Stir Fried Cabbage & Ham a la Marketman

Times are tough. Buying power is shrinking and acab1most people would be offended if you described the pain you are encountering sticking to your South Forbes Diet while they worry about where their next carbohydrates are coming from. Some readers over the past few months have suggested that everything featured on this site is a bit “high-brow” and often out of their reach. While I will not apologize for some of the delicacies and luxuries that I have featured, I do get irked when people write such things without realizing that many of the recipes that I have described are in fact quite economical on a per serving basis. The same people who are likely to write these comments are just as likely to have said this after eating a PHP49 value meal of a deep fried chicken wing served with a bit of rice and wickedly fattening gravy… well, do they realize they could replicate that meal at home for less than PHP20 and not have to pollute the planet with one more styrofoam fastfood container? Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the concept of value and of convenience, but many are missing the point if they are not cooking more economical, tasty and nutritious meals right in their own kitchens.

Here is another example of a quick, easy, tasty and economical dish you can do at home. acab2Take PHP40-50 pesos worth of ham scraps or bits from Majestic ham or similar prepared ham and chop it up roughly. Add one chopped white onion at PHP5. Slice up one whole cabbage (remove central stem) that costs roughly PHP25. Heat up a large pan on high heat and add about PHP5 worth of vegetable oil. When really hot, add the onions and chopped ham and stir for a minute or two. Add the cabbage still over high heat and cook until wilted, do not overcook. Add some salt and cracked black pepper. Total preparation and cooking time – 10 minutes max. Total cost, including gas used and depreciation on your pan… about PHP90 and this easily makes six main course sized portions or PHP15 per serving. Add some steamed rice and you have a great meal for PHP20, about the same price as a discounted fastfood hamburger with nothing on it. And best of all, it tastes great. The closest rival in terms of cost and appeal is adobong kangkong (a favorite of mine), which sometimes retails for PHP15-20 in your neighborhood carinderia but would cost about PHP10 per serving to do at home. If readers have recipes for other easy and economical dishes, please write in…


21 Responses

  1. I agree with a few readers of your blog that some stuff you blog about are “out of reach” or “high-brow”. But I really don’t care, I get entertained and i learn something new.
    Stir fried cabbage is one cheap and easy way to put food on the table. I have done my share of “emergency” cabbage stir fries, with whatever stuff i can find in my freezer and pantry.
    I have this accidental economical recipe. Sardinenuts.

    2 cans of sardines
    1 large foil pack of Nagaraya Cracker Nuts

    while still in the pack, smash the nagaraya nuts to smithereens using your cans of sardines. fry the crushed nut mixture until slightly burnt and add sardines. Oh so very “high-brow”! hahahaha

  2. I’m on your side on this one, Marketman. Good food is good food. If people start plugging in economy into the picture then they are missing the point. This website is about eating for taste and exploring great flavors. Sure, everything has a price tag — some cheap, some steep — and I totally dig the concept of financial prudence but hey, let not anyone take away the fun out of this blog. It is obvious that good fortune has struck Marketman. He is tremendously blessed and this is his way of sharing it. I’m happy being a vicarious eater. This is a blog celebrating of all of God’s bounty on his kitchen and dinnertable. For the readers looking for economics in the kitchen, feel free to sign up at (I am neither connected to Del Monte or Marketman btw –)

  3. Yum yum…that cabbage dish looks good enough to be partnered with Sinangag (garlic rice)…

    Honnestly, it never occured to me how you can quantify food pricing to even include depreciation of your pan, MM, maybe its now time for Food Economics 101. ;o)

  4. I have to agree with Gigi. Good food is good food. MM, this is a great site and I hope you continue to blog about fantastic food, expensive, dirt-cheap or in-between.

    Y’all, while I realize this blog is based in a third world country, this is not a for-profit site nor a charity site. Market Man is doing this out of pure enjoyment of food. Freedom of speech and all… Let the guy post what he wants to post. =)

  5. i agree with everyone, at least now i’m learning na there are lots of ingredients/stuff/places na available pala sa atin …. and it makes me more excited to discover these for myself when I come home for a visit :)

  6. Actually, without your market tips I would most likely be paying over-priced everything! You actually seem very conscious of putting the prices/costs/values in previous posts, where other sites do not. This helps me a lot too…thanks Marketman! I am not one to talk about economics though because I always say “you can’t put a price tag on happiness” and I am notorious for indulging myself, food-wise and otherwise :)

    On another note, I am seriously thinking of having some sardinenuts…

  7. my gosh, if we’re not allowed to indulge in food, then what in the world can we indulge in without being asked to feel guilty? “high-brow” is purely subjective. we all have our own priorities, e.g., my family sees food as our #1 concern, so we sacrifice on other things. we’ll wear 10-year old sneakers before we give up our favorite olive oil, tamago and our first-rate Pinoy ingredients available here — yes, there are other, less expensive things but we refuse to compromise). some people see nothing wrong with spending thousands on footwear or the latest style of sunglasses or camera phone, whereas i would balk at this type of lifestyle. kanya-kanya lang talaga. puede ba, live and let live?!

