Lechon, Mustasa & Kamatis Salad a la Marketman


Deep-fried roast pork, shreds of bracing and peppery mustard leaves, juicy tomatoes and a bagoong-lime dressing were an ABSOLUTE HIT the first time we tried it at home. So popular, in fact, I have to find a way to offer this at the restaurants at least as a special to see if others are as enthusiastic about the combination as we are. Finding really good mustasa on a regular basis in Cebu might not be so easy, but perhaps if we ever opened in Manila this would be easier to do…


The success comes from a variety of roots… the Central luzon tradition of using the flavorful mustasa leaves to envelop some pungent filling like burong hipon, fried fish or meat, etc. The seemingly natural affinity of bagoong or shrimp paste with pork. The mixture of flavors and textures, from fatty, crunchy, bitter, sharp, salty, soft and juicy, and all in one mouthful makes this a dish likely to be loved… Filipino food is sometimes less-multidimensional than say well spiced and herbed Thai or Vietnamese food, but this dish lets off firecrackers in the mouth.

To make, fry up some pork belly, hocks (para), etc. OR some fish of some sort. Chop up some fresh mustasa or mustard greens that have been soaked in water to return them to maximum freshness, then dry thoroughly in a spinner. Make a dressing of lime juice (or kalamansi) with bagoong and whatever else you fancy and toss everything together just before serving. I know I call it a salad, but you HAVE to eat this with some freshly cooked rice. It’s really a leafy viand, if you ask me. Delicious and super easy to make.


21 Responses

  1. my husband’s garden in the backyard gives us an almost-steady supply of mustasa, so we often have salads of this sort. i’ve tried this same dressing (bagoong balayan and kalamansi), same tomatoes, but i used tinapa flakes instead of lechon. must try it with lechon! add in some blanched french beans and hardboiled eggs and that would be a meal.

    for a caesar salad-type dressing, sometimes i use bagoong balayan or flaked tuyo in oil in place of tinned anchovies. same difference!

  2. Almost similar version of your salad is a favorite in our household, not with lechon though, but crispy fried fish like tilapia or hito. We normally add some cubed cucumber (skin and seeds off) sprinkled with a little salt; the juice being squeezed out before adding to the salad plus salted duck eggs.

    By the way, we use crispy fried shredded frozen Zubuchon in our salads, very good substitute for bacon bits. :)

  3. I love the idea! And the timing of your post is perfect because I have robust mustasa plants growing in my garden now and some pork bellies in the fridge. On a related note, isn’t it possible for your staff to grow mustard in you veggie garden there? They are so easy to grow, maintenance free and you’ll have the freshest supply from your own backyard. I for one love the idea of eating food that was harvested right outside my kitchen. I would eat out more often if only all restaurants were doing this.

  4. Amy, you have read my mind… just told the crew if they don’t sell mustasa in Cebu, we should grow it… and hopefully it will thrive in our poor soil…

  5. MM, mustard thrives even in poor soil, and it will give you broad and beautiful leaves if you give it regular moisture/water. I don’t use fertilizer or pesticides, bugs don’t seem to like it. After I throw the seeds on the ground, they are on their own; after a good rain, they shoot out like weeds!

  6. Yummm! Similar to Ilocos’ Bagnet with KBL (Kamatis, Bagoong, Lasona) but slightly “healthier” Visayan version with the Mustasa leaves…. Can’t wait to try on my next Zubuchon visit!

  7. MM, yes, grow your own mustasa. they’re so easy to grow, and the hardiest among all the leafies in our garden.

  8. you’d probably have to supplement your soil with vermi compost (we buy that at P300/sack here) to enrich it.

  9. Egads, it seems mustasa is not common in Cebu, and none of our vegetable suppliers carry it… am heading to the Carbon market myself tomorrow to check with specialty produce stalls that carry Chinese herbs and greens, perhaps they might have it… otherwise, would have to grow it ourselves! :)

  10. MM, I also have mustasa growing in our garden (small greenhouse). What’s nice about it is you can’t get it any fresher and even if you cut the mature leaves, small ones will grow. Nice! Don’t worry about poor soil. I have shifted to container gardening. It saves me on soil, water, and fertilizer. That salad is my utmost favorite. Haven’t tried it with lime though. Can’t find any dayap around. So sad!

  11. Amy, don’t you have aphids in your mustasa leaves this time of the year? Those aphids are pain in the neck…or back. I have to brush them off from each leaf. Soaking them in a pail of water for 30 minutes just drowns the ants but not all of the aphids are removed so I had to brush them off the remaining ones manually. *sigh* It made me think how commercial growers remove the aphids. By pesticide?

  12. Amy, MM and Corrine!

    To protect your young seedlings from any bugs COVER them the entire season with ROW COVERS!!!!! Cannot stress it enough! if you have tunnel hoops, cover them with remay…light ones so the sun and water can get in. I do this for carrots, Gai LAN, bok chop and anything that flea beetles and other bugs just love chewing on.

  13. MM….just made your salad topped with chicken skin chippies…dressed with nuoc nam mixed with a little sautéed alamang….and sarap! Even my picky eater kids liked it! Thank you for the inspiration!

  14. Hi Corrine, I live in Las Vegas and this time of the year when nights are in the 30’s and 40’s (F), there are no aphids. Actually, there are no bugs! This is the perfect time here to grow mustard, kohlrabi, lettuce and Swiss chard. I have a small garden but I do pack them with as much veggies and herbs as I can possibly fit in it. When I get aphids in the Spring and Summer, I blast them with water from the hose. I control the ants in their tunnels with commercial spray, the ants are the ones spreading those aphids around. They “farm” the aphids so they can “milk” honeydew from the tiny suckers! Anyway, Betty Q.’s suggestion of row covers will be an excellent solution to your problem. When cleaning the leaves, I would wash them under a sink spray, or if you’re outside, with a shower spray, that will take care of the aphids and ants clinging to the leaves. Yes, MM’s salad is delicious! I also tried it with grilled pork belly, good too!

  15. Hi Amy and bettyq. Thanks for the tips. I shower sprayed the leaves this morning and the tiny aphids and ants were blasted away. I just hope they don’t come back. Yes, that was a revelation. I thought the ants were eating the aphids…but, noooo, they were farming them alright! I have fire ants as farmers. Really sad! I was advised by a soil scientist to use pounded chillies mixed with water and soap and pour them in the ants’ tunnel. I just use this for fire ants not the little ones. I don’t want to use chemicals. I did that last Saturday but still have to check if it worked. Wasn’t able to inspect the tunnel this morning. I’ve tried all sorts of organic pesticides like cinnamon, orange skin, etc. in the past with no success.
    bettyq, my mustasas are in a greenhouse so I suppose I don’t have to use row covers? But, still they got infected. Kawawa my eggplants.

  16. if you have bugs inside your greenhouse, Corrine, then I would cover them with Remay still. Also, you might want to try companion planting. Mustard greens attract aphids and with it ants. Mint is a good companion plant. Ants do not like mint! Likewise, aphids do not like mint. another one is plant your mustard greens near yarrow, or buckwheat flowers….they attract ladybugs that feed on the aphids…will not solve your ant problem but the mint trick will work. Bruise some mint leaves and scatter them around. But bear in mind, the mint is an invasive plant so it is wise to keep it contained in a pot.

  17. Hi bettyq. Oh I have 2 pots of mint. I read another companion plant is marigold which is locally available. Thanks!

  18. MM, should you decide to open here in Manila and offer this – you can bet my family will order several platters of this.



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