How Well Do You Know The Veggies In "Bahay Kubo"?

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ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

Did you grow up singing the "Bahay Kubo" song? If so, did you also learn what all the "halaman doon" were? If you didn't, we have a cheat sheet with pictures you can look over so if anyone ever asks you if you know what all of those vegetables are, you can confidently answer and pick it out at your local palengke

Here are all the vegetables in the "Bahay Kubo" folk song plus ideas on how you can prepare and cook the vegetable if you're curious how each one tastes:      

Singkamas or Mexican turnip
Photo by Wikipedia Commons/Eric in SF

Singkamas = jícama root or Mexican turnip

The song starts off naming the singkamas (Pachyrhizus erosus). Also curiously known as the yam bean or jicama, this is a root crop that is firm, super juicy, and is fantastic to eat when salted. It can be cooked, too, and is commonly added to siomai or lumpia for its juicy texture. The skin is tough but once peeled, the singakamas variety we commonly have has a cloudy juice while the flesh itself is translucent.   

Talong or eggplant
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Talong = eggplant

The common talong or eggplant we have available is known as the Asian or Japanese eggplant. Longer than wide compared to other varieties, this is a spongy fruit (Yes!) that is used in many savory dishes in both Asia as well as the Mediterranean area. It's great simply fried or even grilled, and despite its spongy nature, it holds up well in soupy dishes such as our sinigang.     

Sigarilyas or winged bean

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Sigarilyas = winged bean

Sigarilyas, or winged beans, are a local produce that's just like green beans. The difference is that these have little wings or provisions from the sides which looks like feathery wings. Compared to other long green beans, these actually taste more fresh, more green bean-like than the other varieties. Treat these just like any long green beans by snapping off the stems and eating the entire length. This particularly delicious simply steamed or quickly stir-fried with a little salt.    

Mani or peanuts
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Mani = peanuts

The mani or peanuts are one of our most popular snacks. It's a street food whether deep-fried with garlic or boiled in salty water in its shells and is the main ingredient in our favorite sandwich spreads, peanut butter. The peanut is highly versatile and is used in both savory and sweet recipes. 


Sitaw or string beans or yardlong beans
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Sitaw = string beans or yardlong beans

Another green bean, this variety is unique in that it can and is allowed to grow quite long, hence the name. The sitaw is a thinner, tougher variety that can be used interchangeably with its green bean cousins and is also completely edible. It's one of the classic ingredients in sinigang as well as the Ilocano dish, pinakbet.    

Bataw or hyacinth beans or lablab bean
Photo by Wikipedia Commons/Sanjay Acharya

Bataw = hyacinth beans or lablab bean

Bataw is not as common in the supermarkets and palengke but it might be because it's more popularly known as a perennial garden vine. The beans grow from long vines with lovely lavender-light purple flowers. It's known by so many different names such as the bonavist bean (Lablab purpureus). It's a large climbing vine similar to broad beans but unlike the broad beans, which are grown for the beans itself, the bataw has tender pods that are edible. While not as tender as the chicharo or snow peas, which is similar, it's pod is tough enough to need cooking before eating.  

Patani or Lima beans
Photo by Wikipedia Commons/David E. Mead

Patani = Lima beans

The patani is more popularly known internationally as the lima bean. This green bean is a broad bean so it's grown for its edible beans. Unlike the bataw or chicharo with their edible pods, these beans should be shelled for its beans. A simple preparation such as sauteing these beans in butter with either lemon or garlic (or both) would make a perfect side dish for any main.   

Kundol or  winter melon
Photo by Wikipedia Commons/Salim Khandoker

Kundol = wax gourd or winter melon 

Did you know that the kundol is actually the special ingredient in your favorite milk tea order, a hopia, and even some candies? That's right! If you're a fan of the milk tea flavor "winter melon", this is the vegetable that it's made from. The flesh of this gourd is white and is very mild in taste. It's actually the main ingredient in the Kapampangan hopiang kundol and the hopiang baboy. It's commonly soaked in alum powder (tawas) or lye water to help maintain the crispness while being boiled. 

