Utong (string beans or cowpea) is one of my favorite veggie. Sumptous, delicious greens. Be it fruit stewed or in soup, or in a crisp salad (boiled/blanched young fruit) with bugguong juice and tomato slices, or sautéed, or in its adobo version; or the bukel, seeds, the beans itself boiled or napabellad (napablad) sautéed in lots of garlic and onions and garnished with paria or marunggay or kalunay or camote or bilonak (also called kubay, alugbati in Tagalog) or talinum, and virtually all green leafy veggies you can imagine or can take in.
Utong. String beans, that is. pardon, but i'm not talking about the Tagalog utong (which, btw, is equally sumptous, they say).
And utong tops or shoots, of course. I usually dengdeng, stew, string bean tops as solo, without the usual partnership of other tops and green leaves. Although I also love it as a salad (bolied or blanched and tossed with bugguong and slices of tamatis (kamatis) and young lasona (shallot) (that's KBL of the Ilokanos--kamatis-bugguong-lasona). But I love the glorious soup out of it, the inherent sabeng or pas-eng--the distinct "aroma" akin to marunggay's or alukon's "fragrance" when cooked.
And when available, I add this great dried shrimp fry (called daing a kuros) to further enhance the flavor and aroma of the broth.
Flavor it with the preferred amount of bugguong. Make it that it won't become too salty. To moderate saltiness, put in just the right amount of bugguong so you won't need to add table salt. I don't add salt or patis to my dinengdengs. Bugguong itself is salt, so why add more salt?
Don't overcook the tops. Make it just as crispy and succulent as you would with the salad version. Optionally, you can add some slices of tomato just before you serve.
Here, isn't it heavenly--ambrosial--with that golden soup?
(Originally blogged October 20, 2008)