Saluyot – jute mallow, Egyptian spinach, molokhiya
Saluyot is a green leafy vegetable enjoyed by Filipinos, especially Ilokanos in my part of the country ever since I can remember. It has green, serrated leaves and slimy when cooked. It grows up to at least two feet tall. It has yellow, almost insignificant flowers and produce tons of seeds when you let the flowers mature. The seed pods are green and will turn brown upon reaching maturity. Saluyot or as Hawaiians call it molokhiya grows like weed with not much care. They like full sun and consistent amount of water. It has no known pests or diseases. It is relatively easy to grow.
Saluyot is widely cultivated for its fiber content. The jute fiber is also widely used second to cotton in making ropes, twines, etc.
Experts say that saluyot or molokhiya originated from Egypt and they say that this vegetable is Cleopatra’s secret for over all health and beauty. I can understand that now because saluyot has anti-oxidants like Vitamins C and E, beta carotene and a rich source of iron and calcium. I do not have any idea how valuable this leafy vegetable is when I was young, but I will eat it anyways because it is delicious. We like it cooked with fish sauce (bagoong) together with labong (bamboo shoots). It is really the best combination, but we also use it together with green papaya and we call this dish dinengdeng. This dish is made by boiling water and flavored with the fish sauce, just like the Japanese dashi (bonito stock) and when the bamboo shoots are cooked, the saluyot leaves will be put last because it only takes a minute to cook them. We also put grilled fish like tilapia or bangus (milkfish) to enhance the flavor more.
Saluyot in the my hometown is available year round especially during rainy season. Here in Hawaii, it is also available in Chinatown almost everyday of the year. In California, I have seen fresh leaves in Oriental/Filipino stores and open market, but most of the time they will be sold frozen.