked its magic, concentrating flavors despite not stewing in the pot for ages. And I swear I could smell some of the smoke in the broth of the soup from the wood fire below…




  1. Gay says:

    This is one of my favorite dishes which we learned during our stay in Iligan. This is not common in Laguna, hence we have to plant our own malunggay, lemon grass, and alugbati when we came back here.

    Feb 5, 2008 | 6:33 am


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  3. Maria Clara says:

    The third rice washing will make a great broth for this dish that will heighten up the flavor of the veggies. In Western world an ideal food for most vegans. With a plate of rice real comfort food to some segments of our society that are struggling on a day-to-day basis! Cooked in palayok and in open fire makes it a remarkable dish with the smoky flavor it imparts!

    Feb 5, 2008 | 6:34 am

  4. anna says:

    In Davao we call it law-uy.

    Feb 5, 2008 | 7:09 am

  5. gemma says:

    the kalamunggay tree at our backyard in davao was a source of embarrasment for me during my growing up years. i just thought it lessened the cool points of the landscape! my mother refused to have it cut down as she needed it for the daily utan/laswa. just like your lola, the dish is on the dinner table every single day.

    nowadays, i’m willing to pay a premium just to have those kinds of veggies! i do recall that the kalamunggay is added a second before the flame is switched off. The pot is covered for a minute or two (with the flame off) for the kalamunggay to soften.

    Feb 5, 2008 | 8:24 am

  6. ykmd says:

    Comfort food indeed! This too, was one of the mainstays on my lolo and lola’s dinner table-they would use either dilis (bulinaw in Cebuano) or large chunks of dried fish. And there always was some leftover inun-unan nga tulingan (your previous post) which of course always tasted better the next day anyway. :)

    Feb 5, 2008 | 9:54 am

  7. bernadette says:

    vegetarianism at its best!

    Feb 5, 2008 | 9:57 am

  8. ihid says:

    Binas-oy na diri sa cdO!

    Feb 5, 2008 | 10:05 am

  9. joey says:

    I am so going to start using my palayok! :)

    Feb 5, 2008 | 10:54 am

  10. john paul sarabia says:

    am on diet so even though i don’t like this food i just stuff it in my mouth as much as i can so as to be full. in that way i will not eat any meat dish anymore.i only use palayok as my serving bowl in the buffet table whenever i have guests at home.btw mm do you notice there are alot of ants at this time.

    Feb 5, 2008 | 11:14 am

  11. Mel says:

    Goodbye All Clad and Le Creuset!

    Feb 5, 2008 | 12:42 pm

  12. skyemermaid says:

    i didn’t like law-oy growing up either. but my parents and all the other oldies in the family (titas, titos, lolas, lolos, manangs and manongs) had to have it at least every other day. now that i am older with kids of my own, i am beginning to understand the attraction of this wholesome, simple, hearty, nutritious food.

    Feb 5, 2008 | 12:52 pm

  13. elaine says:

    I believe I could finish a whole palayok of this dish. I’m highly carnivorous but my love affair with ALL SORTS of veggies goes way back during my younger years. I guess I was an odd kid back then who would eat nearly every vegetable put on her plate. I came to love ampalaya when I was 7 or 8 yrs. old. Unfortunately my hub’s family are just plain meat and fish lovers. I will DEFINITELY try this recipe.

    Feb 5, 2008 | 3:30 pm

  14. Lyna says:

    On Malunggay
    What is in the leaves that makes it favourable for lactating moms? Is it really true that the quantity of breast milk increases? I grew up hearing this all over but can’t seem to find real explanation. MM, do you have any info for this curious tart?

    Feb 5, 2008 | 5:02 pm

  15. 3C says:

    i want to get my own palayok! we do not have the luxury of space as we stay in a condo. my question is– MM, will there be a big difference in flavor using the palayok on a stove top as against chopped wood?

    Feb 5, 2008 | 5:22 pm

  16. elaine says:

    MM, since I’m bent on making this dish and palayok is easier to procure, I second 3C’s question..:)

    Feb 5, 2008 | 5:58 pm

  17. s says:

    i soooo love “utan na bisaya”. goes best w/ pasiw na isda. yummm….

    Feb 5, 2008 | 9:40 pm

  18. noemi says:

    in ilocano, we call this dinengdeng. i love this and I miss it.

    Feb 5, 2008 | 10:37 pm

  19. lysandrad says:

    Have been cooking over the QBstove for quite sometime now using charcoal and often times the black palayok. Terrific savings on LPG :-)

    Feb 6, 2008 | 4:29 am

  20. Gina says:

    I disliked this dish with a passion when I was a kid. The taste of vegetables back then stimulated my gag reflex and it took major parental coercion to make me eat the green stuff. My father, on the other hand, would consume a bowl with great relish practically every night. He is now a relatively fit 79, and I do believe utan is the reason for his longevity.

