Siling Labuyo (Chili Pepper)
Siling Labuyo or Chili Pepper (Scientific Name: Capsicum frutescens) is a common backyard plant in the Philippines especially in the province. Its plant growing to a height of 0.8 to 1.5 meters only, thus the city people or those who doesn’t have a garden or extra lot can cultivate them in a flower pot. The leaves (dahon ng sili) are known source of iron and calcium and Filipinos use them as vegetable and a popular ingredient to Filipino dishes such as “tinola” and “monggo”.
The pepper fruit (sili) grows numerously per one stem and are in bright red when ripe. It grows to 1.5 to 2.5 cm long. Filipinos believe that the smaller and the brighter the red color of the pepper fruit is, the stronger the chili taste is. Filipinos love to eat them raw like crushing them in vinegar sauce or mix them with other condiments or make them into chili sauce. They also mix them in dishes especially with “ginataan” and to almost all kinds of appetizers. They are most popular in the Bicol Region.
These photos are taken from my sister’s backyard in my provincial home. My sister grows the Siling Labuyo plants along with the camote crops, malunggay, pandan and other backyard plants and harvest them for daily cooking use. She said that she just threw some dried pepper to scatter the seeds in the backyard and the pepper plants grow by themselves. The Siling Labuyo are just annual or short-lived perennial plants. The pungent smell of the Siling Labuyo can be smelled in the air while I’m taking these photos and my husband and son were picking the pepper berries. We brought a bag of fresh Siling Labuyo to our city home and I made it into a chili sauce. In the province you can ask a handful of siling labuyo for free from your neighbors where they grow in abundance. In the city, a few grams of the Siling Labuyo costs around PhP10.00 (US$0.24).