Sunday, August 19, 2012

An Ode to the Magnificent Moringa | Kamunggay Pod Soup

I’d like to start this post with a quote from an online article the

“Other studies have shown that eating malunggay fruits can lead to higher semen count. This is good news for men who are having problems in siring children. They can now count on the malunggay to cork its magic on them.”

Kamunggay fruits can be eaten? It’s a big Y-E-S. Sad to say, I haven’t seen anyone in Cebu's Carbon Public Market selling these fruit pods, but back in our hometown General Santos City, you can see it being sold in anywhere. Why go to public markets if you have those malunggay trees with hard branches already fruiting?
And to eat these pods is almost entirely a different experience, just like eating crabs where you need to crack the shells before you get to taste the sweet spot, but this does not even need a skill: you just have to slide down the fruit starting from the tip going to the other side, extracting only the “meat” part using your front teeth and discarding the “bagasse” or “pulp” just like eating a sugar cane (oh again, it brings back childhood memories, all the fun summer days in the farm!). Well, there is not that much we can eat from these pods, but the soup is actually the star of this dish. Let's cook it and tell me why.

Here’s what we need:

2 packs of young kamunggay fruit pods
half kilo of pork ribs, or the belly part, cut into serving size (2 inches)
1 medium size onion, sliced for sautéing
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
a blob of cooking oil
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the kamunggay pods: Choose fruit pods that are young and green. Cut into segments, 2 inches to 2.5 inches long and remove the thin outer layer exposing a fresher green color. Wash thoroughly and drain. Set aside.

Saute onions until tender and translucent then add garlic. Saute for another 2 minutes until garlic is brown and fragrant. Add the shrimp paste and the pork. Add the water and simmer for 20 minutes. While the meat is halfway through cooking, add the kamunggay pods and simmer for another 20 minutes or until both the pork and the pods are tender. Add pork broth or water if needed. Season with salt and pepper according to taste. Serve hot. This is good for 4-5 persons.

Do not overcook or the pods will disintegrate when serving. The joy of eating this dish is on the pods, so better cook it just enough to get the soft meat from the pulp.

The combination of meat broth and the pods give an exciting aroma and flavor to the soup. You can also use shrimps or chicken instead of pork.

Other uses of the Kamunggay fruits
Unripe pods of malunggay are also reported to prevent intestinal worms while the fruit prevents eye disorder. Senator Loren Legarda in an article by mentioned that malunggay pods are good for treating liver and spleen problems, pain of the joints and malnutrition. Likewise malunggay seeds treat arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramps, STD, boils and urinary problems, and is relaxant for epilepsy.

It can also act as water purifier, the crushed moringa seeds can clear very turbid waters. There was even a technical university in Nicaragua showed that malunggay seeds can be used for final treatment of waste water. Further, the seeds of malunggay contain 40% oil, which is considered as an excellent massage oil.

As a living testimony, my Papsi who has been paralyzed for more than 4 years now (though he can already walk by himself now) and a diabetic for the rest of his life (yes, it runs in our blood), makes a homemade malunggay capsules made from crushed malunggay seeds. He drinks it everyday along with his other very own concoctions of dried herbs, roots of this plant, seeds of this vegetable, pulp of this fruit and so on. There’s no approved therapeutic claim, but I’m pretty sure any of those got to help control his blood sugar.

If tongkat ali, the plant touted as Asian viagra increases sexual desire for men, malunggay pods can complement by increasing your sexual fluid "production". I bet, and I'm counting years from now this neglected fruit pods will soon be a high-priced commodity once somebody with an entrepreneurial ability sees this opportunity.
Note: photos were taken in Gensan when I went home last January 2012. Unfortunately I dont have a picture of the dish. Next time, will post one here!

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