Pinakbet Tagalog

Eggplant, Bittermelon and OkraWhenever I see this grouping of vegetables, the first thing that comes to mind is another traditional Filipino dish called Pinakbet. This is what I call Pinakbet waiting to happen. When cornered into translating this dish for English speakers, I simply call it vegetable stew. Basically, that is what it is, a melange of vegetables stewed until their flavors meld.

I called this one Pinakbet Tagalog because that is what my Ilocano grandmother calls this sauteed with meat version. The Ilocano version uses no oil and uses Bagoong (fermented anchovies) instead of Alamang (shrimp paste).

Although this dish is traditionally cooked with pork, I have also cooked this as a side dish sans the meat and it is just as delicious. The combination of the vegetables is just classic. There have also been occasions when I didn’t have bittermelon on hand, plus the girls arent’ too crazy about the bitter gourd, so I have also been known to leave this particular vegetable out. There are many variations to this dish so don’t be afraid to substitute or add other vegetables of your choosing. Another traditional ingredient to this dish that I didn’t happen to have this time around is butter squash which I have also substituted with zucchini squash. No matter which vegetables you choose to “stew”, the mandatory ones for me to be considered pinakbet are the eggplants and okra. Luckily, I have the holy trinity of Pinakbet in my garden and as the weather is starting to turn cool and I will soon be without these, I figured as a last hurrah to the summer I would cook Pinakbet one more time.

Initial saute' of Onions, Garlic, Tomato & GingerINGREDIENTS:
1/2 lb. Pork (with some fat on it – I used pork butt)
2 tablespoons Oil
1 Onion, sliced
4 cloves of Garlic, chopped
Thumb sized knob of Ginger, sliced into rounds
1 cup Tomatoes, chopped (I used cherry tomatoes)
2 Tablespoons of Shrimp Paste (Alamang)

Start by cooking the meat in about 1 cup of water until all the liquid evaporates and the meat starts to render some fat. Depending on how much fat is rendered, you may have to add another tablespoon or two of oil to saute’ the rest of the ingredients in. When the pork is slightly browned on the edges, add the garlic and onions and cook until fragrant, about a minute or two. Add the ginger, tomatoes and shrimp paste and cook for another couple of minutes until the tomatoes have softened and flavors are starting to blend. Note: if you can’t find shrimp paste or just don’t want to add it, you can omit it. I have also been known to do this especially when I want my non-fish-eating daughter to eat some of it.

Layer VegetablesThe vegetables you use depends on what you have on hand. This time around I added to this dish:
3 cups of Yard-long beans and regular Green Beans combined
a few florets of cauliflower (because that is all that is left in the garden and wanted to cook them up)
1 Bell Pepper, cut into squares
3 Japanese Eggplants, cut into serving size
10-15 pods of Okra, stem removed
1 medium sized Bittermelon, sliced diagonally
1 cup of water

Add the water to the sauteed onions and tomatoes, mix briefly then start layering the vegetables in the pot starting with the vegetable that takes the longest to cook up to the one the takes the least time to cook. The vegetables above are ordered in the way they were layered in the pot. Cover, and cook for about 7 to 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender but not overcooked. Stir just before serving to distribute the flavor of the aromatics at the bottom of the pot and to mix the vegetables. Serve over rice.

Pinakbet or Vegetable Stew

This post is my contribution to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging which was conceptualized by Kalyn’s Kitchen to feature different herbs, vegetables, plants or flowers. This week, this event is being hosted by Sher at What Did You Eat?

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13 comments on “Pinakbet Tagalog
  1. JMom says:

    Hi Dexie! I love ampalaya too. I still have some and I would send them to you, but di ba ampalaya is bad if you’re breast feeding?

  2. dexie says:

    can’t beleive i forgot to comment on this one. hayy, sarap. that ampalaya is calling my name πŸ™‚

  3. JMom says:

    Hi Midge, that bagoong sisi sounds intriguing! I’ll have to make a mental note to try it when I’m there in Dec.

    Yeah, bell peppers are great in pinakbet. I also use the spicy peppers sometimes, when I have them.

  4. Midge says:

    JMom, that pinakbet looks super-delish! (I was just surprised when I saw the bell pepper; why didn’t I think of that!) Here at home, we use bagoong sisi from Pangasinan. It’s made with miniature oysters (sisi in Panggalatok) and it gives such a meaty flavor hindi mo na kelangan maglagay ng sahog!

  5. JMom says:

    Hi mae, really? you speak/understand ilocano? I didn’t know that πŸ™‚ It’s hard to keep your language skills up to par when you have no one to practice on. I find it comes back to you faster once you’re immersed in it though.

    Hi Chas, thanks. Me too without bagoong, it is just guisado to me.

    Hi Tin, yeah, galing lahat sa garden namin yung mga gulay. Ang sarap ng fresh veggies! πŸ™‚

    Hi Rowena!are you going back to the islands soon? This is one of my nostalgic dishes too, it just makes me miss my family even more.

  6. JMom says:

    Hi Stel, sana nga, masanay din ang aking Clone one day. πŸ™ ah, yun na nga ang pangalan nung squash natin, cabocha, right? I forgot.

    Hi Kalyn, bitter melon is certainly an acquired taste, but I’ve learned lately that it also has many health benefits especially for diabetics.

    Hi Iska, how weird that there is no okra in Beijing. I wonder if it has to do with the weather not being conducive to okra growing?

  7. rowena says:

    As soon as I read this in my bloglines acct, I knew it just had to be kept as “New” so that I can make this version when I get back to the islands. You made me so HUNGRY reading this post! Aiyaaaa!

  8. Tin says:

    Hi J,

    yehey…finally, naglaway tuloy ako when I saw the picture especially the okra and bittermelon is my kind of “PINAKBET” yummmy…galing ba yan sa garden mo?

    What have you been up to lately?

  9. charles ravndal says:

    Hmmm that looks quite tasty ate. Well for me pinakbet is not complete without the shrimp paste or bagoong

  10. Mae says:

    I love both version of pinakbet. Your term ‘pinakbet waiting to happen’ is so right. It seems one’s first instinct when they see these vegs together, is to make pinakbet – whatever version they may prefer.

    It’s one of the first dish i learned to cook. Sadly, my ilocano tounge is not up to scratch anymore but can still understand a little. πŸ™‚

    What a great inclusion to WHB!

  11. iska says:

    i grew up with 2 types of pinakbet ? saut?ed (mom?s cooking) & ilocano style (dad?s). love them both! here in Beijing i often wonder when i can cook “real pinakbet” – yung kumpleto ang veggies. cant find okra here πŸ™

  12. kalyn says:

    This sounds just fantastic. I haven’t had bittermelon, but I like all those other veggies, and the savory seasonings you use sound wonderful. I have a nephew who lived in the Phillipines for a while. I think I better send him this recipe.

  13. stel says:

    an sarap naman JMom all fresh crisp sweet vegs…kakainggit!!! same here, it must have okra and eggplant or else it’s not quite true. i also love kabocha squash with it.
    don’t worry about The Clone, i was like her when i was young, no fishies for me but look at me now. just keep offering it and she’ll take a bite someday…

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