Halaan (clams) and malunggay soup

casaveneracion.com clams (halaan) and malunggay soup

The more common way of preparing this simple soup is to add sili leaves to the clams after the heat has been turned off. The pot is covered for a few minutes to allow the sili leaves to wilt before serving. But after I gave birth to my first child, my father would make this soup using malunggay leaves. Whether there is a scientific basis for it or it is simply another old wives’ tale, I am not sure, but my father said malunggay helped with the production of breast milk. He wanted the best for his granddaughter. :)

Malunggay (Moringa oleifera Lamk,) is a tree; both the leaves and the fruits are edible and highly nutritious and has been referred to as nature’s medicine cabinet and a miracle vegetable. The best part is… oh, okay, there are two. First, malunggay is very cheap. PhP 5.00 worth of malunggay is quite enough to cook a soup for four people. Second, malunggay leaves taste good. No bitterness, no hard fibers, no aftertaste.

Ingredients :

1/2 kilo of fresh clams (halaan)
8-10 stalks of malunggay
half a head of garlic, peeled and finely minced
a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and julienned
an onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 tbsps. of vegetable cooking oil
patis for seasoning

Cooking procedure :

If available, buy live clams–the ones that visibly still spurt water. Wash, drain and place in a bowl. Cover with water and let sit in the fridge for several hours to allow the clams to expel sand. Change the water every few hours. From personal experience, they require a longer soaking time than mussels (tahong). When I buy clams early in the morning, I let them soak the entire day and cook them for the evening meal. I have had the unfortunate experience of cooking them after letting them soak for only about three hours and the result was disastrous–there was sand in the broth.

The nice thing about clams is that unlike mussels, you won’t need to do much after soaking them. No “beards” to pull out. Just give them a good washing in clean water, drain and they’re ready to go into the cooking pot.

Prepare the malunggay by removing the leaves from the hard stalk. The easy way to do this is to place the top of the main stalk between your forefinger and your thumb. Slide your fingers down and the smaller stalks to which the leaves are attached will come off. The ones on the top portion are tender enough–you don’t need to pick each leaf one by one. But the stalks at the bottom of the main stalk are not as tender. Locate the top of each, place it between your forefinger and thumb and slide your fingers down like you did with the main stalk.

Heat the cooking oil in a pot. Saute the garlic and ginger together, then add the sliced onion. Pour about 5 cups of water; season with patis. Bring to a boil. Add the clams and allow the water to boil once more. At this point, the clam shells would be open halfway. Add the malunggay leaves, cover and simmer gently for about two minutes.

Serve at once.

The Author

Hello, my name is Connie Veneracion. I cook, I shoot, I write. But I don't do the laundry. I don't like housekeeping very much either... (more about me)

51 Responses

  1. JMom says:

    My lola said the same thing about ginger infused soups increasing milk production. And she said clear broths like this one are the best. Baliktad naman dito, malunggay leaves are such a novelty, one we can only get them frozen, and two, they cost an arm and a leg!

  2. Connie says:

    Hala, dito pwede nga manghingi sa kapit-bahay hehehe

  3. kulasa says:

    Have you ever cooked or tasted something made from the malunggay fruit? W have a tree here pero puro dahon lang ang ginagamit (as hinihingi). Yung fruit natutuyo.

  4. lemon says:

    hi.this has got to be my favorite food, next to guinomis. it’s a goot thing that buying malunggay leaves has become unnecessary for me since my mom-in-law planted malunggay, sili, and tanglad (lemongrass) in our backyard. jmom’s woe is even more novel for me, expensive malunggay?oh no.

  5. neri says:

    my father loves malungay leaves and its fruit very much, especially when cooked in diningding way.

  6. Ludwig says:

    I missed this dish!! I remembered my aunt prepared this back home and I loved it.