  8. Sardinenuts…I love it! You should patent the name! Thanks everyone for those encouraging comments. Food is a very high priority in our household.

  9. Go Marketman! We love this site as it is. In fact this site has become a daily staple to all the people I have introduced this site to. Even my teenage kids check out Market Manila. Gigi has said it all.

  10. You go Marketman! Dont let those “high brow” comments get you down. Keep on sharing the good stuff!

  11. Hi Marketman! Hahahahaha! Loved the quantification!That ought to drive the “nail” into these “critics” heads! Anyway, if others find your recipes too “expensive” then they should not make it – simple as that! Hmmm, time for me to try that cabbage recipe, looks simply delicious!

  12. I missed the “depreciation on your pan” item in the cost of food preparation. So obsessive-compulsive! Brilliant idea really, hehehe. I’m doing designs and layouts on the side, Now i’m really thinking of adding depreciation costs for my keyboard, my mouse and mousepad!
    i had a half kilo (50 pesos) of organic lettuce delivered to me a few days ago and was in dire need of dressing it up with something else aside from mayo. Off to the grocery I went and bought a bottle of olive oil for about 175 pesos. This is quite a luxury considering my very tight budget but it made a very wondeful vinaigrette (with pureed mango , ordinary del monte vinegar, knorr seasoning)…
    Now if i was scrimping and used vegetable oil instead, it would not have created melodies in my palate.

  13. Don’t mind those nega comments. This is your journal, you can do whatever you want to do. As I said it before, I learned so much from you. I can get alternate recipes from you besides the usual cookbooks. We tried and tested your recipes and we all loved it. Keep it up.

  14. write on, mm! who the hell would criticize YOUR blog journal?! did i miss something or even the culinary world is being invaded by ‘leftist elements’? what is this, militant cooks? to paraphrase marie antoinette, ‘let them eat cake!” anyway, the 120%-mark-up value meal hits the nail on the head, nothing is more pathetic than that! and don’t forget the instant noodles with the 100% profit margin, too. i say, so what if it’s highbrow? why? can’t people who are familiar/educated with the finer points of culinary fare who are willing to spend their own hard-earned money have the right to enjoy their grun without somebody giving them the evil eye?

  15. I like the way people are reacting to this blog. Goes to show we’re maturing as a people when it comes to culinary sophistication. I don’t buy the sardines with cracker nuts however. Sounds like something I would’ve done in a boarding house in college however, I will not fault lee for his tastes and wish him good eating with his sardinuts.

    This is my take on sardines:

    Curry Sardines

    1 large can sardine with tomato sauce
    3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
    1 white onion, peeled and quartered
    2 ripe tomatoes, sliced into quarters
    2 chilis (pangsigang will do), sliced if you want a hotter dish
    1 large potato, boiled, peeled and sliced into large chunks
    2 pcs lemongrass, use bottom 3″ only, pounded whole with roots trimmed
    Cream from 1 large coconut
    1 T good curry powder
    3 T vegetable oil
    3 pcs green onion, sliced into 2″ lengths

    Heat oil in a pan. Saute garlic and onions briefly. Add curry powder and heat through. Add tomatoes, chilies and lemongrass and stir fry briefly, about 1 minute. Add the coconut cream, sardines with the tomato sauce and the potatoes. Stir gently until the dish comes to a boil. Dish up and serve garnished with the green onion.

    Serve with fried saba bananas and garlic fried rice. Finally, serve with a soup bowl of instant noodles for a meal that would hopefully bridge the low brow/high brow gap.

  16. High brow schmy brow, it’s about food, a basic necessity that we can’t do without. As Stefoodie correctly put it, priorities! And the cost of good food is never out of reach. Use public transportation instead of guzzling gas, don’t buy the latest cellphones or other toys. But never, ever stint on good food. And that’s your theme MM, to spread the good word about food and good living. Heck, even your flower shopping is to promote the local available flora at Dangwa. Who can snipe at that?

  17. mol thanks for that recipe! Everyone else, thanks for the comments…maybe the high brow refers to my extremely bushy eyebrows…or unibrow as some might say…my daughter used to say I looked like ernie or is it bert on sesame street who had just one eyebrow…

  18. patola with misua:
    chopped onions
    chopped garlic
    1 whole patola
    1 pack misua (P2)
    salt & pepper
    1 pc bouillon cube
    4 cups water

    * just saute everything together and simmer. serve hot, all for P20, serves 2-4. very easy to make and easy on the budget.
    you can add hibe (dried shrimps or any leftover meat in the ref):)

  19. I am not at all inclined to believe that these are high brow dishes… its just a matter of refinement of taste that is involved in MM’s cooking style. The heart of the matter is what tastes good… requires a lot of sophistication in material quality. That is to say… that most good food must have good ingredient sources that are very subjective. You must source your ingredients very well, cook efficiently and the greatest trick of all, CALCULATE very carefully how much food you really need to prepare.



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