Pinakbet is the most talked about Ilocano dish. It is an inexpensive but savory vegetable dish. However, for the frugal Ilocano, it becomes a luxury when chicharon (bagnet), another Ilocano specialty, is added to it. Authentic Ilocano pakbet is a mélange of eggplant, okra, sitaw, pallang, siling mahaba, tomato, bittermelon and shrimp sauce. The last four ingredients give the stew its distinct piquant taste.
The glamorized pinakbet with chicharon is reserved for special occasions. It stands out among meat dishes — like dinardaraan, igado, kaldereta, kilawen, dinakdakan, sweet spareribs and lechon (the pièce de résistance) — ever-present on the smorgasbord table. The pinakbet with chicharon, and sometimes, with patani and tomato sauce or ketchup (instead of tomatoes) is a unique blend wonderful on the palate. I like it more than the original pinakbet.
Pinakbet ken Chicharon Recipe (makes 4 servings)
- 1/2 kilo assorted vegetables ( sitaw, sili, talong, ampalaya, pallang and okra )
- 10 pcs sliced camatis (tomatoes)
- 2 cloves garlic, lightly pounded
- 1 small ginger, lightly pounded
- 4 oz water
- 3 tbsps bugguong (shrimp sauce)
- 1/8 kilo chicharon, chopped into desired size
- 1/2 pork cube (optional)
- Wash vegetables thoroughly, then slice ampalaya in halves and the sitaw and talong into 2-inch pieces.
- Put everything, including chicharon, bugguong, water and seasoning inside the cooking pot.
- Cook until it boils, then mix lightly. Wait for another 2 minutes and remove from heat. Now, you can enjoy your pinakbet with chicharon.
*Recipe courtesy of Miss Aprill Lyn Calantes Coloma. Photographed by Blauearth