21 Feb2008


I was in Legazpi and suburbs for two days last week. Of course, I couldn’t miss a visit to the central market and despite the stormy weather, I discovered the market well stocked with fish and produce and I really had a wonderful time wandering through the three floors. There will be several posts in the days ahead of this visit to Legazpi. One of the things that struck me about the vegetable section is that there were several vendors who were prepping the most commonly used vegetables so that they were essentially ready to cook. This isn’t such a unique situation, it’s true in many wet markets, but here the produce was of superb quality and they “chopped to order” and with incredible precision… In the first photo above, a young man was slicing the primest quality ubod with the sharpest of knives… the rapid fire chopping or slicing yielded thin slices of ubod quicker and thinner than my expensive mandoline back home. I purchased half a kilo of the stuff just so that I could get this photograph of him in action. If you blow up this photo, you will several several “shards” of ubod jumping off the knife, it is fascinating. I didn’t have a kitchen so I handed the 1/2 kilo of ubod I bought for just PHP15 to a guide who took it home to make into a salad… bummer, I didn’t get to taste it.


Another vendor was making quick work of slicing up an unripe jackfruit (langka). This can be a bit of pain in the neck to peel and prepare but this was done in seconds and for some reason wasn’t browning and it didn’t seem like they were using acidulated water (water with say kalamansi or lemon) to prevent the langka from turning brown. He was even cutting it without looking at his hands!


Next up, a bilao of thinly sliced banana hearts. I thought it looked so enticing but I wasn’t sure how to use it, assuming I had access to a kitchen. Then I remembered a reader who mentioned a chicken in gata dish with banana heart slices. And another recipe might be banana hearts in gata with tinapa.


Another lady had a stall filled with the most incredible looking squash or kalabasa, the deep orange flesh on display to encourage you to buy, buy, buy. In addition, the lady was prepping a bilao of cleaned and sliced ampalaya which you could buy by the 100 grams or so…


And finally, an older gentleman sitting near a pile of tanglad (gotta love the shirt), patiently stripping malunggay (horseradish tree) leaves from their stems so that buyers could just rinse and cook the leaves! I normally buy all of my produce and prep it myself at home… but seeing all this great stuff already prepped, I could easily cook up a storm without any of the prep work! Why vegetables don’t feature much more prominently in our restaurant menus is totally beyond me! :(



  1. Maria Clara says:

    Heard it before the use of formalin in retail establishments at the wet market to prevent cut veggies from discoloration and wilting. I would imagine Johnny did not have a problem in cutting the young langka into uniform sliced since formalin zapped the latex formation which caused the sticky residue. Practice, practice is the way to Carnegie Hall these guys do this stuff everyday 24/7!

    Feb 21, 2008 | 12:24 pm


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  3. john paul sarabia says:

    people eat what they don’t see at their homes.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 12:30 pm

  4. allen says:

    How could they chop without chopping boards? I don’t think they get paid for all that labor, imagine P15 for half a kilo of fresh ubod? You won’t get that in Manila!

    Feb 21, 2008 | 1:02 pm

  5. Lety says:

    mmm…banana blossoms, my favorite! MM, this is how we cook banana hearts in Pampanga.
    bawang, sibuyas, patis, suka
    pork and shrimps w/ heads (take out just the hard part of the shell and the “feet” leaving the “taba?”) as pang-sahog
    the sliced banana hearts are soaked in vinegar and then, the banana hearts are squeezed to wring out the vinegar and the “dagta.”
    pre-boil the pork until tender and render its fat (or not-its up to you).
    sautee the bawang, sibuyas, add the pork back, let fry a little bit, add the shrimps, sautee until everything is cooked. add the patis and let boil.
    the shrimps’ “taba” will give this mixture a red color.
    add the thinly sliced banana blossoms. mix well until the banana hearts are coated with the sauteed ingredients.
    add a little bit of suka and water, enough to get the banana blossoms/hearts tender. add salt and pepper to taste. cover and just cook until the banana blossoms are cooked.when cooked, the banana blossoms will have salty vinegary taste with shrimp and pork flavor.
    sorry, no measurements. when i cook this, i just guesstimate everything. we eat this with rice and any kind of fried fish.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 2:46 pm

  6. misao says:

    when my brother and i were young, my dad would have to use tricks on us to make us eat veggies. he made some burger patties and fried lumpia out of banana hearts.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 2:52 pm

  7. lee says:

    Poll question: I answered Abalos because I will be serving burgers for dinner, burjers pala.. burjers and friends fries..

    Feb 21, 2008 | 3:33 pm

  8. bernadette says:

    that’s a very good one, lee! ha-ha-ha! parang may bara sa ilong…:-D

    I wish we have a palengke like this! Oftentimes, I learn a lot with some provincial markets…but not all, unfortunately. The tinderas here are not that “industrious.”

    Feb 21, 2008 | 4:45 pm

  9. honey says:

    When slicing young langka, just spread oil in your knife and hands and the sap won’t be a hassle to you. using formalin is a bit impractical as it will jack up the price.

    as for the banana hearts, i just add some salt to the sliced hearts, let it sit for a while then rinse and squeeze. add it to boiling coconut milk. throw in some garlic and onions. when dry, add the coconut cream, add some flaked tinapa, salt to taste. when the cream is cooked, turn off fire and serve

    Feb 21, 2008 | 4:49 pm

  10. chunky says:

    how i wish somebody could produce or feature these almost dying breed of Filipino ingenuity in television for the world to see…imagine, slicing without the use of chopping board (thanks for observing that allen) or slicing so thin it beats MM’s imported mandoline or the “look ma, no eyes” kinda slicing. wow! i never saw anything even close to these in really good food-related documentaries. hats off to these guys! thanks for sharing this MM…wonderful article.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 5:55 pm

