Saturday Herbs and Flowers…


If I visit the Salcedo market on a Saturday, I almost always check in at the stand of Gil Carandang… I am always intrigued at what he has on offer and even if there isn’t anything “new,” he has some of the most “honest” offerings in the market, grown on his farm or nearby locations, typically organically raised and the stuff is just earnest and good. Last Saturday, I brought Gil a potted herb2kaffir lime that I had carefully marcotted from our tree at home and had promised him months ago. He took one look and asked me to pick a few items as a barter for the tree. I ended up with four items… first, up top, a small package of edible flowers that are great for a garnish or to incorporate in a salad. Frankly, I find them a bit bizarre tasting but they are great for making a plate look terrific, whether you eat them or not! Next, I picked some gotu kola, which I have eyed before and have no idea what it is used for. I think this is the plant/herb that I saw on Santos’ website Scent of Green Bananas many moons ago, and I was determined to name it for her but didn’t get a chance until just recently. Now that I have purchased some, I spent over half an hour trying to search her archives but can’t find the right post…at any rate, it is an herb used in Ayurvedic treatments and is supposed to be rejuvenating and revitalizing. Great for waking up the brain’s nerve cells…can always use some of that, can’s we?

The third item I picked out was some edible weeds called “isang dakot na bigas” – they looked interesting and are supposed to be added to salads but after I washed a stem and popped it into my mouth let’s just say it goes on my list of garnishes instead of salad greens.


Finally, I got a packet of “pansit-pansitan” which is supposed to be good for one’s gall stones and it can be put in salads as well… Some of this stuff might be a bit esoteric for most of Marketmanila’s readers but isn’t it nice to know that someone sells it???



13 Responses

  1. Yes, I remember pansit-pansitan. It must be the most common herb/weed in the playgrounds of my childhood. As a kid, I thought it very beautiful and loved picking it (that’s when I wasn’t trying to catch dragonflies to mutilate). I saw a reference not too long ago in a food- or medicine-related article. Let me try to remember where it was.

    I have never heard of gotu kola but those leaves sure look like pennywort to me-a well-beloved herb in mainland SEAsia, beloved in Vietnam, called the bua bok leaf (bai bua bok) in Thailand. Pennywort infusions sold by the glass out of large clear plastic containers by streetside vendors can be found all over Bangkok (by the piers of the Chao Phya ferry for instance). (BTW, as in the P, that’s usually a real glass not plastic, the glass is then washed out in a little water kept on the side for the next customer.) You can buy .75 cans of pennywort drink in virtually any Vietnamese/Thai grocery in the US.

    “Isang dakot na bigas” is a very evocative name. Never heard of it, but the picture seems to be that of a variety of purslane. Purslane is considered a weed throughout N America but the Mexican variety (known as verdolaga) is one of the basic, most popular herbs of everyday Mexican cooking (and now being rediscovered for Alta Cocina Mexicana). If it is a purslane, the leaves/paddles should be succulent/crunchy (this is part of the its charms for gastronomes) with a distinct bitterness. I have written about its

  2. Oops. Don’t know why the above post was cut off:


    I have written about the verdolaga on other food forums (the “paddles” of the verdolaga are considerably larger than those of the “rice grains” of the picture above). The European variety of purslane (pourpier) is also being rediscovered for contemporary French gastronomy as one of the legumes oublies (forgotten vegetables) of the “legumes oublies” movement. It has also been showing up with increasing frequency in the greatest American restaurants. A tasting menu by one of the most famous American chefs once included a course of foie gras garnished with nothing more than a couple of paddles of purslane. The sharpness of the purslane, contrasting with the richness and decadence of the foie, was a most eye-opening gastronomic experience indeed!


  3. Our yaya used to make her own “herbal tea” concoction out of pansit-pansitan. As kids we were ask to gather “just enough” for her daily does.

    I recall she’d cut wash then boil it, roots and all. Then she would add some honey and drink it like tea. She said it was good for hypertension, helped her with her daily bathroom calls, and also gave her energy to look after us kids.

    I still haven’t found out it it works or what it’s really used for but my yaya (though she’s not working for us anymore) is almost 90 now and and going strong.

  4. Waaaaaahhhh!!!. . . .I really have to go and see the Saturday Market in Salcedo. . . I really love experimemting in salads and it has been a long time that i am looking for some edible flowers and different herbs. . . I am looking for edible plants found in rural areas here in the Phil. and actually, I learn a lot from the people there, some of the salad ingredients that are used are young mango leaves, caviar looking moss that grow in ricefeilds called “tabtaba”, and even curly hairlike flower “balaiba”. . . they are all good, and a nice variety for salad instead of getting expensive imported ones. . .

  5. pansit-pansitan can be commonly seen growing on pots around our house. After picking and washing it, my lola would eat it as a salad with vinegar and pepper dressing. much like how a pipino is eaten.

  6. I didn’t know that pansit-pansitan can be added to your salad. As a child we just used this weed whenever we wanted to have something in our pots when playing bahay-bahayan. Same with isang dakot ne bigas, didn’t even know that’s what they are called and some puple looking leaves from a vine, which I do not the name. LOL.

  7. i ate pansit-pansitan while vacationing in Port Barton in Palawan a few years ago. my friend told told me they were good for your health so i picked a few from her garden and gobbled those. nice taste!


  8. I picked up a very healthy aloe plant from Gil’s stand a couple of weeks ago. The compost he uses is also healthy for other plants in the garden.

    Interesting stuff you bartered for. Good to know it’s available if you come across a recipe that asks for it.

  9. MM, you have a good eye for pictures and food presentation. The “lowly” garden herbs such as pansit-pansitan & isang dakot na bigas look so chic when placed in a long stemmed glass and set against a woodgrain backdrop. Nice!!!

  10. I thought pansit-pansitan is wild plants which grow elsewhere. I can”t even imagine that it has good use, all i knew is that it is not a food then i found out that it is now use as herbal medicine. Wow, i just got amazed.

  11. The taste of pansit-pansitan when boiled as tea is just like a refreshing gulaman with sago drink. Just boil a cup or two, and then turn off the stove and put the pansit-pansitan without the roots.
    For the ‘isang dakot na bigas’, it usually grows in our garden but my late Mom would ask us to remove those at they have a supertitious belief that if you grow that in your garden, it will be easier for you to run out of rice in your ‘cavan’. But now i’m interested on that as a part of my salad. :-)

  12. Until I wrote this post, I had honestly never heard of or come across pansit-pansitan and some of the other stuff…it amazes me how many people are familiar with it! Just shows you how much there is to learn about in food and related topics! Thanks everyone…



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