Thursday, September 04, 2008

Gulay Magalang

This vegetable dish consists of sayote tops (the young tendrils of the sayote/chayote, Sechium edule), cubes of squash, and squash flowers, sauteed together with garlic, onions and tomatoes. Small, shelled shrimps or small pieces of pork can be added for a more meaty flavor. Also hibe - dried small shrimps - which has concentrated flavor, or even tinapa (smoked round scad) flakes.

It is not something we had growing up in Pangasinan, and I wonder why, since squash is a common, year-round veggie, and our proximity to Baguio City, where sayote abounds, gives us easy and cheap access to highland-growing bounty. We paired squash with its common companion sitaw (yard-long beans), or with marunggay pods, or sigarillas.

This vegetable dish was actually the suggestion of a friend, who was introduced to it, so-named (gule magalang, the Kapampangan language equivalent), while eating at the Kapampangan-specialty restaurant Abe at The Fort. She cooked the dish at home, and I followed suit.

It is a great alternative to my sauteed sayote tops with oyster mushrooms and potatoes. The soft squash cubes and the chewy sayote leaves and sliced stalks contrast with each other perfectly, in texture and taste, sweet on peppery, the squash blooms providing a slightly intoxicating flowery smell.

I deduct that the name Gulay Magalang refers to the municipality of Magalang in the province of Pampanga, where the dish probably traces its origins. But I imagine it could also mean its literal translation. In the Tagalog language, gulay means vegetable, and magalang is respectful, from the root word galang, which means respect. So literally it claims to be a respectful vegetable.

It may refer to the respect that one practices when eating vegetables - respect for the nutrients they contain, respect for the fruits of the earth, and respect for your body by feeding it with something beneficial.

Of course I'm just playing with words here, since the arrangement of the two words points to the more logical deduction - that the Magalang attachment may not be an adjective since it is placed after the word gulay. If the positions of the words were reversed, it becomes magalang na gulay, and that's when it really becomes a respectful vegetable.

Related post
Sayote tops with oyster mushrooms and potatoes


Anonymous said...

my dear kalad,i really liked gulay magalang. I am not so familiar with sayote tops then but im now a big fan of it that i eat it at least twice a month. my own version has tinapa flakes and shrimp and little salt kasi maalat na yung tinapa. Di ko pa nagawa yung may squash flowers, wala talaga ako matagpuan sa palengke.

Kai said...

Oh, tinapa flakes wold be great! I'd try that next!

Anonymous said...

Gulay Magalang is definitely Kapampangan dish. I think Magalang (Pampanga municipality) is where the owners of "Abe" are from hence the name in their menu.

I'm from Guagua and the dish has been cooked for generations minus the chayote.

My grandma and my mother use the young leaves of sitaw and squash including the squash flowers/bloom. So healthy and yummy! Usually these were bought from the v

At times, the dish is sauteed with shrimps and chrunchy pork belly