Misua & Patola Soup

I hated this dish when I was younger. Just couldn’t get over the slimy (did you know that word was spelled without an “e”? I didn’t. :)) texture of the patola/loofah, and the noodles were kinda slimy too… But my taste buds have evolved with old age, and I now look forward to a bowl of tasty, well-made misua and patola soup. There are a LOT of tasteless, pasty (yup, no “e” in that word either) versions out there, so we prefer to make a homemade version that ramps up the flavor just a bit… Our version probably breaks some cardinal rules for this soup, but as a simple home concoction, I couldn’t care less… :)

First, our cook made some mini-pork meat balls, seasoning the pork with some salt, pepper and a dash of patis (fish sauce) and fried them in a pan with some vegetable oil (lard would work nicely as well). Set these aside while you prepare the other ingredients. Peel just the thickest outer layer of the patola, and while some folks leave the skin on, we like to shave off that first darkest green layer. Slice the patola into roughly 1/4 or 1/3 inch thick disks.

In a pot, saute some chopped onion and minced garlic until fragrant, then add in the meatballs, and some home made pork broth. I intend to try this with some lechon broth the next time I am in Cebu, but didn’t have any at home. We didn’t have enough pork broth so I just added some water.

To this quick soup stock I added about 2 teaspoons of Kikkoman soy sauce, perhaps 2 teaspoons of Rufina patis (fish sauce) and a teaspoon or so of muscovado sugar. I know, I know, the last ingredient is highly unusual, but I find that it blends/mellows the other flavors, without the soup becoming noticeably sweeter. If you don’t have pork broth, you can use canned chicken broth, though I always wondered why recipes suggested that if you were putting pork meat balls… Let this simmer for a bit, and season with additional salt and some freshly ground white pepper. Be CAREFUL with salt, as the misua noodles sold here often seem to be quite salty. So you may want to hold off on salt until after you cook the noodles.

Add the sliced patola or loofah to the simmering broth and let it cook for a couple of minutes until just starting to soften. Add the noodles and stir gently to mix all the ingredients up. Taste the broth and season to your taste.

Once the patola and noodles are cooked, serve the soup HOT. I love how the green of the patola is so fresh and vibrant. The slices of the vegetable are not incredibly mushy and soft. The meatballs retain their shape and are packed with flavor. The noodles are soft but not a pile of slimy mush. The broth is deeply satisfying… and much better if you made your pork broth from scratch.

It’s best to enjoy this soup on a cool and rainy day, but we happened to cook this for lunch (just after returning from a market foray) the other day in sweltering heat… and it was still really delicious and comforting!


54 Responses

  1. this one for sure, i’m going to try; a clear and workable recipe for one who is a novice in the kitchen. i loved this when i was a kid. thanks.

  2. Thanks for the reminider that slimy does not have an “e” :) This patola and misua brought me back to my childhood…:) We used to have this on the table quite often because we grew patola vines in the backyard. When we didn’t have meat we just used dried shrimps that came in small packets from the nearby store. I also love cooking diced patola stir-fried quickly with lots of minced garlic and just a pinch of salt. You’ll be amazed how nutty and sweet patola tastes cooked this way.

  3. This is definitely comfort in our home. Unlike most, I was one of the few kids who loved anything slimy…misua, payola, saluyot, etc.

  4. My father loved misua and patola.Mom used to saute it with shrimps or ground pork. I love this dish too but was quite turned off a bit when loofah became popular as bathing accessory and learned that it is dried patola!ha!ha!ha!

  5. There is a reason you hated this dish as a child MM, and the reason I hated it too. This is because it has no redeeming qualities, despite your really valiant, and I’m sure most worthy, efforts to revive it. It’s because those ingredients, honest enough in themselves, have no business being together. Some marriages just aren’t made in heaven. All cuisines, like all societies, have such misfortunes.

  6. I grew up with cooks from Cebu and Davao who sauteed the pork with onions, garlic and GINGER. Yummy! It’s not only comforting, but economical as well.

  7. You’ve combined 2 comfort foods that my mom used to make…. bola-bola with misua and patola with misua. We usually have the patola with shrimps and we pair this soup with fried lumpia. Love it on rainy days most especially.

  8. Also known as almon di gas, the default- i am sick food when i was young. Always associate the word almon di gas with fever. Hehe. Comfort food!

  9. one of my comfort foods. my mom mixed minced shrimp and sliced scallions into the ground pork mixture. i love patola, the smooth, fragrant kind. “sikwa” is how it’s called here. sometimes i add fresh straw mushroooms to this dish.

  10. I grew up with this kind of soup and my mum used to put grated ginger in it. Very yummy and comforting during the rainy season.

  11. Misua was a staple at our home when I was growing up – misua with fish, misua with kidney, misua with shrimp and mushroom, and my favorite, misua made from “sibut” soup. I’ve always loved misua. This pork meat balls and patola misua was something I didn’t get to have often but I enjoy eating it too. I prefer the finer misua though. The photo seems to be of the coarser kind, which my mom uses only for birthday misua.

  12. I think we used to serve the same dish in our family, but not with meatballs. I did enjoy patola in this dish, but do agree that in some cases the texture can be quite slimy. Your pictures make the vegetable seem such a vibrant green, and I don’t remember it really being that bright and colorful.

    We’d have meatballs with sopas, though.

  13. You may also add some dried baby shrimp “hibe” for added flavor and texture. My Mom cooks patola with left-over blue crabs and taste just good..

