By: Sierra Acosta
I was born and raised in the National Capital Region of the Philippines, Manila. My mother always prepares food that is delectable as well as convenient. Having said that, red meat, chicken or pork is usually the meal’s entrée. My father, on the other hand, is a rural person at heart. He was born in the Northeastern part of Luzon with mountains and farms around. That explains why when he is in charge of the kitchen he often prepares vegetable dishes instead of meat. Pinakbet Ilocano is one of them.
Children loathe vegetables – that’s a fact. The first time I tried this dish was when I was about 10 years old, when we once visited my dad’s province. I didn’t know that Pinakbet was a vegetable. My parents wouldn’t let us know that it’s a vegetable because they knew for sure that we would not eat it. However, I still liked it, but I had to put a few veggies aside.
When I think of Pinakbet, the first thing that comes to my mind is my father and the second thing is the simplicity of rural life. When I’m eating this dish, I remember how my relatives gathered together at one big table, ate with their hands, and talked in a dialect I could hardly understand, but I knew that what they were talking about was something happy just by looking at the way they would smile.
I find this dish to be a must whenever we visit my dad’s province. It’s not an expensive food: as I said it’s almost mainly vegetables that you can grow or get pretty much anywhere.
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- ¼ kilo pork, thinly diced
- 7 small tomatoes, cubed
- 4 tbsp. bagoong (fish sauce)
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 medium sized eggplants, sliced
- 1 medium sized Ampalaya (bittermelon)
- 5 medium sized okra (ladies fingers)
1. Heat Oil in a saucepan and saute garlic and onions.
2. Add pork and half a cup of warm water. Stir and cook until meat is soft.
3. Add ginger and tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes.
4. Add the bagoong and remaining half-cup water. Bring to boil.
5. Mix in the Amplaya, eggplants and okra.
6. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve immediately over rice.