“Pinakbet is from the Ilocano word “pinakebbet” meaning shriveled or shrunk in reference to the cooking technique where the vegetables are cooked until shriveled to a dry stage.
The dish has also been regionally modified to include a different version based on the flavoring agent used. Ilocanos use fish bagoong (bagguong to the region) which is called “monamon”. As you go south, bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) becomes the flavoring of choice.
Pinakbet is a very healthy stew of vegetables and pork. And Ilocanos have adapted a way of cooking it by layering the vegetables in the pot. The vegetables with the longest cooking time goes on the bottom and the one with the least cooking time goes on top. It is then cooked covered then simmered until the vegetables are done. Now, here is where it gets interesting, there is hardly any stirring involved. The pot is held on both sides then vigorously shaken and tossed until the vegetables inside have rotated. The ones that were in the bottom are now on top. And this technique preserves the integrity of the vegetables without much breakdown that happens with constant stirring and mixing.”
PINAKBET (ILOCANO STYLE)
2 cups leftover lechon kawali (preferably bagnet) or boiled pork belly
2 pieces talong (eggplant), sliced into 3-inch pieces
2 pieces amplaya (bitter melon), pith removed, sliced into 3-inch pieces
12 pieces okra
1/2 kalabasa (kabocha squash), peeled & cubed
1 bunch sitaw (long beans), cut into 3-inch lengths
1 thumbsize ginger, sliced into strips
1 large onion, diced
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fish bagoong (anchovy), mixed with 1/2 cup water then strained before adding
1. Layer the vegetables starting with what goes on the bottom: squash, long beans, bitter melon, okra, eggplant, tomatoes, ginger, garlic and onions.
2. Add the lechon kawali (bagnet or pork belly) and bagoong mixture. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer.
3. Unless you’ve done it before and did the shaking the pot technique, I would recommend the traditional way of using a wooden spoon to gently stir and mix the vegetables to check for doneness.
4. Simmer until almost all liquid has been reduced.
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