Pinakbet: the healthy guiltless food
Pinakbet is a popular dish in the Philippines that originated in Northern Luzon particularly in the Ilocos Region. It’s a mixed vegetable recipe cooked with fish sauce or bagoong, a popular sauce made from fermented monamon (anchovies) fish. The name Pinakbet came from the Ilocano word pinakebbet that means ‘to shrivel’, the way the vegetable ingredients look like after Pinakbet is cooked.
Pinakbet is popular not just because it is very delicious and healthy, it is also cheap and easy to make. Although there are no specific vegetables needed for Pinakbet, the most common ones used are ampalaya or bitter gourd, eggplant, okra, and squash that are commonly grown by Ilocanos in their backyards.
Though Pinakbet is originally from the Ilocanos its popularity has spread all over the Philippines and thus Filipinos have come up with different versions of this dish. In some versions, pork is added into the mix. I always add pork belly in my recipe because for me, it gives the Pinakbet a tastier flavor. Try out this popular Ilocano dish in your home and let me know what you think!
1 whole ampalaya (bitter gourd), sliced into thin pieces
1 handful of sitaw (string beans) stalks, cut into 2 inch pieces
5-6 okra stalks, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 kalabasa or squash, peeled and cubed
1 whole eggplant, cut into 2 inch pieces
200 g pork belly, cubed
250 ml cup water
2 tbsp. cooking oil
1 medium onion, sliced
3-4 Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup bagoong alamang or shrimp paste
In a pot, simmer pork in water for 5 minutes until almost soft. Remove pork from pan and set stock aside.
Using a separate pan, heat oil and add the pork until brown. When cooked, set the pork aside and set aside the extra oil for later use
In a large casserole, combine all the vegetables together with the garlic and semi-cooked pork. Then add the extra pork oil you reserved earlier.
In a separate bowl, mix the reserved pork stock and the bagoong until blended well.
Pour into the casserole along with the vegetables and pork.
Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
Serve it with rice and that’s it! Enjoy Pinakbet!
Tita Kathy’s tip:
Instead of pork belly, substitute it with chicharon(fried pork rind) to give your Pinakbet a crunchy twist. Until next time!