  11. edel says:

    i have an uncle who cooks a mean puso (banana heart slices) ng saging and sotanghon– yum! dunno how to cook it though, except maybe for kare-kare

    Feb 21, 2008 | 8:30 pm

  12. tulip says:

    We cook banana heart almost same way Lety does. We call it Kilawin Puso ng Saging. It is always a hit and another one is with coconut milk, cook almost same as laing. We always squeeze it out (dagta) before cooking.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 9:13 pm

  13. tulip says:

    Oh and yes, we add some sotanghon to Kilawin Puso ng Saging.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 9:14 pm

  14. lojet says:

    Was in Cebu recently and visited Ayala and SM for the first time. I don’t remember now which of the two but one had in their grocery/ produce department different veggies already chopped packaged and labeled according to their intended use e.g. sari-sari, pinakbet, chop suey etc. Sure beats buying veggies one by one and chopping them.

    Feb 21, 2008 | 11:13 pm

  15. edee says:

    i miss kilawin puso ng saging, sarap with pritong isda :)

    Feb 22, 2008 | 12:23 am

  16. soleil says:

    I’ve been lurking here for a while Marketman, and though you’ve probably already answered this question before, I’d like to know: how do you get to travel so much?

    Feb 22, 2008 | 1:42 am

  17. Ed says:

    Is that banana heart or young banana trunk? If it’s banana trunk, the Balinese make a spicy stew spiked with chili and tumeric called “jukut ares”. Really good, and the trunk’s texture reminds me of a mixture of lotus root and sugar cane.

    Feb 22, 2008 | 3:58 am

  18. Gladys says:

    Hi Marketman,

    Grabe tulo yung laway ko doon sa malunggay pictures… I used to do that when I was little to help my lola prepare our meal during my summers in Bicol. Your article brings such nice memories to me. I remember in Bicol we loved eating snails with malunggay and gata- there were little ones called dalu-dalo that you can get from the beach when it’s low tide and another kind called tuwad-tuwad. The dalu-dalo had a litte bitter-sweet taste sometimes which was a nice contrast to the creaminess of the gata. How I love your articles especially when it refers to my beloved Bicol. You are so lucky to live in the Philippines, I can’t wait to visit Bicol again. My heart is so homesick but happy when I get a little reminder of home from you.

    Thank you so much,

    P.S. It’s in the 20’s here in NYC 2day, bukas? snow naman, wish i were in manila or legaspi right now… :)

    Feb 22, 2008 | 5:12 am

  19. yetski says:

    love the banana heart mix in sinigang na bangus

    Feb 22, 2008 | 6:20 am

  20. Marketman says:

    yetski and Ed, banana heart is known as UBAD, not UBOD, and this item in the photo is definitely UBOD. Gladys, glad to bring you a glimpse of “home.” soleil, some of my travel is related to work as the company I am connected with has properties in different parts of the country, the other reason is that I have mae a concerted effort to see more of our country… honey, thanks for the tip on the oil, I was also pretty sure there were no chemicals on these veggies… lee, my first question when Abalos testified was, DID HE GROW UP IN CEBU??? Burjer indeed.

    Feb 22, 2008 | 7:27 am

  21. kamillerz says:

    I am now addicted to your blog Marketman! Not only do you share your secret recipes, but you bring me back home with your pictures. These latest market pics remind me of my trips to Nueva Ecija market with lola, I can still remember the smell of burong isda! I miss the Philippines, I regret that I did not do much travelling when I used to live there. Thanks to your blog, I discover things about places I haven’t been to. Keep up the good work! :)

    Feb 22, 2008 | 8:09 am

  22. vennisjean says:

    Banana hearts that had been sliced…nice way and easier to make salad na puso ng saging in 2 different ways.just submerged chopped/sliced banana hearts in water with salt soak for a few minutes then squeeze out the water. you can sautee garlic, onions, and tomatoes in a little oil, add the banana heart stir fry til wilted season with pepper powder,salt and soy sauce to taste…if you want it tangy add a little vinegar. Another way is to boil the banana hearts that had been soaked and squeezed in water until cooked then drain and set aside. In a pan sautee onions and sliced/julienned ginger in a little oil, then add a cup or two of coconut milk stirring constantly season with salt and a little vinegar. when it is heated and just below boiling point remove from geat and add to the cooked banana heart, toss and season more if you want top/garnish with murang dahon ng sibuyas..yummy…

    Feb 22, 2008 | 9:38 am

  23. Teresa says:

    MM, during the holidays we bought uncooked ubod lumpia ready for frying. The maker is along Ifugao Road, La Vista.

    Seeing all the ubod makes me think of getting one box for the weekend. :)

    Feb 22, 2008 | 4:08 pm

  24. Bubut says:

    our wet market in Guadalupe, Makati have this available chopped veggies though we dont have ubod and puso ng saging. But we have a vendor who will do the coconut milk extraction for you. Just tell him how many extracts you want. So its so easy to cook ginataan.

    Feb 22, 2008 | 5:25 pm

  25. lee says:

    I’m at a loss… Abalos…

    Feb 23, 2008 | 10:28 am

  26. CecileJ says:

    Lee, see you sa kalsada….Lozada!

    Feb 26, 2008 | 9:13 am

  27. MiuMi says:

    Can i ask if their is a way how to make malunggay in social way?…

    like a ice cream malunggay…

    i just would like to make foods…

    please help me ok..!

    Jul 8, 2008 | 10:01 pm

  28. violy alferos says:

    i would like to make burgers out of banana young trunks. anybody help me with the procedures pls!!!!*

    Nov 7, 2009 | 3:59 pm


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