"Bahay Kubo" is a favorite folk song amongst Filipino kids. I probably first heard it from my mom. Since we used to live on a farm back in the Philippines, we spent quite a lot of time with vegetables, and my mom would always sing "Bahay Kubo" while harvesting or cooking them. She loves eating vegetables of all kinds.
This cheerful song describes typical Filipino life in the provinces. It's about growing various fruits and vegetables around a simple hut.
Nipa Hut, although it is small
Bahay Kubo, kahit munti
The vegetables in there are of many kinds.
Ang halaman doon ay sari sari.
Jicama and eggplant,
Singkamas at talong,
Winged bean and peanut,
Sigarilyas at mani,
Long beans, hyacinth beans, lima beans.
Sitaw, bataw, patani.
Ash gourd, sponge gourd, bottle gourd, and squash
Kundol, patola, upo, at kalabasa
And still there's some more,
At saka meron pa,
Radish and mustard,
Labanos at mustasa,
Onions, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger
Sibuyas, kamatis, bawang, at luya
And all around are lots of sesame plants.
At sa paligid ligid ay maraming linga.
Learn the Names of the Fruits and Vegetables in the Song
"Bahay Kubo" mentions several fruits and vegetables that are commonly used in Filipino cooking. Learn about how they grow and how to say them in Tagalog!
Also known as the Mexican yam or Mexican turnip, this root crop has to be peeled before eating. It is delicious when seasoned with vinegar or salt.
This perennial plant is used in Filipino recipes such as torta eggplant. It also goes well with other veggies alongside sinigang, a soured Filipino fish or meat dish. Eggplants can grow up to 57 inches in height!
The winged bean plant is a vine that grows well in hot countries. This vegetable has four angles and frilly edges, which is why it is also known as a four-angled bean. Other parts of the plant are also edible, such as leaves and flowers. In the Philippines, the young sprouts are often used in stews.
Peanuts grow on an herbaceous plant that can grow up to 5 feet in height. After flowering, the stalks bend until the ovary touches the ground and is pushed into the soil. Once underground, the fruit develops. Because of this, peanuts are also known as ground nuts or earth nuts. Interestingly enough, peanuts are legumes and not nuts.
This vegetable is very common in the Philippines, and it is available almost year-round. Long beans can be used in almost any dish alongside other vegetables. Parboiled long beans are delicious and go well with vinegar or lemon sauce. One of my personal favorite dishes is sauteed long beans!
This vine produces purple flowers, which then turn into pods. The young pods have a distinct purplish color that fades as they mature. The young leaves can also be eaten.
In Filipino cooking, both ends of the pod are removed. Young pods are preferred because, as they mature, the pods become leathery and hard to chew. If this happens, the green seeds are taken out for cooking, and the pods are disposed of.
This legume also grows on a vine. It is used for its seeds, which are high in fiber. Lima beans are also known as butter beans.
Kundol, or ash gourds, grow on a creeping vine that can reach up to 2 meters in length. The ash gourd is also known as winter melon. It is also sometimes called a wax gourd—as the fruit matures, it develops a waxy coating. After it has been picked, the ash gourd has a long shelf life.
A vegetable vine, the sponge gourd, is another vegetable that can be found in Philippine markets. The sponge gourd is best when harvested before it matures; once it does, it becomes spongy and hard to chew. It is also called a loofah.
Another vine, bottle gourds, are best if picked before they mature—otherwise, they will become leathery and rubbery, and the seeds will harden as well. This vegetable helps digestion and acts as a diuretic.
(Cucurbita moschata Duch)
Kalabasa, or squash, also grows on a vine. Some people grow squash on a trellis, but others prefer to let this plant creep on the ground. Both young and mature fruits are used in Filipino dishes. If a young fruit is used, the skin can be cooked. As it matures, however, the skin hardens and needs to be peeled.
Squash is high in vitamin A, calcium, and phosphorus. The young shoots, leaves, and flowers are also used in cooking.
Radish is a large, white root crop, and it's one of my favorite vegetables. When fresh, radish is crunchy, and it is used in the popular Filipino dish, sinigang.
You can make a great radish salad by thinly chopping radish and mixing it with chopped tomatoes and ground pepper. Add vinegar and sugar to taste.
The leaves, stems, and flowers are used in cooking. This vegetable is also known as Chinese mustard, Indian mustard, or leaf mustard.
Onions, or sibuyas, are one of the most important ingredients in Filipino cuisine. Onions can be found in just about every Filipino dish: in soups, sauteed veggies, and even fried rice!
Onions are easy to grow, and their leaves can be used to cook as well. It is an important ingredient in the Filipino specialty sawsawan, a sauce made with onions, tomatoes, garlic, chili, and other spices. This sauce is great with broiled or fried fish.
This perennial plant can grow up to 10 feet in height and bears round, red fruits. Tomatoes are used in Filipino dishes such as sinigang, caldereta, and they are also eaten alongside sauteed sardines and veggies.
Since tomatoes are rich in lycopene, eating them can reduce your risk of breast cancer. As a child, I was told to eat tomatoes to develop sharp eyesight. I didn't like tomatoes, but I learned to eat them raw because my uncle used to put tomato halves on my younger brother's and my plate. My uncle has been fond of eating tomatoes since he was a kid—he's in his 70s and still doesn't use eyeglasses!
Just like onions, garlic is used in almost every Filipino dish. I was also taught that garlic could be used as a remedy for coughs, colds, and asthma.
Use ginger as a spice or to make ginger tea. Ginger is used to balance and eliminate unwanted fishy smells in seafood dishes. Ginger is also used in sinigang, and can be cooked with broiled or grilled fish to give the food an added aroma.
The sesame plant can grow up to 3 feet tall, and its seeds are edible. Its flowers can be yellow, purple, or blue.