Sunday, October 30, 2011

How to Cook Pinakbet: Ilocano Style Filipino Food


Pinakbet is one of the special dishes by the Ilocano Filipinos. Ilocanos are usually vegetarians and have simple but delectable dishes cooked to perfection. This is how an Ilocano pinakbet or pakbet is cooked.

Ingredients of Ilocano pinakbet
4 pcs of eggplant
1 pc bitter melon (ampalaya)
1 small bundle of string beans
½ pc yellow squash
6 pcs okra fruit
3 pcs tomatoes
1 bulb of onion
Salt

Steps in cooking Ilocano pinakbet

Step #1 – Wash all ingredients carefully in clean tap water.
Step #2 – Slice all ingredients approximately 1 inch cubes for the eggplant, squash, bitter melon, and okra. For the string beans cut them into two inch-lengths. The tomatoes and onion should be sliced in thin strips.
Step #3 – Boil 1 small cup of water in a clean pot/container.
Step #4 – When the water boils, add fish anchovy (bagoong), by putting a small amount in a bowl and then adding water to extract the flavor. You can crush the bits of small fishes to extract the scrumptious juice. Do not include the small fishes with your pakbet, but only the extract.
Step #5 – Let it boil again, and then add all the ingredients, with the string beans first followed by the bitter melon, the squash, the okra and lastly the tomatoes and the onions. Do not mix; just put them on top of the other by spreading evenly, after each addition. Hence, the onions and tomatoes should be spread at the top of your pinakbet dish.
Step #6 – Cover and let it simmer, until the water has been reduced to half.
Step #7 – You can then mix by holding the cover tight and mix it by moving the pot/pan sideways and up and down, at least thrice. Do not use a ladle or spoon. The pinakbet’s veggies would be crushed.
Step #8 – Taste and add salt if necessary. You are now ready to serve.

Pointers in cooking Ilocano pinakbet

· Simmer as soon as the water boils so that the veggies will be able to absorb each other’s flavors sufficiently.
· You can cook it until very tender as long as it is with a low flame and without mixing repeatedly but only once (and without a ladle), so that the flavor will come out more. Half cooked vegies are not as delicious as that which is cooked sufficiently.
· Do not place too much broth, it is an altogether different dish when you do so, which is “Dinengdeng”, and this is usually with a fish or shrimp as toppings. Pakbet is better when cooked with a smaller volume of water.

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