Pinakbet (Pork and Vegetable Stew in Shrimp Paste)
Pinakbet (sometimes just called Pakbet), is probably the most popular dish in the Ilocos region of Northern Philippines. It uses a variety of vegetables easily grown in one’s backyard or obtained from the farmer’s market. The distinctive ingredient in this dish is bagoong or bagoong alamang (salted shrimp paste) which is available canned or bottled in local stores, or in the U.S. –in most Asian supermarkets. There is almost no limit to the type of vegetables one can use in pinakbet, but the most commonly used ones are long beans, okra, eggplants,bitter melon (ampalaya) and squash (calabasa). For my version of pinakbet, I am adding asparagus tips just because I love them and they complement the dish quite well. Pork rinds are also often added to spruce up the dish.
Pinakbet is similar to the traditional French Provencal stewed vegetable dish originating from Nice, called Ratatouille .
½ lb pork, cut into tiny cubes
2 cups squash, cut into small cubes
2 cups sliced okra
8-10 pcs long beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup asparagus tips
2 Chinese eggplants, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
1 bitter melon, seeded and cut into 1 ½-inch cubes
2-3 cups water, which determines how dry you want your dish to be
3 tbsp bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into small cubes
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tomatoes, sliced into quarters
2 tbsp olive oil
6 pcs fried pork rinds
In a large wok or casserole, heat olive oil
Add garlic and cook until golden brown
Add onions. Stir
Add pork and cook till browned
Add the squash and okra and cook for about 2 minutes before adding the long beans, asparagus tips, bitter melon and eggplant. Stir and cook for about 1 minute
Add the water and stir in the bagoong alamang . Cover and bring to a boil
Reduce heat and add the tomatoes and pork rinds
Cover and continue cooking until the vegetables are tender but not overcooked.
If desired, add more bagoong depending on how salty you want the dish to be.
Remove from heat and serve with steamed white or brown rice.
(Makes 4-6 servings)