I can say that my parents really did a pretty great job at introducing me to vegetables when I was little. Unlike most kids, I grew up eating my veggies and loving them. I still do. I enjoy all kinds of vegetable dishes – from blanched, sautéed and stir-fried to boiled, broiled or baked. But truth be told, there’s one vegetable dish that I hated back then… and that is Bulanglang,a dish that’s popular in the Philippines especially to those who have access to fresh vegetables. It’s a mixture of different vegetables cooked in rice water seasoned with fish bagoong and then topped with broiled fish which gives its distinct bitter-burnt flavor. I really didn’t like it when I was kid. I don’t exactly remember why. All I remember is that my mom always served Bulanglang with fried fish, and every time we have this duo for dinner, I would only eat fried fish. My parents didn’t force me into eating the bulanglang, but they would always tell me how delicious and nutritious it is. I’ve always believed in the “nutritious” part. With all the vegetables in it, I’m sure it’s packed with all the vitamins and minerals! But “delicious”, I always doubted it. How can boiled vegetables be delicious? I remember that I was already in high school when I decided to finally give it a try. Well, honestly, I was surprised with how good it is! It’s different but my parents were right — it’s delicious! Since the first time I tried it until now, Bulanglang became a favorite Filipino vegetable dish of mine. You may think of it as bland because it’s boiled, but I tell you, it’s not! The combination of all the flavors from the vegetables plus the bagoong and the dried fish worked so well, making this dish extraordinary but really tasty and comforting. I’m sure you won’t believe…but my daughters love this, though they don’t eat the slimy okra. :)
The manner in which Bulanglang is cooked varies from region to region. This one I’m sharing with you is my dad’s version from Batangas. Though the vegetables I used for this recipe are what’s available here in my side of the world and may be different from what’s commonly used, the way of cooking is the same.
If you want to eat a “guilt free” meal, with no oil, no fats, no meat at all, Bulanglang is the answer! The best thing about this dish is that you can choose the vegetables according to your liking. Just be sure to know which vegetables should be added first. The hard vegetables like papaya and kalabasa should go first, and the soft and leafy vegetable should be added last.
- 6 cups rice water
- 2 pcs. tomatoes, seeds removed and sliced into thin wedges
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 Tbsp bagoong Isda
- 1 medium sized green papaya (about 2 cups), peeled, seeds removed and cut into thin slices
- 1 pc. patola (sponge gourd), peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
- 2 cups kalabasa (squash), peeled, seeds removed and cubed
- 12 pcs okra, stems and tips removed
- about 2 cups talbos ng kamote (sweet potato tops), stems removed
- 4 pcs. daing na biya (or any other dried fish), broiled
- Put rice water, tomatoes and garlic in a big pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until tomatoes are soft.
- Add bagoong and papaya. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until half cooked.
- Add squash. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes or until half cooked.
- Add okra and patola. Cover and continue to simmer until okra is almost cooked.
- Add kamote tops and biya and cook for 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Serve with hot rice.
© 2012, Tina a.k.a. PinayInTexas. All rights reserved.