The vegetable sayote is one of my favorite vegetables, but its talbos (vegetable top leaves) was not known to me before. In fact, I only knew of it when Tita S served us a salad using talbos ng sayote (sayote tops/top leaves). We liked it so much that we've made our version of talbos ng sayote salad many times.
The other day we found really fresh talbos ng
sayote and thought of buying a kilo. But the tindera (sales lady)
offered us 3 kilos (her whole stock) at a "buy 2, get 1 free" scheme.
At first I objected, saying we couldn't possibly consume 3 kilos as a
salad, to which she replied "Ha? Salad lang ang luto ninyo? Maraming
luto na masarap itong talbos ng sayote!" (What? You only "cook" it as
salad? There are many delicious ways to cook sayote tops!) Of course I
asked how else they were cooked?
The tindera said that
the best and most delicious was ginataan (cooked in coconut milk/cream)
and she proceeded to tell me how...
pick the leaves, shoots and soft stems, discard the tough stems. Rinse
to remove any dirt. Saute ginger, onions and garlic. Add some ground
meat and shrimp (or rehydrated hebi/dried shrimp). Add thin coconut
milk then add the sayote tops then a couple of pinches of sea salt over
the sayote tops (this is the secret method, she said). The coconut milk
should be enough so that when the sayote tops shrink (as they cook)
they will be submerged in coconut milk (so add more coconut milk if
needed). Season to taste (I added dried chili). When the sayote tops
are nearly cooked, add thick coconut cream (check seasonings) and let it
simmer until thick.
She also said the sayote tops can be
sauteed simply with garlic, or for a special touch, with inihaw na
liempo (roasted pork belly) or it can be added to pakbet (a northern
mixed vegetable dish cooked in bagoong na isda or fermented fish
In short, I bought the whole lot.
We plan to cook another kilo as ginisa with liempo (sauteed with roast port belly). For the third and last kilo, we plan to use half in a salad and the other half to add to a pakbet dish (as she suggested!)