Patola or luffa gourd
Photo by Wikipedia Commons/Anna Frodesiak

Patola = luffa gourd

If you're not familiar with the patola, it is another one of those vegetables in the market or supermarket that you have probably seen but either don't know what it is or just didn't know how to cook. This is popularly used in the Chinese dish that uses misua. Similar to other gourds, the patola is completely edible, including the seeds. It's surprisingly soft and spongy hence the name. You can slice these and use it for a misua or almondigas recipe or simply saute in garlic like you would sayote.     

Upo or bottle gourd
Photo by Wikipedia Commons/Salim Khandoker

Upo = bottle gourd

This giant gourd is locally known as the upo. Because of its sheer size which can easily grow to 2 feet in length and longer, it's common to see this vegetable already divided into portions at the palengke or even some supermarkets. Like other gourds, this is completely edible and is easy to add to stir-fry and soup dishes.   

Kalabasa or West Indian pumpkin
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Kalabasa = West Indian pumpkin

The kalabasa is a pumpkin with green skin and yellow stripes. This is one of the sweetest varieties of pumpkin. Similar to the Kabocha pumpkin of Japan, these have an intensely orange flesh that can hold its shape well under many cooking conditions. It's fantastic roasted but it's just as delicious when stewed with coconut milk which complements its sweetness very well or mashed and pureed into a creamy soup. 

Labanos or white radish
Photo by pxhere

Labanos = daikon or white radish

If you love sinigang, you have probably seen this as the translucent, round, and crunchy vegetable. This local radish is also known as a daikon or white radish. This has a stinging bite when raw but this taste mellows when cooked and becomes tender. Just like most radishes, you can eat and cook this peeled or unpeeled. This is fantastic when pickled like you would for atsara and is actually popularly pickled for the Korean samyupsal side dish. 

Photo by Wikipedia Commons/Judgefloro

Mustasa = mustard or mustard greens

The leaves of the black mustard plant are leafy greens with a sharp bite. It's common to find these edible mustard greens simply steamed or used in the side dish burong mustasa. What makes this unique is that it doesn't lose its bite even when cooked. Its large leaves make it a flavorful leaf wrap for some dishes. 

Sibuyas or onion
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Sibuyas = onion

There's no mistaking the onion! It's one of the most popular vegetables in the market and is an essential ingredient in almost all Pinoy savory recipes. One cannot after all saute the cooking trinity of garlic, onions, and tomatoes without the onion. If you're tired of the same old recipes that need onion, why not let the onion shine by trying out any of these recipes instead that give the onion a starring role in the dish?   

Kamatis or tomato
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Kamatis = tomato

The second ingredient of the trinity of cooking, the kamatis or tomato can be more than just an ingredient that melts into the background. There are many ways to use this fruit and it's not just for sauteing either. You can make a fresh tomato pasta with a "sauce" that doesn't need to be cooked, simply simmer it for a fantastic side dish for fried meat, or make it the main souring and flavoring ingredient in the soup with some bony chunks of pork.   


Bawang or garlic
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Bawang = garlic

The garlic is one of the most aromatic and popular ingredients in the culinary world. You either love it or hate it and those who love it, love lots of it in every dish they eat. It really is very pungent. The final and third ingredient of the trinity of Pinoy cooking, this herb can be fried to a crisp, roasted until soft and tender and becomes sweet, and can even be rubbed on crusty bread give to give a hint of its flavor in every bite. 

Luya or ginger
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Luya = ginger

There is no arroz caldo or tinola without the ginger. This root spice is fibrous so it can be difficult to prepare but its flavor is unmistakable for those who adore its stinging bite. It's the essential ingredient in many Chinese-inspired dishes and is the ingredient that is commonly used to help remove unappetizing smells and tastes such as those found in the tahong. It's fantastic in stir-fries and in sauces. However, use just enough to give your dish flavor because it can be overpowering when too much is added. 


Linga or sesame seeds
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Linga = sesame seeds 

These tiny seeds are often ignored or unnoticed in recipes where it's commonly used as a garnish rather than a flavor. Their size requires more than just a few pieces to be noticeable. These little seeds, however, become something more when pureed or made into an oil, and its warm, earthy flavor suddenly becomes irresistible for those who love its aroma. Use it as an ingredient or a garnish, but it's just as delicious when used as an ingredient in sweet desserts, too.  



Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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