This round of Lasang Pinoy food blogging event commemorates the first anniversary of an online community of Filipino food bloggers scattered across the globe.
Lasang Pinoy envisions to make its mark in the culinary world by creating awareness to Filipino food and cuisine.
Reflecting on the unexpected results of the blogging events of the past year, Lasang Pinoy 13: Definitive Pinoy, hosted by Stefoodie, is a most appropriate theme to celebrate the success of Lasang Pinoy. It asks us once again to go back to our roots and define what it is that makes our food truly Pinoy.
For this round, I would like to refer back to a recent entry, which I must say is THE mark of my being a Filipino. Of my being an Ilocano. This particular regional dish I’ve grown up with, comes on the top of my list. Simple and lowly as it may seem, the sight of this dish cooked in the simplest possible method — vegetables stewed in a palayok [claypot] over wood-fired kalan [ clay stove ], to me, is the epitome of a native Pinoy fare.
I would like to share my mother’s pinakbet, which I have featured in a series I have started a few months ago called Luto ni Nanay [ Mother's Cooking ]. I hope to be able to resume the series soon.
The ILOCOS REGION, where several provinces share similar customs, language and food, has delicacies made up of rice and vegetables derived basically from the richness of their mountainous dry land. Most of their specialties are seasoned with fermented fish sauce.
The region is famous for its Pinakbet. Pinakbet is unmistakably an Ilocano dish. It is the signature dish of the northern Ilocos region, a dry harsh area where people have to make do with what they can grow on land. Pinakbet or pakbet is an Iloco word [ contracted from pinakebbet ] which means shrunken or shriveled.
The most basic vegetables are ampalaya or amorgozo [ bittergourd or bittermelon, round native ones preferred ], talong [ eggplant ], camatis [ tomatoes ], okra [ ladiesâ€™ fingers ], ginger and/or green chilies are optional. As the name denotes, the vegetables are stewed [ usually in a clay or earthen pot called banga or palayok ] without oil and cooked until almost dry, shrunken and shriveled. Mother says, the original Ilocano pinakbet uses only bagoong or bugguong [ anchovy paste ] which normally is of the monamon variety.
Other vegetables like squash, malunggay, patani or lima beans are also optional, dependent on what is readily available. The way this dish is prepared varies â€” some parts of Ilocos, which are closer to the sea, pinakbet is topped with grilled fish. Other parts would top it with bagnet [ dried pork belly ], another interesting dish – boiled, dried, and deep fried until skin turns crispy.
PINAKBET [ Vegetable Claypot Medley cooked in Anchovy Sauce ]
Above photo, clockwise from bottom left: native cherry tomatoes, camote [ sweet potato ], talong [ eggplant ], himbabau, patani [ lima beans ], okra [ ladiesâ€™ fingers ], ampalaya or amorgozo [ bittergourd ]. Not in the photo is the malunggay fruit and sitaw [ yard-long green beans or stringbeans ] which I forgot to put in the pot.
Arrange vegetables and the rest of the ingredients in a clay pot, in layers according to the following order from the bottom of the pot up . . .
First layer: sliced tomatoes, bagoong extract, ampalaya, eggplant, sweet potato, and patani.
Second layer: sitaw [ string beans ], okra [ ladiesâ€™ fingers ], malunggay, himbabau, and finally topped with crushed garlic.
Cover pot and cook until vegetables are done â€” dried up and shriveled. Do not stir vegetables during the cooking process. Instead, shake the pot slightly to toss or flip the vegetables. Apparently, this prevents the ampalaya from getting bitter.
The cooked pinakbet, a succulent medley of freshly-picked vegetables from the backyard.
Happy first anniversary to Lasang Pinoy! Thanks Stef for hosting this round!
Pinakbet was previously posted as part of the Luto ni Nanay series. Click here to read the whole article.
Lasang Pinoy is a monthly Filipino Food Blogging Event organized and particiated in by Pinoy food bloggers around the world.