Each town in the Philippines has it’s own town market called palengke or mercado, depending on the vernacular. I read a short story once, that “for every hundred yards, there are also a hundred different sights, sound and smell” in the palengke. Well, it is true. The palengke supplies the town’s need for meat, fish, vegetables and all sorts of goods. It usually divided in sections, one for meat, another one for fish and one for vegetables. There is also a dry goods section where you can buy pots and pans, clothes and anything you need at home. The produce come from neighboring farmers as well as from far places especially the vegetables that don’t grown in the area.
The picture below shows the typical vegetables you find in the palengke. Mix them all up together and you would come up with a wonderful vegetable medley!
Vegetables according to numbering:
1. pechay (similar to bok choy)
2. green papaya
3. string beans
4. biter melon/ampalaya
7. a pack of vegetables for pinakbet
10. shrimp paste
12. patola (can’t remember what’s the English term)
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 onion, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
100 grams pork meat, cut into strips
2 tbsp soy sauce
sweet potato (kamote)
string beans (sitaw)
bitter melon (ampalaya)
any other vegetables
salt and pepper to taste
Saute garlic in oil till it is almost brown. Add the onion and mix till translucent. Add the tomatoes and saute for several minutes till tomatoe is soft enough to flatten. Mash the tomatoes while cooking it. Add the meat and saute till meat is cooked. Add the soysauce to brown the meat. Add the squash and saute for a few minutes. Add water, around 2-3 tbsp at a time so that the mixture won’t dry. Add the sweet potato and string beans to stir fry everything. Add more water to cook the sweet potato, a little at time. When sweet potato is almost half done, add the eggplant. Season with salt and pepper, according to taste. When eggplant is done, remove from fire and serve immediately.
To add more flavor, put a tbsp or two of fish paste when you add the eggplant.
For a more authentic vegetable medley, there is dish we call pinakbet which originated in the north of the country, the Ilocos Region. An enganging account of cooking pinakbet can be found at Burnt Lumpia.
PS – Don’t forget to submit your entry to “To market, to market” which I am hosting. It will be a wonderful collection of markets from all over.