The list of local vegetables you can make into a dish such as this one is endless: from okra (lady's fingers) to kangkong (water spinach) to young squash leaves to sayote leaves (young chayote leaves) to ampalaya (bitter gourd/bitter melon), both the fruit and the leaves to sigarilyas (winged beans) to pechay or bok choy (Chinese cabbage).
How to prepare it
Wash the sweet potato tops really well.
Bring water (about 2 1/2 - 3 cups) to a boil and place the leaves in it.
Drain it after 2 - 3 minutes*, you don't want the leaves to be overcooked. And the crunchy texture is great!
Let it cool a little before adding chopped tomatoes and red onions. You don't really want to cook them in with the hot sweet potato leaves.
Add the calamondin (kalamansi) juice. You can replace this with fresh lemon juice if you don't have calamondin. Add bird's eye chilis if you want it spicy.
For the salty dressing/condiment/dip, you can pair it with a little soy or fish sauce, salted shrimp fry (bagoong) or fermented fish/shrimp (bagoong alamang) or just add a dash of salt.
*The time you need to cook the vegetable will differ depending on which vegetable you are using for the recipe. Okra and ampalaya (fruit) usually takes longer; for sigarilyas you might want to just blanch it and wash it with cold water right after to keep its crunchy texture.
The "love story" between me and this dish probably started when I worked for an urban poor non-government organization in 2004. My colleagues introduced this to me during our lunch cook-offs. And as they say, the rest is history.
|Okra (lady's fingers) with sliced tomatoes, red onions and bird's eye chil with calamondin sauce.|