Pinakbet or pakbet is an indigenous Filipino dish from the northern regions of the Philippines. Pinakbet is made from mixed vegetables steamed in fish or shrimp sauce. The word is the contracted form of the Ilokano word pinakebbet, meaning “shrunk” or “shriveled”. The original Ilokano pinakbet uses bagoong, of fermented monamon or other fish, for seasoning sauce, while further south, bagoong alamang is used. The dish usually includes bitter melon. Other vegetables used include eggplant, tomato, okra, string beans, chili peppers, parda, winged beans, and others. Root crops and some beans like camote, patani, kadios are also optionally added. The young pod of marunggay is also added. It is usually spiced with ginger, onions, or garlic. A Tagalog version usually includes calabaza. Most of these vegetables are easily accessible, and are grown in backyards and gardens of most Ilokano households. As its name suggests, it is usually cooked until almost dry and shriveled; the flavors of the vegetables are accentuated with shrimp paste. In some cases, lechon, chicharon, or other meats are added. Pinakbet is similar to the Provençal vegetable stew ratatouille except for its sauce.
INGREDIENTS FOR PINAKBET
2 medium-length eggplants, cubed
1 medium-length bitter melon (ampalaya), sliced
6 tender okra pods
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup of sliced onions
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup water from rinsing rice
3 tbsp fermented sauce (less if it’s a salty bagoong)
1 tbsp pounded ginger
1 cup boiled sliced pork
2 tbsp cooking oil
HOW TO PREPARE PINAKBET
1. In the same pan, stir-fry the garlic, onions, ginger and tomatoes.
2. Boil the rice-washing water in a large pan (2-qt capacity) with the bagoong.
3. Add the pork and the stir-fried garlic, onion, ginger and tomatoes.
4. Bring back to a boil, then add the ampalaya, eggplant and okra.
5. Cover the pan and cook over high heat, then turn down the heat to prevent scorching.
6. Cook until the vegetables are done. Don’t overcook because the vegetables will lose their bright colors and become mushy.