Grilled squid over a bed of chopped cilantro, red onions, tomatoes and squeezed with lime.

Pinakbet is synonymous to being Ilocano. It is our favorite dish, in fact, almost like our regional dish and it is a very easy dish to make. The secret to a good pinakbet or dinengdeng, the other Ilocano dish, is an excellent bagoong, preferably monamon from Lingayen, Pangasinan. If it is not available, you may use Batanggas balayan.

1/2 lb. pork meat, sliced into cubes (you may substitute shrimps or cooked chicharon with meat or what we call bagnet)
2 cups water
1 med. size onion, sliced or quartered
1 or 2 med. size tomato, sliced
2 thumb-size ginger, sliced
Bagoong to taste
3 garlic (if you are sauteeing the above)

8 med. size Asian eggplants, cut 2″ long and quartered but not all the way
2 med. size ampalaya or bitter melon, same as eggplant
1 doz. okra, cut the ends
1 lb. lima beans
1 lb. string beans, cut into 3″ length
1/2 small squash, cut into 1″ cubes

If using fresh pork, slice pork thinly and then place in a saute pan with half the water to tenderize it and to render the fat.

Leave 2 tbsp. fat in pan and add garlic until golden brown then saute onions and tomatoes.

In a 4 quart pan, arrange bitter mellon, lima beans, string beans, eggplant and then add your sauteed meat-tomato mixture. Cover the pan and let it cook for 20 mins. or until the eggplant on top gets cooked.

The easiest way is to skip the sauteeing part and just put everything in the pot and cook.

I brought this dish to my friend’s housewarming and the bowl it came in was my gift so I saved myself the effort of getting a box and wrapping my gift.

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