Friday, March 14, 2008

Ilocano Pakbet

Pinakbet (or Pakbet) is just about my all time favorite Filipino dish. During the summertime I enjoy going to the farmer's market and shopping for my Filipino vegies to cook this dish. As a child I hated the commonly disliked ampalaya but over the years I have come to like them that in fact they are now a favorite. There are several ways to cook pinakbet and it varies from one region to another - the Ilocanos like it shriveled while the Tagalogs like it half cooked and crunchy. Also the Tagalog style usually calls for squash, and shrimp paste is used instead of bagoong. Either way you have to be prepared for the smell :)
The recipe that follows is more of the Ilocano version, much simpler I suppose. Enjoy!
Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)
  • 1 cup liempo (pork belly), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 pcs small ampalaya (bitter melon), whole but slit in the middle
  • 6 pcs baby Philippine or Japanese eggplant, whole but slit in the middle
  • 12 pcs okra (i love okra!)
  • 8 pcs sitaw (long beans), cut into 2" long
  • 3 medium size tomatoes, wedged or better is use several cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup bagoong sauce (thick anchovie sauce, not the same as fish sauce).
  • 4 cloves garlic, pounded
  • 4 thin slices of ginger
  • a drizzle of oil to coat the pan
  • other optional veggies that can be added are Patani (lima beans) , pallang, sili, alukon and patola
  • Note: Bagnet or bacon could be an option to liempo.
1) Heat oil in a pan and add garlic and pork liempo. Cook in low heat, slowly (to tenderize meat)until meat is golden brown.
2) Add vegetables in layers in the following order ampalaya-okra-eggplant-long beans-ginger,
and put tomatoes on top.
3) Strain bagoong and pour it over the vegetable. Add half a cup of water, cover and simmer.
4) After 3 mins after it boils, toss the pan (do not stir to mix) so that the vegies on top goes to the bottom. After 2 minutes, toss again. Do this until vegetables are cooked to desired doneness.
I prefer it cooked the Ilocano way shriveled and almost dried-up. After all, Pinakbet is actually a short term for pinakebbet, an Ilocano word meaning dried up and wrinkly.
Serve hot over steamed white rice.

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