What's The Difference: Singkamas vs. Labanos

These two vegetables look the same when cut up and cooked, too.

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ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

How can two vegetables be more different? The singkamas and the labanos are definitely different but also share a few surprising similarities, too. 

Both are translucent white in color once peeled and even have similar textures. When cooked, both the singkamas and the labanos turn even more translucent. In fact, neither vegetable needs to be cooked at all. Just like singkamas or jicama can be eaten raw, so can the labanos or daikon radish. 

Curious how these two vegetables are different apart from their obvious differences in looks? Here are the facts:  

1 Singkamas is a turnip. Labanos is a radish. 

This might be the biggest difference between the two. A turnip is not a radish and vice versa. These are two different vegetables but can be used in many ways that are similar. While singkamas is commonly eaten raw, the labanos is commonly cooked, especially in dishes like sinigang. 

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2 Singkamas is part of the roots. Labanos is part of the plant. 

In the plant world, these two vegetables are different. That's because while both are considered root vegetables, the singkamas is dug up from the soil while the labanos is usually only partially buried in the soil. This is why the singkamas is a root vegetable since it grows under the soil and away from the sunlight much like potatoes.  


The labanos meanwhile is buried almost completely in the soil but the top part is exposed to the sunlight and the plant grows from the tops, similar to a carrot. That's why the labanos also has roots but is topped with a crown of green stems. 

3 Singkamas is sweet and starchy. Labanos is peppery. 

When you take a bite of each raw vegetable, the difference is stark. Both are actually quite crunchy when raw but that's where any similarities end. Singkamas is watery with an aftertaste of starchy and a touch sweet. The labanos meanwhile is totally the opposite. It's got a bite that's peppery and almost like the punch of wasabi but milder but it also has a sweetness underneath the sharp flavors. 

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4 Singkamas is brined or usually served with bagoong. Labanos is pickled or fermented like kimchi. 

One of the many ways you'll love the singkamas served beyond being served as part of a dish is when it's been salted brined. It can also be stored in water and instead be served with a generous helping of bagoong alamang, usually on a stick, as street food fare. It's common to find this food on a stick together with the mangga't bagoong sellers. 

The labanos is similar in the sense that it too can be brined or, to be more precise, pickled. It's a common snack for those who love Korean cuisine. This is also prepared like kimchi, slathered with lots of chili powder and fermented until its delicious and crisp-tender. 


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