BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO 

When we think of a healthy dish that combines different kinds of vegetables, one recipe that comes to mind is chop suey. This stir-fried vegetable dish is a favorite among Filipinos because its ingredients can easily be replaced to fit the preference of the consumers or add a personal touch to this already distinct dish. 

Since April is known as Filipino Food Month, what better way to create a twist on chop suey than by using indigenous vegetables as ingredients? 

Maria Narcisa V. Garcia, an agriculturist from the Bureau of Plant Industry in Los Baños, Laguna, shares a recipe on how to make chop suey using native ingredients in celebration of Filipino Food Month in April. 

According to Garcia, the ingredients needed to make this delicious and dish are half of a patola (sliced), half of an upo (sliced), 10 pieces of kalamismis, 100 grams of kulitis, 100 grams of samsamping, fried kikiam, fried squid balls, boiled quail eggs, five cloves of garlic (minced), one onion (sliced), one cube or packet of hibe (also known as dried shrimp), two tablespoons of cornstarch, patis, oil, water, and black pepper as well as brown sugar to taste. 

Kalamismis is also known as blue ternate; for the chop suey, the pods are used but the flowers can also be an added ingredient. Meanwhile, samsamping is more popularly known in the Philippines as sigarilyas. 

Once all the ingredients have been collected, it’s time to start cooking. 

Begin creating this indigenous chop suey by placing oil in a hot pan. Then saute the garlic and onion. Once the garlic and onion have been caramelized, add in the hibe.

Next, add in the upo and half a cup of water. Cover and cook for five minutes or until the water begins to boil. When the upo softens, add the patola. Cover the pot again and cook for two minutes. 

After the patola softens as well, place the kalamismis or butterfly pea pods into the mix. Add water into the pot depending on your preference but remember to place in just the right amount to allow the vegetables to boil without the water being reduced too much. 

Season with black pepper and brown sugar. You can keep adding more along the way until the dish meets your desired flavor. 

Cover and cook again for two minutes.

Then, add the samsamping or sigarilyas to the pot and drizzle in patis according to your taste. You can also add more patis to the dish depending on your preference. 

Next, add in the amaranth as well as a quarter cup of water to allow the ingredients to boil and come together. Then, pour in the kikiam and squid balls to create more depth and flavor. 

Once the ingredients look cooked and have incorporated well, add the cornstarch into the mixture to reduce some of the water and create a thick sauce that accentuates the taste of the chop suey. 

Mix well before removing from the pot and transferring onto a plate. 

Top with boiled quail eggs and squid balls. You can also add butterfly pea flowers for a splash of color to make the dish more appealing. 

Creating chop suey using indigenous ingredients is an easy thing to do–and it’s cheap too! All these ingredients can be acquired for around P200, less if you grow the vegetables in your garden. 

When it comes to eating healthy, we don’t have to look far and wide for the ingredients that taste good and will provide us with the right nutrients, the answer can be found around us. All we need to do is utilize and appreciate them for what they have to offer. 

Watch the full video on how to cook chop suey with indigenous ingredients on Filipino Food Month’s Facebook page