The ubiquitous camote plant. Everywhere I walk in our neighborhood, chances are I will always come upon a patch of camote plants, either growing wild in an empty lot or deliberately planted in a home-style garden for that household’s consumption. It’s just like the kangkong — also called swamp cabbage or water spinach — which grows year ’round and grows lush in wet areas like swamps, marshes, and waterways. But with the camote or sweet yam, you can dig up the rootcrop and enjoy it many ways. You can caramelize it for dessert (with a dash of Tanduay Rhum maybe, if you prefer a little kick), boil and dice for halo-halo, fry it as chips, cook and eat it as part of a viand, or even bake bread or a pie with it.
I’ve seen residents and their household helpers walking the streets carrying a bunch home! Many times I myself am tempted pull out and harvest a handful or two of the humble talbos ng kamote (camote tops or the shoots and leaves of the sweet yam) to bring home and have for lunch or dinner as a salad.
To make a simple salad, I steam or poach the talbos for a few minutes. And rinse them immediately in cold water and drain afterwards. Then I mix some diced raw onions and tomatoes. Then for the dressing, just a balanced blend of kalamansi and bagoong na isda (I prefer the ones from Pangasinan, rather than from Balayan). The salad is a perfect partner with crispy danggit maybe or daing na bangus or any fried or grilled seafood.
So down-home simple and easy yet so good!