You can’t claim to be an Ilocano (someone from the Ilocos Region in Northern Philippines) if you haven’t had dinengdeng. It’s basically a vegetable stew akin to pinakbet or the French ratatouille.
But dinengdeng is unique in many ways because the dish can be as simple or as “elaborate” as you want it to be. But you have to have some basic vegetables which many Ilocanos grow in their backyard. Of course, it can’t be called dinengdeng without the fermented fish sauce (bagoong) for flavoring.
The dish can totally be cooked with vegetables or mixed with grilled or fried fish, usually, bangus (milk fish).
For this recipe, I used bitter melon, eggplant, long beans, alukon (birch flower), malunggay leaves, moringa fruit, sigarilyas (winged beans) and monamon (salt fermented anchovies). I couldn’t find squash flower at that time so I skipped it.
1 bangus (milkfish), cleaned and sliced into four pieces
1 eggplant, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 bitter melon, seeded and sliced into rounds or crescents
1/2 cup, cut long beans (2-inches)
1/2 cup, sliced moringa fruit
1/2 cup, malunggay (moringa leaves)
1/2 cup, alukon ( birch flower)
3 pcs, sigarilyas (winged beans), cut into thirds (diagonally)
1 small onion, sliced
1 small tomato, sliced
1 thumb ginger, peeled and cut into ribbons
4 tbsps, monamon or bagoong (fish sauce)
4 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
Season fish with salt and pepper to taste and either grill or pan-fry them. Let aside.
Boil water in a large pan before adding onion, tomatoe and ginger. Add the fish sauce and continue cooking for about 2 minutes. Add the vegetables, starting with the long beans, bitter melon, alukon, moringa fruit and winged beans. Cook for about two minutes before adding the malunggay. Add salt and pepper as needed. During the last 2 minutes of cooking add the fried or grilled fish to add flavor to the stew. Remove from heat and serve warm with steamed rice.