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Go home and just plant camote!

August 8, 2011

Christina's Trellis

Umuwi ka na lang at Magtanim ka na lang ng kamote!

In english, it says, Go home and Just plant camote or sweet potato. This is one of the most common phrases uttered in Tagalog (Filipino language), when one is economically challenged. For example
1. a newly graduate cannot find a job, her/his siblings will tease ” Umuwi ka na lang at Magtanim ka na lang ng kamote!”
2. the breadwinner losses his job, he will say “Uwi na lang tayo sa probinsya (let us go back to the province) Magtanim na lang tayo ng kamote!” (Let us just plant sweet potato).

This is what most Filipinos will say as a self-depreciating humuor or to tease a love one, when being dissappointed or worried about their finances or lack thereof.

Now, I view planting camote or sweet potato in a whole new light. I am particulary inspired by a Malaysian home gardener (Christina), view her blog here.

I showed the photos to Nanay, and made plans to make a trellis similar to what Christina made.

Sweet Potato Leaves Ensalada (Salad)

Sweet Potato Salad (leaves only)100 grams talbos ng kamote (sweet potato leaves), leaves picked
1 piece kamatis (native tomato) sliced into thin wedges
3 shallots (young native onions/sibuyas), peeled and sliced thinly
1/2-inch piece ginger, sliced thinly
2-3 teaspoons bagoong alamang (shrimp paste), to taste, depends on how salty/strong your bagoong is
1-2 teaspoons vinegar, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper
– Steam the talbos ng kamote (leaves and soft stems only) for 3 minutes. Immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water then set aside to drain in a colander.
– Top the drained leaves with the tomato, shallots, ginger, bagoong, vinegar, and pepper. Toss lightly to just combine. Taste and adjust seasoning (you can add more bagoong or vinegar if you’d like it more salty or sour).
– Serves 2 as a side dish.

This is a very simple salad widely made in lots of Filipino homes throughout the country. Talbos ng kamote or kamote tops are the leaves of our native sweet potato plant. You can use them in soups or stews (like munggo guisado), but I love them this way. Steamed lightly and tossed with bagoong alamang (shrimp paste), young native sibuyas (like shallots), kamatis (native tomatoes, not the huge salad ones you get at the supermarket), ginger, and a little drizzling of vinegar, it is a delicious reminder of why I love my native Filipino salads – salty, sour, a little tang from the tomatoes (which never become as sweet as their Western cousins), and the assertive pungency of raw onions. The combination of the steamed greens and the other, uncooked, vegetables results in something that is both crisp and yielding, a quality that a lot of our local salads have – more of which I hope to share with you as this blinding heat continues to descend.

This is heaven on a hot, not-yet-summer, day. It is excellent eaten alongside some fresh fish, which is just what we did. To my neighbors over here…stay cool folks!

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