Tasty Vegetable Dish in Bangus Fish Farm

By | September 23, 2022

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Tasty Vegetable Dish in Bangus Fish Farm

One thing we like staying in the fish farm is the food. The milkfish (“bangus”), tilapia, mudfish (“dalag”), or prawns that can be caught from the ponds are rich sources of protein. Depending on season, fruits, leafy vegetables, edible flowers, and root crops can be picked inside the farm. All of them  fresh, natural, and cheap.

While we plant and grow a number of our fruit trees, vegetables, and root crops, others simply grow naturally around the pond. 

“Papait” plants growing along side of fish pond dike

“Papait” plant – newly dug up, with its root soil intact 

A good example is the edible pond weed (called “papait” in Pangasinense and Ilokano, “sarsalida” in Tagalog, “bitter leaf” or “slender carpetweed” in English) that can be found growing naturally in our farm. Among locals, it’s considered a common weed, but technically it’s an annual herb. 

Another close up view of “papait” plant – this time in a plastic pot

We notice that “papait” plants grow abundantly at the sides of the earth dikes of our ponds during the months of January, February, and March. When this time of the year comes, I ask my farm house cook to go out and pick some leaves and cook “papait” dish for me. It’s one of the favorite vegetable dishes that I enjoy in the farm. 

My cook picking young shoots

Here’s how we prepare and cook the delicious “papait” dish.

1. Check out the dikes for patches of “papait” plants that can be picked.

Patches of “papait” plants ready for picking

2. Pick or harvest the young “papait” shoots, 2 to 3 inches long, and put them in a plastic bag. 

Picking some young shoots/leaves for cooking

3. After picking enough shoots/leaves good for one cooking, transfer them in a small basin. Fill up with tap water and soak the leaves for a while.

Picked “papait” leaves in a woven tray (“bilao”)
Fresh leaves in basin being filled with water

4. Clean thoroughly in water, remove any debris from leaves. Make sure no trace of sand or residual dirt remains.

Cleaning and soaking the leaves

5. After soaking and cleaning, transfer the “papait” shoots/leaves in another small basin. 

“Papait” leaves ready for cooking (left); “papait” plant in plastic pot shown for comparison (right)

6. Prepare sauting ingredients: onions, tomatoes, garlic, shrimp paste (“bagoong alamang”), cooking oil. 

Ingredients: from top, “papait” leaves, shrimp paste (“bagoong alamang”), onions, tomatoes

7. Saute onions and garlic in cooking oil (we do cooking in the farm using the traditional clay stove “kalan”, using only firewood). 

Onions and garlic being sauted

8. When onions and garlic start turning brown, add the shrimp paste (“bagoong alamang”). 

Shrimp paste (“bagoong alamang”) added

9. Add the diced tomatoes and mash them thoroughly until soft. 

Diced tomatoes added
Tomatoes being mashed until soft 

 10. Add the “papait” leaves. Remember not to add water. 

“Papait” leaves being added

11. Mix and cook for a few minutes, then transfer in a serving bowl. 

Cooked “papait” dish

Sauted “papait” is best eaten fresh from the clay stove, with newly steamed rice.  Usually served with fried bangus or tilapia. Try it. Happy eating! 

Freshly cooked “papait” dish with newly steamed rice

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