    Feb 6, 2008 | 4:32 am

  21. Marketman says:

    Gina, I am with you, my lola used to have this twice a day with her meal, and lived till 95 or so. I disliked it too. :) noemi, yes, it has different names all across the country with slightly altered ingredients… 3C and elaine, I have not cooked with a palayok on a stove. I suspect it will be better than a stainless pot but not as good as over fire… lyna, it is a tale, true or not, but a lot of folks believe malunggay leaves are good for lactating mothers…

    Feb 6, 2008 | 7:43 am

  22. shalimar says:

    MM I just sent this link to my sis every time I make soup she would say sha utan binisaya ni?
    I just asked for my holidays April comes am off the boat…

    Feb 6, 2008 | 9:41 am

  23. ratacutie says:

    The Ilonggo version might be laswa? Laswa usually has saluyot and okra. My favorite vegetable dish! On the malunggay, I recently just stopped breastfeeding, but right after I gave birth, I used to consume gallons of malunggay tea. I think it helped “increase” my breastmilk a bit. Clam soup (halaan?) help too. Although malunggay has so many other health benefits.

    Feb 6, 2008 | 2:14 pm

  24. greengrapecake says:

    I love utan bisaya, but unlike your recipe we do not put tanglad and ginger. I think ginger has a very strong taste and overpowers the taste of the other vegetables.

    Feb 6, 2008 | 3:02 pm

  25. vennisjean says:

    its Law-oy in Davao and other parts of Mindanao…I grew up eating this and the veggies varies according to season sometimes my mom would add fresh corn kernels,okra and alugbati.Its a great way to make us eat the fried fish that had dried up in the refrigerator. And it is because of this dish that my mom alway makes it a point to plant malunggay and tanglad whenever we transfer to a new house.

    Feb 6, 2008 | 5:42 pm

  26. Gwiz says:

    This is bulanglang for us in Bulacan. I think dinengdeng in Ilocos. With just slight variations in the veggies used. The Ilocano dinengdeng would not be complete without the slimy saluyot in it. The Bulacan bulanglang on the other hand can get by without the fish and with just a dash of bagoong in it – I think this is because we are a landlocked province and fish would not be so readily available.

    By the way, I had been taught never to cook the malunggay leaves too much or it will be bitter. In fact, we turn off the heat right after plunging the malunggay leaves into the pot.

    Feb 6, 2008 | 7:20 pm

  27. joshua says:

    When we make our “utan bisaya” we place several cloves of garlic first into the boiling water. After that, the veggies. No fish whatsoever. Super yum!!! Try it!

    Feb 6, 2008 | 10:00 pm

  28. michelle says:

    Gwiz this is also Bulanglang for us Batanguenos :). We have this at the table at least twice a week! We don’t add actual fish, but it is flavored with patis and served with garlicky bagoong Balayan, so it is plenty fish-y tasting.

    Feb 7, 2008 | 3:34 am

  29. Belle says:

    is this also called laswa MM? i used to hate this (I mean

    Feb 7, 2008 | 5:21 am

  30. dee bee says:

    Hi marketman, in the third picture, what is the green veg/herb tied up in knots? thanks.

    Feb 7, 2008 | 5:21 pm

  31. Treskeidecamania says:

    I think the green one tied in knot is TANGLAD or TANLAD,whatever (for dee bee).It adds aroma to the veggies. This is what I always crave for my dad when i back home in Antique, there’s so much veggies stuff out there. To satisfy my longings, i used to spare my time at Bacolod Inasal or Ilonggo Grill. One menu serve at Inasal which i fondly order is the LASWA ni LOLA, a good one for veggies lover. NIce blogs man, i appreciate your sharing what the Philippines best could offer. If you find time try to visit my link, a site dealing on Philippine Philately and Numismatic.

    Feb 7, 2008 | 6:41 pm

  32. Mayet says:

    Hi, Shalimar gave me your link…nice one you got here and being Cebuana myself…whew Utan Bisaya…i really miss this!

    Feb 9, 2008 | 6:19 am

  33. dee bee says:

    Treskeidecamania, thanks!

    Feb 10, 2008 | 7:39 am

  34. Homebuddy says:

    Indeed, “utan bisaya or law-oy” as we call it is very good, especially when you have been eating a lot of rich food for days and your system just craves for something simple, soothing and comforting! Pairing it with buwad or ginamos, wow!

    Feb 10, 2008 | 10:25 pm

  35. arnie says:

    Here in Negros we call that one as “laswa”. Source of lots of nutrients and fiber. I really like it during lunch time, serving it while hot. Great dish, much more if only a very, very small amount of salt(to taste)is added and no msg at all.

    Feb 26, 2008 | 9:09 pm

  36. ana_el610 says:

    wow, this site is so amazing w/ so many infos. hehehe summer na kasi ngayon and i want to do something besides laying around and eating. i am a 2nd yr college student. and since summer vacation started, i gained 20 pounds. oh my gosh right?! what a nightmare for a teen! so i am planning to got back to shape. vegetables is the answer thanks for the recipes! hehehe kahit laswa ni lola, utan bisaya ala crew, or bulanglang. it is pack w/ good stuff…. good stuff! tnx again!

    Apr 3, 2008 | 9:57 pm

  37. Dan Tabieros says:

    try the fruit of the tree. Simply skin the fruit and used the meat of the fruit for salad or add to your soup dish.

    Apr 7, 2008 | 5:04 am

  38. emmanuel says:

    together with pritong daing na pusit w/ suka mixed
    with chopped onions and tomatoes,sili…awesome!!!

    May 20, 2009 | 10:26 pm

  39. evelyn says:

    grabe jud na vitamina ang malunggay……….kaon jud mo ana para layo ta sakit…

    Jun 17, 2009 | 6:31 pm


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