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Utan Bisaya: A Staple in the Visayan Cuisine

Utan Bisaya is a vegetable soup loaded with boiled vegetables and packed with vitamins and nutrients. It is a favourite among locals, and is a staple in the Visayan cuisine.

In Visayas, there is a popular boiled vegetable dish called utan bisaya. It is a vegetable soup that is simple to make and is loaded with delicately boiled vegetables. Utan Bisaya is packed with vitamins and nutrients and is perfect with rice and fried meat. It is a favourite among locals, and is a staple in the Visayan cuisine. 

Utan bisaya has a close similarity with other Philippine regional dishes such as dinengdeng or inabraw (Ilocos region), bulanglang (CALABARZON), and laswa ( Western Visayas).

They say you have not been to Cebu if you have not had at least a serving of this beloved local dish. It is really delectable even for the foreign tongue, and one would be remiss to miss it when visiting Cebu. Some locals call it “lau-oy”.

Utan Bisaya recipe

Total time in making the dish is 30 minutes: 5 minutes to prepare the ingredients and cooking paraphernalia, 25 minutes to cook it. For the listed ingredients below, you can have four servings.


  • 1 medium eggplant sliced
  • 10 pieces okra
  • 2 thumbs ginger sliced
  • 1 medium tomato wedged
  • 5 scallions sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach or alugbati
  • 1 1/2 cup calabaza squash cubed
  • 2 long green pepper
  • 2 slices baked fish fillet
  • 1 to 2 cups string beans cut into 2 inch length
  • 1 cup sliced loofah patola
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups water

How to cook Utan Bisaya

  1. Bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add the ginger and squash. Continue to boil for 8 minutes (covered).
  3. Stir-in the string beans, scallions, okra, and tomato. Let the liquid re-boil and then add the long green pepper and eggplant.
  4. Stir and add the fish. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the payola. Cover and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Add some salt to taste and spinach.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve.

Utan Bisaya does not need much flavouring since it heavily relies on the natural flavours of the hodgepodge of veggie in it. There are just so many versions of utan bisaya, versions of which are dependent on what you have on hand. Malunggay (horseradish tree) leaves are also an excellent addition to the soup. So if you enjoy soups that don’t mask the flavours of its ingredients, you will love this recipe. 

Optional ingredients can be added to further enrich the taste of the dish. Among the popular add-ons are fried fish which you can boil along with the vegetables or simply put on top of the soup when it is served in a bowl.

Utan Bisaya with gata

Utan Bisaya with gata or coconut cream is also a much-loved variation of the dish. You simply pour a proportionate amount of the gata after boiling the vegetables, then re-boil it. It gives the soup a more viscous texture and milkier taste, not to mention that it also makes the soup all the more nutritious. This soup is an amazing comfort food especially during the cold and rainy season. Perfect cure for hangover too, if you ask us.

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