dinengdeng, glorious dinengdeng!

I'm a typical Ilokano who can't live without dinengdeng, come share my passion...

various authentic, exotic, ilokano pinakbets

Concoction or variations of this kind of exotic Ilokano dish, of this ever ubiquitous vegetable stew...

sinanglaw? paksiw? which?

What do you prefer, Vigan-sinanglaw or Laoag-paksiw? What about pinapaitan and singkutsar?

unnok/ginukan, freshwater shellfish

Want some unnok soup or ginukan bugguong?

baradibud a tugi, lesser yam vegetable stew

Tugi, for some, is only meant to be boiled and eaten simply as is. But for me, it's an indispensable ingredient for yet another hearty Ilokano dish...


eel soured with palali (catmon) fruit

Igat (eel, palos) is unusually abundant these days in Cagayan Valley (Region 2, Philippines), what with a reported one ton daily export to countries who relish this rather slimy but very tasty fish, especially the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans. And these are eels gathered in the rice paddies in the region, mostly growing wild. A kind of small eel called kiwet is even considered now as a pest in the ricefields in the valley, especially in Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela, because this eel burrow and bore in the soil, making holes and thus draining the rice paddies. Farmers gather it as a delicacy though and one of the preferred way of cooking it is deep frying it in oil to make it crispy and crunchy.

Some do not like eels because of its distinct sliminess and overwhelming langsi or lang-es (fishy stench, lansa). But proper cleaning and cooking can rid these and turn it into a very tasty fish dish, like adobo, paksiw, even sinigang (sour soup). It can also simply be grilled. And it’s perfect for  tapa or daing (sun-dried, salted or smoked).

Eel adobo soured with palali fruit.

One Sunday morning, I saw these gorgeous eels for sale along the highway in Iguig, Cagayan. Live eels in various sizes still wriggling. I was told these were caught in the nearby Cagayan River, unusually larger than the known kiwet variety that thrives in the rice fields (but I was later informed that this is the same kiwet, anyway). I bought one stringful of three eels for PhP100. I like to think it’s a bargain. These are kind of exotic fish and is prized by some gourmands who claim it’s an aphrodisiac food and therefore insanely expensive in some countries:

I cut and cleaned the eels, repeatedly rinsed it in water to get rid of the slime and draining all its blood thoroughly (kiwet it really is because of its unusual sliminess!):

I intend to cook it into an adobo, dry and a bit salty stew which is just apt for the firm texture of this fish. I decided not to use vinegar as a souring agent and instead opted to use palali (catmon) fruit:

I cooked my adobo nga igat in slow fire for all the flavors and spices (soy sauce, garlic, black peppercorn) and sourness to seep in. As it cooks, the fish will literally ooze its fat:

Simmered into a dry, palali-soured adobo, the igat is here rendered phenomenally tasty and delicious, I say that the the palali fruit as a souring agent further removed the fishy smell than a vinegar can, adding more flavor into the delicate but firm eel flesh:




pinapaitan a kalding, goat intestines stew

This is goat intestine stewed, literally, with its own juice--the extract of the masticated grass inside the intestines. It's a savory, bitter soup favored by Ilokanos. And goat's is prized for this kind of exotic dish, called "pinapaitan", aside from that of beef or carabao (water buffalo). It's not really an exotic one as this is so common in the Philippines especially in the Ilocos region, or where the Ilokano people have settled for good.

Cooking this kind of exotic dish (well, a delicacy of some sort) is simple as doing the usual pinapaitan. Just boil it. Until tender enough. Spice it with lots of onions, garlic, ginger, black pepper. Add some meat and liver pieces. Optionally, you can add a little sourness like that of pias or salamagi.

Now here's the boiled and tenderized whole intestine being cut into bite pieces:



More pinapaitan and kalding tales:


dinengdeng nga uong ken kabatiti ken balang a paria, straw mushrooms soup with patola and wild bittermelon

Mushrooms, mushrooms! And what’s more delicious than those growing and picked from the wild, like these gorgeous straw mushrooms (locally called uong garami or uong saba):

And paired with these equally wild or “native” vegetables for a truly exotic veggie delicacy—wild bittermelon (balang a paria) shoots and fruit, and patola (sponge gourd, kabatiti):

Small but insanely bitter vegetable fruit to challenge or tantalize your palate:

Cooked in the traditional Ilokano dinengdeng way, here’s the eventual result—all that mushroom flavor with the double dose of exotic wild paria bittery goodness and sweetened by the native kabatiti, all in fusion with the essence of bugguong (fish paste/sauce). And no, if you cooked it right and rightful, the kabatiti will not make it the more bitter but its sweetness as fruit veggie will magically moderate the pait of the paria. The end result is just so amazing and a beauty to behold:


See more mushroom treats and recipes:

  • Uong ken lantong-utong, wild mushroom with young bean stalks/shoots
  • Dinengdeng nga uong-mais ken uggot-marunggay, wild mushrooms and marunggay leaves
  • Dinengdeng nga uong-bunton ken balang a paria, wild mushroom soup with bitter melon leaves

  • 1/19/2019

    mongo beans soup with rattan bud/shoot

    Boiled balatong (mongo, mung beans), sautéed with lots of onions and garlic, is one stable Filipino viand especially preferred during rainy and cold days. Paired with a variety of other vegetables (specially green leafy veggies) and meat and fish sagpaws (add-on), it’s one appetizing dish to go with steamed rice. A favorite companion vegetable is usually the leaves or fruit of paria (amargoso, ampalaya, bitter melon) as the bitterness of it is just a perfect flavor of the exotic kind to blend with the starchy balatong.