  14. i love the meat balls part,like molo soup. i didnt like patola when i was a kid especially when mature ones find their way to my plate, i also didnt like the small… today, i find it fragrant, and i now appreciate the melt in your mouth goodness of patola

  15. I found it hilarious you keep calling patola loofah until I googled and realized that yes, it is actually called loofah! I thought that’s what you call the bathing implement! I can just imagine if I go to the grocery and ask for loofah. Most probably I’d be directed to the toiletries aisle and not even a thought to the real vegetable :)

  16. You can also add the Patola flowers to this dish. It taste much like squash flowers

  17. My mom cooks this soup also but she adds shrimps. Since I hated this soup before as well, I would just get all the shrimps and my sisters and brother ends up only with the patola :)) being the youngest and with the consent of my mom, they had no choice but to give all their shrimps to me hihihi

  18. miswa with patola is one comfort food that igrew up with . in our family we do two variations
    that i like to share with your readers instead of meatballs we use any kind of clam sea water or fresh water and the other variation we use pigs brains with dried shrimps or hibi

  19. This use to be and up to now our alternative for a won ton soup if no one is in the mood to wrap dumplings. Using a mixture of ground pork and shrimp for the meat balls and throwing in a ham bone in to the simmering chicken broth makes it really special.

  20. I love this! For variation we use shrimp or ground beef. Perfect for rainy days!

  21. We cook this but don’t use meatballs … just ground, unformed pork or beef, or shrimp. The patola (diced) can also be included in pancit bijon. The liquid from it adds to the taste of the dish. Learned that from Tita Jit.

  22. Umm, haven’t seen anyone dis this dish until now. You’d probably be equally revolted by something we really relish down our way, patola in pancit guisado and mami. But I hope, not as much as me with sugar on bagoong. Oh well, chacun à son goût, as your local boucher chevaline would whinny.

    @Pits, Manila, that’s not bolabola then, just labolabo.

  23. I didn’t really care for the misua noodles or the patola either when I was younger. My dad learned that we preferred just the bola bola – so he would make that w/ cabbage and we’d eat that over rice. Lola’s house was a different story, we had to eat whatever was put in front of us. There were many a time that my food would just about get cold and I’d get scolded because I didn’t like the patola and I’d found nilaga rather boring. Haha.

  24. I love my Patola in Sinigang sa Bayabas, may it be a Bangus or Buto-Buto!

  25. Sugar on bagoong is desirable only when pregnant, the local boucherie chevaline is now a nail bar, but my grandmother was famous for her adobong kabayo during WW2. I don’t think they had much miswa.

  26. Can’t remember eating patola as a kid, so I wonder if zucchini would serve as a substitute? I do remember eating misua with dried shrimp as well as tiny pork meat balls and loved it as comfort/sick food. That and lugaw with egg.

  27. This is one of the mainstay dish at home when i was in Manila. My mom used to have a huge vegetable garden full of the most fragrant patolas. The patolas are for everybody. Neighbors and friends help themselves by showing up at the garden equipped with their harvesting tools. One day it scared me when a neighbor, Mang Jaime, showed up infront of our gate holding a big knife pointing upwards. I came to my senses when i realized he wants some patola.

  28. Yes, this was a reliable standby when I was growing up..a great way to stretch the meat ration for everyone..didn’t care too much for the patola, but now I miss it.

  29. Mother adored the flavor of patola. She spotted a malungay tree in CDO that gave off patola flavor when cooked and saved a few seeds, planted and nurtured them in Bataan, unfortunately, too close to the property line. The cussed neighbor must have been jealous of us getting so much enjoyment out of it, he cut the tree down to the stump. Shows you how highly mother valued self-restraint, she did not murder him on the spot. It could have been easily defended as justifiable homicide.

  30. Mr MM a local restaurant in LA serves this dish with lechon instead of bola bola.

  31. I didn’t like patola growing up but now I can’t get enough! Can someone tell me the rule of thumb when making this how much noodle to put. I always end up putting too much.

  32. This dish is a regular offering at NBI canteen. After catching bad guys which can drain one’s energy , slurping this comfort soup gives us back strength. Reading this post now aids me to make a DIY misua-patola at home and impress my wife and kids!!! Thanks Marketman! Now don’t call me Agent Patola hehehehe…

  33. this takes me back to when i was young and full of hope, and patola vines grew freely in my lola’s backyard. lovely post

  34. A house favorite and one of the first soups I learned to cook as a kid. We’d have this with fried fish, usually galunggong or little dilis simply salted then fried in hot oil.

    Thank you for bringing back memories.

  35. On my younger days,my mom make this dish after dental visit..it is a comfort soup,feel good dish.

  36. Ah! Comfort food for me. :D

    But this dish is dependent on how good the patola is. I don’t like it as much if the patola is bitter, or too mature it feels like eating a loofah.

  37. Yummy especially during the rainy days! We lived in the farm far from the market place during my younger days so in the absence of mince meat (which was always the case) my mother would use frog legs (frogs were easily available back then and there were no poisonous frogs yet), instead of meatballs or meatballs made from tinadtad na frog legs!

  38. Love almondigas! Hubby doesn’t like it though because of the misua’s texture so sometimes I substitute sotanghon for the noodles. Yummy!

  39. instead of meat balls, canned sardines or mackerel serves well too with patola!

  40. My husband doesn’t like much misua or patola, but still whenever i cooked them he is forced to eat, he he he!! so sometimes, i use sotanghon instead of misua. I love slimy veggies like takway,okra and saluyot. we even substitute ugbos ng boyboy to our laswang labong with shrimp/crabs if those 3 are unavailable…. yum!….:)

  41. great article. but instead of pork, what else can be used for the “meatballs”? and will they taste the same?



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