One of the dishes that I miss from the Philippines is the Pinakbet and daughter Kris also swoons for it. There must be some ‘Ilocano’ blood in me to like this dish so much since I could really eat it quite often; this is known to be an Ilocano dish. One of the secrets in cooking this is not to overcook it. The other is, the order the vegetables are placed; it’s according to what gets cooked first.
A celebration of Filipino vegetables flavored with bagoong or fermented shrimp paste, Pinakbet is a dish from Ilocos, one of the northern provinces of the Philippines.
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
- 1 cup sliced onion
- ½ cup coarsely sliced tomato
- 2 tablespoons bagoong alamang - cooked
- 250 grams pork belly - slice into 1-inch pieces
- 2 cups pork or chicken broth
- 500 grams kalabasa (squash) - peel and slice into ½-inch by 1 ½ - 2 -inch pieces
- 12 pieces okra - do not slice
- 5 pieces pole beans (sitaw) - cut into 3 inch pieces
- 6 small ball shaped eggplants or 2 long ones - small ones, slice into halves; the long ones, slice into 3 or 4 pieces
- 1 bitter melon (ampalaya) - slice lengthwise into half and then into 1-inch pieces like half moons
- 50 grams chicharon (pork crackling) - cut into 1-inch pieces
In a non-reactive casserole, over low heat, pour in cooking oil and sauté garlic till like tan.
Add in the onion and continue simmering for 2 minutes.
Then add the sliced pork and toss about for 2 to 3 minutes till all the sides are seared.
Add the tomato and bagoong and continue simmering for another 3 minutes.
Pour in the broth and simmer till the pork is tender.
Remember to occasionally stir the mixture to prevent mixture from sticking at the bottom.
When the pork is tender, arrange the squash in a single layer over the mixture.
Then the eggplant; next the sitao; top with okra and last the ampalaya.
Cover the mixture; do not mix; let cook for 10 minutes and test for doneness; test the squash. If not yet done, give another 2 minutes or so.
Top with chicharon.
Do not over cook.