When I experiment in the kitchen, I often have left over odds and ends. I buy chopped unripe langka by the kilo, but end up only using half of it, or I broil fish and we end up eating 2/3 of it. Or buy enough grated coconut thinking itâ€™s better to have more than end up short, so two cups of coconut milk sits forlorn. Then one or the other of our crew (at this point almost all of them can cook a mean meal) ends up making a brilliant version of â€œutan bisayaâ€ (visayan vegetable soup) which doesnâ€™t ever seem the same as the last time I featured itâ€¦ So hereâ€™s yet another comforting version that was delicious, nutritious and totally meat free.
In a pot, they added water and onions, squash and other vegetables in the order in which it takes them to cookâ€¦ langka (unripe jackfruit), eggplants, etc. Then they added some flaked broiled fish meat, then leftover cups of freshly squeezed coconut milk and let this simmer until almost done. Season with salt and at the last minute, add the greens such as kangkong and turn off the heat, and serve with lots of rice. There are just so many versions of utan bisaya, precisely because it is dependent on what you have on hand. If we had a malunggay (horseradish tree) nearby it would probably have included those leaves as well. While this dish is extremely quick and simple to make, it has depth and richness because of the coconut milk, protein from the broiled fish, and all of the benefits of lots of vegetables. Definitely smart comfort food. Perfect for the Lenten season.