Grow Your Own #6:What are malunggay leaves?


It’s almost the end of the month and I almost forgot the Grow Your Own event that I have started to participate since I started A scientist in the kitchen.


The last few weeks, I have been busy at work, writing my theses, drowning in DNA sequences that my head is almost spinning. Sunday, though, is family day. And after a week of eating at the cafeteria, I look forward to going home. Time for home-cooked meal that’s sure to drive the blues away.

And the beauty of living in the tropics is that any plant can grow. Some vegetables you just stick on the soil, water a few times, and leave to on their own to grow. Well, almost…

So last Sunday, we had some fish which my mom wanted to fry. I immediately suggested this dish that utilizes local vegetables such as malunggay (Moringa oleifera). Malunggay leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron and potassium. Local doctors recommend eating malunggay leaves for lactating moms. Herbal medicine books also list this as one of the more useful medicinal plants at home.


While it may be higly nutritious, it is still an underrated vegetable as only certain regions in the Philippines use malunggay in their cuisine. The dish I will share with you is something I learned from the South where I spent my childhood. Here, where I live now, near Manila, malunggay is not used as much so planting them at home is a must. The dish is called “law-uy” or “bas-uy” and consists of a broth made from lemongrass, fish or shrimps, malunggay leaves, eggplant, squash, string beans or any combination thereof. The broth is made more delicious by adding fish that has been fried already. So when we have some small fish to fry, one or two pieces goes into the pot as well.



two stalks of lemongrass (we grow them, too)
1 stalk of fresh pepper (I just harvested some, so why not add into then pot?)
1 tomato, quartered
1 onion, quarterded
1 inch ginger, sliced
2-3 eggplant, sliced lengthwise ~3 inches long
1 cup of squash, sliced
1 cup of malunggay leaves
1 small fish that has been fried
fish sauce/salt to taste

In a pot, put 3 cups of water, the onion and the tomato, fresh pepper, lemongrass, ginger, and a tablespoon of fish sauce to a boil. Once the broth has started boiling, add the fish and boil for 2-3 minutes. Add the squash. Once squash is half done, add the eggplant to cook. Add the malunggay leaves, boil for two minutes. Taste the broth and adjust taste with fish sauce.

Notes: You may use shrimps instead of fish, so add it with eggplant to cook. In some Asian countries, lemongrass is used in cooking and leaves are cut off. From where I come from, the leaves are tied around the stalk before cooking.



To market, to market – it’s a blogging event revolving around your local farmers’ market.


  1. says

    I’ve never seen lemongrass tied like that in a dish. Very neat! And the malungay sounds like a great plant to have growing in the yard! So many wonderful things you have here. Thanks for sharing it with us for Grow Your Own!

  2. says

    my daughters (10 and 8 y/o) studied about malunggay last week. they even cooked malunggay siomai. this is truly a nutritious food. nice blog…


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