I thought I would share with you some of the veggies and trees that can be found growing in many Filipinos yards and on their property. In the Bisaya dialect, these things would be called mga pagkaon na makit-an sa lataran: food you find in the yard. In American English, we simply say “backyard food”.
That photo there is of a very special tree found in many backyards in the Philippines. It’s malunggay.
Malunggay is also known as moringa outside of the Philippines and its scientific name is moringa oleifera.
Why is malunggay very special? Well for one thing, almost all of the tree can be eaten. The seed pods, leaves, roots and even the flowers can be eaten. But the real reason it’s very special is because it’s super nutritious. In fact, according to Strong Harvest, gram-for-gram, malunggay leaves have:
2 x the Protein of yogurt
4 x the Calcium of milk
3 x the Potassium of bananas
4 x the Vitamin A of carrots
7 x the Vitamin C of oranges
Strong Harvest also says that malunggay has antioxidants which are thought to protect cells and all of the amino acids that our bodies need.
My wife Menchu tells me that it’s usually only in Mindanao that they add malunggay leaves to tinola manok, Filipino chicken soup. She has made Chicken tinola that way for me several times and I must say it’s tedious work to strip the malunggay stems from the branches and then the leaves from the stems.
One of the local Visayan soups that I’m dying to try is called Law-uy and is made with a lot of malunggay leaves as well as pumpkin, tomato, corn, eggplant and other veggies.
So there it is, the first and one of the most nutritious of the Filipino backyard foods: malunggay.
photo credit: Ahmad Fuad Morad via photopin cc