Almondigas: Meatballs, Sponge Gourd and Misua Soup
When I was living in the Philippines, there were many delicious dishes that I really enjoyed without ever knowing how the raw ingredients looked like, among them patola, or sponge gourd (also known as luffa, ridge gourd or some variation of cucumber). I also enjoyed misua soup but had no idea what kind of noodles to look for when shopping in the supermarket. When I entered my independent life and had to cook for myself at home, I had to learn all about vegetables, fruits and raw ingredients. But imagine this for a moment: it was a time when the Internet has not yet been invited!
Almondigas is basically a meatball soup, popularly known as Albondigas in Mexico and other countries. This Filipino version uses meatballs, patola and misua noodles. Many Filipinos eat this soup with steamed rice, but I am just as content without the extra carbs.
1 lb ground lean pork
1 cup cooked shrimp, shelled, tails and head removed
1/2 cup turnips, sliced into very tiny squares
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup onion, sliced
1/2 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsps corn starch
2 tbsps sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Knorr beef bouillon cube
1 large sponge gourd (patola), peeled and sliced crosswise into rounds
1/2 package (4 oz), misua (wheat noodles)
1 head garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp fish sauce
10 cups water
In a large mixing bowl, combine ground pork, shrimp, turnips, 1/2 cup chopped onion, egg, corn starch, sesame oil and salt and pepper to taste. Knead with clean hands and form meatballs, about 1 1/2-inch in diameter. Place meatballs on a plate, cover with foil and store in freezer while preparing the other ingredients. In a small frying pan, fry the garlic in a small amount of Olive oil until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside. In a large wok, heat about 2 tbsps of Olive oil. Add the sliced onion and cook until tender. Add 10 cups water and bring to a quick boil. Add Knorr cube and cook until fully melted. Add fish sauce. Retrieve meatballs from freezer and drop them one at a time into the boiling water, cooking the meatballs for about 5 minutes. Add the misua noodles. The noodles will absorb a lot of the water, so you may need to add more water if you like your dish to be more soupy. Add salt and pepper as necessary. Add the sponge gourd and cook until tender. Turn heat off. Serve in a bowl, topping with green onions and fried garlic.