  7. Connie says:

    kulasa, not yet. my friend was just talking about a dish using the malunggay fruit last sunday. intrigued nga ako eh.

    lemon, i wanted to plant malunggay too. our next door neighbor has a tree. but friends say the leaves often go into the “alulod”.

    neri, ah, so the fruit can be cooked as diningding… thanks for the info.

    ludwig, hehehe time to learn to cook it. :)

  8. neri says:

    yes it can be cooked that way, just peel off the hard skin (outer area, dark green in color) then slice mo lang sya parang sitaw.

  9. Olive says:

    i just bought a box of frozen NZ mussels, pwede rin ba tong lutuin the same way as the halaan? wala kasing fresh dito sa isteyts kaya puro frozen lahat pati malunggay:o(

  10. Ludwig says:

    Kaso lang, I’m not sure where to find malunggay around here. One of the ingredients is the problem. Ill have to improvise with what is available so it won’t be the same. :(

  11. iska says:

    hi connie! tagal ko nawala na naman…

    that’s exactly how my mom cooks halaan soup. yun naman bunga ng malunggay. oo nakatikim na ko nyan. nilalagay ni mom sa bulanglang. oo nga ano! i think i forgot to mention malunggay dahon at bunga in my bulanglang post….

  12. Connie says:

    neri, am going to the market in the morning, i’ll look for some. intrigued ako.

    pwede, olive. don’t forget the ginger. :)

    ludwig, naku, can’t think of any substitute for malunggay ah.

    o, iska, bulanglang naman… i really need to find the fruit of malunggay hehehehe

  13. misty says:

    hi! may dish with malunggay fruit na super favourite namin! my mom cooks it with pork and tomatoes. its so yummy.

  14. JMom says:

    Connie and Kulasa, check ninyo ang blog ni Mike, he has a post on mallungay fruit. Sarap in dinengdeng and in his case, pinakbet.

  15. Olive says:

    hi connie, suggest ko lang to others na nahihirapan humanap ng mga pang-rekadong gulay, you can use spinach leaves instead. i do that when some of these veggies are not available in some pinoy stores. thanks!

  16. Mario says:

    Wow! I miss my mom’s home cooking.

  17. Dot says:

    How I miss malunggay! I picked up about 4 frozen bags a few months ago. I tried, I really tried to keep it longer than 2 months but I love and missed it so much I could not wait to use all bags. Looks like I need to make another trip to Birmingham real soon. :)

  18. Connie says:

    misty, any idea what’s it’s called?

    Thanks, JMom. Haayyyy… I need to bloghop, really. Missing a lot.

    Thanks, Olive, I’m sure Pinoys abroad will find your suggestion very useful.

    Mario, in my case, my Father’s cooking. My mother can’t cook. LOL

    Dot, special trip for malunggay? Grabe, the things we take for granted here in the Philippines.

  19. Rey S. says:

    My variation of this is I use tomato sauteed until it’s almost like a “sauce”. I put spring onions if no other leafy green is available.

  20. naoj12 says:

    i’m currently breastfeeding and i can attest to the effectivity of malunggay. there is also a malunggay tablet to increase breastmilk production.

  21. hans says:

    bbrrrpppppp… excuse me

  22. Ludwig says:

    Thanks for the suggestions Oliver. However, it won’t be the same with malunggay though. Well, at least it is worth a try to alleviate homesickness. :)

  23. Jo says:

    Hi Sassy

    Bulanglang ang dinengdeng are almost the same, dinengdeng in the Ilocano and int he Tagalog region they call it Bulanglang. Love this dish, especially if served with grilled milkfish or if none, whatever fried fish… sarap! sarap! lalo na with squash flowers!

  24. Connie says:

    Ah I see, you they’re regional names for the same dish. Thanks for the info, Jo. :)

  25. armina says:

    before I asked you about malunggay recipe, now it’s here! Thanks a bunch… I cooked this recipe yesterday and It’s one of the best filipino dish…

    only one thing I don’t like from halaan is there’s still a lot of sand inside the shell, so maybe If I’ll cook this recipe again, I’ll steam the halaan first and wash with clean water until no more sand and then I’ll mix it to the soup :D hehehe


  26. sarah says:

    i’ve done a research today but i’m not satisfied with the result.

  27. sarah says:

    this is my continuation of my comments, i’ve made a research about process in getting oil in malunggay then the result is the recipe. HOW DARE YOU I’m in despair dont you know that!

  28. roa says:

    i want to try recipe using malunggay for my pre-mature baby…..

  29. LOUIE says:


  30. karen says:

    I hope our cooking contest will successful

  31. Connie says:

    Cooking contest??

  32. rhenz john baldos says:


  33. elise says:

    do you have other malunggay recipes????

  34. mac says:

    Please send me recipes on malunggay!!! Or any affordable soup dishes. Because my wife and I love soup!!! Thanks!!!!

  35. Malunggay Is the Best says:

    Yah yah yah.. have you ever taste malunggay that look like a fish

  36. ang-ging says:

    i believed about the benifits you can get from malonggay. i was skinny when i was pregnant (my friends called me butiking buntis). my aunts and mu lolo always prepared something with malonggay on it (isda, clams, even tahong). it was 3 months before i gave birth, yung gatas ko (breast milk) tulo na ng tulo. sa awa ng Dios i saved money from buying milk and i have a very healthy and smart baby.

  37. Lisa says:

    Hi Miss Connie

    I have here a can of whole baby clams, do you think I can substitute it with the real thing? I also have bottled clam juice.



  38. maybe says:

    i just cooked this meal today, because I’m a breastfeed mom, pero sobrang bitter.. bakit ganun? normal ba yung lasa nun? or may mali lang sa luto ko???

    • Connie says:

      You probably overcooked them. They react to heat like sili leaves. Cook too long and they turn bitter.

  39. maybe says:

    and btw twice ko na tong niluto… same taste… supper bitter.. and masakit sa ulo after kumain.. the good thing about this meal naman ay nakakadagdag talaga ng gatas..

    • Connie says:

      Answered above already.

      Re masakit sa ulo after kumain: Ah ibang usapan na yan. You’d be better off seeing a doctor.

  40. maybe says:

    ok,, i’ll try na lutuin to ng saglit.. baka nga na overcooked ko..tnx.. :) normally ano ba lasa ng sabaw nito pag niluto xa na parang Tinolang manok?

  41. Pio M. Sian says:

    I was fascinated by Manila Clams, A multimillion business of farmed clams. It is sold all over the states all the way to Florida. And we have a lot of other clams here. Manila Clam is Halaan!!! It was a stow away in a Japanese shipment of oysters. The scientists studied their characteristics and uses and how to raise profitably. It was ecologically sound, one clam can clarify 50 gallons of water perday, grew faster than local American clams. From the 30’s to the present it had spread to the Pacific Northwest like astorm. It is very popular in the whole US. You can buy it fresh in many major Oriental grocery stores. Many Chinese restaurant have them in their menu and they are expensive!!! In the Philippines where it came from it is not popular except when made as soup with Malunggay (Moringa) to induce milk production on nursing mothers. Also in the old country, it is maintained poorly and like Diwal it might get into an endangered species possibly extinction. Here in Florida we plant Malunggay from seed and they grow faster. Calamansi get over one inch if allowed to grow, not harvested too early.

  42. Pio M. Sian says:

    I noticed one entry mentioning about grit (sandy grains). When I make Clam Chowder (New England is with potatoes and cream while Mahattan style is with Tomatoes). I boil them briefly until they open up.
    Pick the meat off and discard the shells. SAVE the Water, That is the flavor. Chop the meat & boil a few more minutes stir carefully, scoop the meat and place in a separate dish. Carefully pour off the water
    you will be suprised at the amount of grit, broken shells at the bottom of the pan. Rinse these off and proceed with your style of cooking. Don’t throw away the water you poured off. That’s the best part.