    And speaking of exotic bitterness, here’s a bunch of ubog ti way (rattan bud/shoot) to offer just that bitterness:

    Peeling of the stalks of the shoots:

    And there’s the boiled balatong ready:

    The ubog now cut and ready:

    The sautéed balatong now being boiled with the ubog ti way:

    And it’s done, here’s one bean soup with a touch of exoticness, bitter but so delicious and comforting:

    See more ubog recipes:


    kilawen a kalding, goat skin, meat, and liver "salad"

    This is "kilawen a kalding" ("kilawing kambing" in Tagalog) or goat's singed/burnt skin and grilled meat and liver chopped and spiced and made into a kind of "salad." An Ilokano dish, it is kind of "exotic" to others but is a popular goat dish throughout the Philippines. What's distinctly Ilokano about it is that Ilokano folks, used to bitterness, err, bitter food, usually season it with the goat's bile or the pespes (extract of the undigested grass) itself.

    Let's take a look at the mystery of this authentic Ilokano delicacy... Here's the goat's skin/hide, its hair singed, cleaned, this is slightly boiled to tenderize the hide:

    And this is the meat and the liver, slightly grilled and so it's succulent and sweet:

    Chopping time!

    Chopped goat goodies:

    And spiced with onions, ginger, salt, some vinegar (calamansi juice is more preferred), chili if you prefer it really spicy, and pour in some bile or pespes and thoroughly mix the whole lot and it's ready. This is the best for pulutan or finger food for drinks!

    Related dish:



    dinengdeng a bunga ken uggot ti karabasa, squash fruit and shoots stew

    As a kid and a farm boy, one of the vegetables I love that much is karabasa (squash) mainly because my mother used to tell us her children that squash fruit is actually an "itlog ti nuang" or a carabao's egg, so nutritious and full of vitamins and minerals and whatever healthy stuff growing barrio kids need, aside from the "fact" that it really is good for the eye, for it to see more clearly, so my mother said so. We always have a squash plant with its vine freely creeping on and/or climbing up at our backyard vegetable garden, or in corners of the farm where rotting rice straws are kept (rice straw compost is an excellent organic fertilizer so you can imagine how lush and thriving the squash planted in it).

    Karabasa is so versatile a vegetable in that its main parts are all edible and great for dinengdeng. Besides the fruit, its blossoms are prized as well as its shoots. And what I love most of it is that the three parts can become a very delicious dinengdeng combination, all in one or with other leafy greens.

    Going home in Casantolan, my place of birth and boyhood, I foraged the vegetable patches in our yard and came upon karabasa crawlers amongst sweet potato vines and in between saluyot shrubs. No full grown blossoms yet at the time so I just picked one young fruit and succulent shoots, and gathered some saluyot, too, and some alukon shoots growing from an alukon stump amidst the shrubberies. I salivated at the idea how gorgeous my dinengdeng would be!

    See how lovely are these squash shoots? How so inviting is the young fruit? It's young as in young, still developing, immature, not yet ripe, which is just what's actually best and perfect for dinengdeng, you know!

    Now, the veggies are ready, naimurianen! No, sir, I didn't peel the skin off the young karabasa. At this stage of development, the skin is yet that soft and so very much edible, and palatable, I promise you! It will all goes well with the greens.

    See how stunning the prepared veggies are?

    This karabasa is one of the variety which is nakilnet (thick or somewhat glutinous) and not nagares (mushy or soggy) so even at this level of maturity, it manifests its being nakilnet, and so even at its raw stage, at a glance, surely, you'll find it kind of irresistible,!

    And now the panagdengdeng, the panagbugguong process... Let's skip the details here, yet again, because this is just plain and simple dinengdeng as was usual. But one thing, put the karabasa fruit in first and boil for some time before the saluyot, alukon, and the karabasa shoots. The fruit cooks longer than the leaves, we dont' want an overcooked dinengdeng here especially of overdone greens. See to it that the karabasa shoots are done kind of crispy but succulent. I added onion and few slices of tomato for some aroma and flavor.

    And here it is! See how arresting, how captivating this dinengdeng is?

    A closer look, you can see the karabasa skin intact and it's delicious:

    One more look and you're hungrier, I guess:


    More dinengdengs: