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...


tinenneb a buntiek, broiled mudfish sour soup

Tinenneb a buntiek (attasi)
When it comes to food, regionally and hence, culturally, Ilokanos love bitter foods, just as the Tagalog prefer sour ones (the famous sigang or sinigang comes to mind). But of course, we Ilokanos also love sour and sourness. We even have our own concoction and fermentation of vinegar--the famous suka Iloko or sugarcane vinegar which goes with our basi wine making industry (when our old folks make basi, they also make suka, inevitably and not only when a basi fails to ferment into wine but turn sour and instead becomes a fine suka).

And so, the Ilokano, too, has some sour dishes to serve. We have sour/soured soup like the famous paksiw of Ilocos Norte and sinanglaw of Ilocos Sur, boiled beef and innards soured with suka Iloko or with tamarind (young pods and/or the flower and shoots) or with pias (kamias). Sometimes, the Ilokano pinapaitan (way different from the maasim na papaitan of the Tagalogs which is not mapait at all but all asim), bitter as it is, is also mildly moderated with souring agents like suka Iloko or pias and salamagi. And yessir, we love sinigang, too, and we have our own version of it, simply called inalseman.

And then, we have the simpliest of simple tinenneb (also called inalseman or sinalamagian [in our place, we call it nadanuman a tinaltal a salamagi [just plain crushed tamarind with water flavored with salt and a pinch of umami (MSG)] bacause we make it even without the obligatory broiled fish]).

Simple because preparing it is not that complicated. All you need is fish, broiled (although of course, mudfish is most preferred [the smaller or medium-sized ones], and especially the ar-aro fish which by the way is becoming a rare species nowadays; paltat (catfish) is also used, and even tilapia, but the tastiest for this soup dish is buntiek/dalag/attasi and ar-aro).

And of course, young tamarind pods, and optionally, some onions (young ones with leaves would be perfect) for an added zing, and optionally according to preference, chili, for an spicy soup.

And of course, water, hot water (could also be cold water, but it should be hot so that it goes well with the tenneb process to be true to its very name--it's like panagtenneb iti mapanday a buneng, the forging of a blade, the tempering and quenching of the hot metal using water to cool it and thus hardening the blade).

And salt to taste, of course.

You crush the tamarind to render its juice and sourness (do not crush the seeds, though), you flake the broiled fish into pieces. Put these in a bowl and then pour into it hot water. Season with salt. Put in chopped onions. The hot water will "cook" the soup. And it's done!

The soup is heavenly, its sourness is so deliciously insane, all the more enhanced by the fragrance and umami-ness of the broiled fish. Spike it with fresh chilis and help yourself savoring more of this perfect Ilokano sour soup.



dinengdeng/baradibud a kamangeg, samsamping, parda ken kabatiti; wild yam with blue pea, hyacinth bean and sponge gourd

Samsamping, parda ken kabatiti a nabaradibudan iti bagas ti kamangeg.
Yet another rare chance, opportunity, if you will, to find something like these wild bounty of the land right in a local market in the city--yessir, that's the rare wild yam kamangeg (Dioscorea luzonensis), a one of a kind edible tuber that grows wild just in the wild "deeply embedded in hardened soil in forested and mountainous areas" in the Ilocos; and to top it, there's another wild vegetable that yet again just grows wildly: samsamping (Clitoria ternatea Linn; in some areas it is called kalumpagi; blue pea in English).

I always see a yet another delicious starchy dinengdeng called buridibud when I see kamangeg, So this is yet another opportunity to make one, what with the perfect willd veggie fruit of a samsamping to pair it.

Luckily, I also got another so-called "native" Ilokano vegetable fruit: parda (Dolichos lablab Linn; hyacinth bean) which is just so good a pair for my buridibud.

So, there, this parda:

And the samsamping:

I also got the smaller and sweter native kabatiti (sponge gourd; not photographed) as another veggie fruit for that perfect buridibud. Together they will grace my platefuls of steamed rice. But first things first, I boiled some bugguong in a minimal amount of water, with some slices of onions for aroma and flavor. Afterwhich I simmered into the bubbling bugguong mixture the cut kamangeg, let it cook for about 20-30 minutes and then into it the kabatiti, samsamping and parda. Here it is, stewing and becoming thick and starchy:

And here's it, done! The broth is just as rich and thick and so flavorful and deliciously starchy and sweet. The fruit veggies are just cooked right not overcooked, to retain it's gorgeous color and crispness:

A really simple and easy dish but so good and healthy. Just plain dinengdeng/buridibud without sagpaws or add-ons to really savor the veggies and the rare kamangeg. Absolutely amazing Ilokano food!



ginisa a kamatis ken lasona iti bugguong, sautéd tomato and onions in bugguong

Besides having kamatis as a perfect kilawen, that is the Ilokano way, being the "K" in the famous "KBL" or Ilokano's own version of the Mexican salsa, raw kamatis with bugguong and lasona (preferably the small, "native" Ilocos variety ones), well, tomato is also preferred and prepared in various ways, raw or cooked.

One of my favorites being that of the ginisa a kamatis. And of course, and still, together, with its loyal pair: bugguong & lasona. When I say bugguong, I equally consider both nabugguong a lames (salted fish/fish fermented in salt) and nabugguong nga aramang (salted shrimp paste). Fish and shrimp. For bugguong nga aramang (which by the way defines the Tagalog pakbet), it's also perfect for KBLs especially with young lasona with sweet and tender stems and leaves. I usually buy only bugguong-aramang for this purpose, and for my ginisa a kamatis.

Naigisa a kamatis ken lasona, with bugguong nga aramang.

Making this kind of appetizer dish is just so simple and easy. You sauté in oil some garlic and the lasona of course, brown and caramelize it (optionally, you can add some ginger). Then put in the bugguong-aramang (or the bugguong-lames juice if it is so), put in just a little amount of it to moderate saltiness (you can add more later to taste if the saltiness is enough for you). Stir-fry quickly and evenly, the unbearable aroma of its being bugguong will surely be so intimidating, demanding, right now as you stir it up, making you hungrier. Then add the sliced tomatoes. stir quickly and evenly, then simmer a bit. Add a pinch of sugar if you prefer, or some teaspoonfuls of tomato sauce and/or tomato catsup, optionally, to thicken it. Add some cracked peppercorns or spice it with a dash of chili powder. Do not overcook it or it becomes overly soggy and soupy and inconsistently sour. Some prefer it with more broth and add water to cook. I like it with minimal and thick sauce-like broth. Your ginisa a kamatis will be soupy if you don't remove the seeds. Removing of the seeds is optional for you, as varieties of tomatoes vary, some has watery seeds. I remove the seeds as necessary, if it's too watery.

When done, the end result would be as lovely as this:

Absolutely gorgeous! as Jamie Oliver would have to exclaim if he himself have ever tasted, and cooked, this thing of gastronomic beauty:

The fusion of saltiness, sourness, sweetness, great flavor and aroma, is a real bliss and blessing as you consume your steamed rice and main dishes with it.

Another ginisa a kamatis, no young lasonas this time, and it's equally good and delicious:



saluyot & buntiek, soured saluyot stew with grilled mudfish

I usually cook saluyot solo and the usual Ilokano way: napaksiw, napakbet, tinimtiman, inalseman. Whatever you may call it, it's the same: soured, with either plain vinegar or with souring agents such as sour fruits like pias, kalamansi or dalayap juice, green mango, young tamarind (fruit and/or leaves) and even with lubeg fruit. But for me, the best alsem to cure a paksiw a saluyot is the famous suka iloko (sugar cane vinegar) right from the Ilocos.

Here, I made another tinimtiman a saluyot, soured with sugarcane vinegar, and this time, I added a grilled buntiek (small mudfish; also called attasi, and if larger, it's burikaw or just the generic name dalag) to add more flavor for an absolutely gorgeous and delicious pinakbet a saluyot.

Just take a look at it, how amazing this beloved Ilokano dish has become:

These are the blessed buntieks that I grilled. One of them luckily mingled and blended with my pinakbet a saluyot:

Here are just photographs of the heavenly dish I painstakingly created, enough perhaps to titillate your palate. But surely, you folks want to know how it came to be like this, one of the most delicious thing that I happen to cook, from the plainest of all, the lowly saluyot, now made a kind of exotic gourmet dish with that grilled buntiek atop it, basking in its all glorious deliciousness.

I just spiced it with lots of garlic, onions, ginger and of course, bugguong and suka iloko. I let the concoction boil quickly and simmer before adding the saluyot. I also added here leaves and stalks of young sweet onions. I didn't add water, I just let the bugguong and vinegar and the natural moistness of the saluyot leaves form and concoct a wonderful broth. I cooked it in low fire, slowly, so it will not burn underneath (maksetan).

I cooked the saluyot until all is wilted and a kind of slippery, and then I added the natuno a buntiek and let the broth simmer and thicken until almost dry. I made sure there is a broth left to flavor the tinimtiman and the steamed rice thereafter.




solsona gameng festival 2015's exotic food feast

Solsona town in Ilocos Norte has just celebrated its annual Gameng Festival (gameng is treasure) that showcased among other products native food and delicacies which can be labeled kind of "exotic" because of their rarity and/or uniqueness in that particular Ilokano town.

We featured it here in Pinakbet Republic the other year and it's one of the most visited blog. This year, Ilokano journalist and writer Leilanie Adriano has graciously provided us again some mouth-watering photographs of the Ilokano food and dishes exhibited.


Nalingta a native a paltat.

Silalalat a naadobo a tukak.

Naigisa/naikirog a tukak.

Nalingta a bukto.

Naigisa nga itlog ti abuos.

Nadengdeng a bisukol.

Nakilnat/ensalada nga aba.

Ginettaan nga aba.

Napaksiw a daludal (sagibsib) ti aba.

Nakalderata a pato.

Ensalada a pako.

Nadengdeng nga agurong.

Naadobo a tukling.




pinapaitan a kamanokan, "native" chicken bitter soup

To continue on our kamanokan series on native free range chicken Ilokano dishes (lauya, dinardaraan, adobo), we'll conclude here with yet another kind of "exotic" dish that delights most Ilokanos: it's pinapaitan a manok! This is a rather unusual chicken soup and I bet some may frown at the idea or are not aware that, of course, your favorite tasty kamanokan can also have its own pinapaitan; not just the usual pinapaitan that you know (kalding, baka, nuang).

Pinapaitan a kamanokan.

This is part of the chicken giblet set aside for dinardaraan and pinapaitan: cut batikuleng (gizzard), dalem (liver), puso (heart), bara (lungs), some silet or bagis (intestines), and the "bittering agent" which is the apro (bile).

Here's what we're going to turn into an absolutely delicious pinapaitan. I added some strips of meat and skin. And that's the apro in the little red square bowl:

Sauté it in little cooking oil with lots of bawang, lasona and the laya, season with salt or patis and pepper; stir fry it until it oozes its yellowish own fat and the meat and skin and the rest of the giblet turn brown:

Pour in enough water for your soup, simmer for a few minutes and then add the apro. Don't put in all of the bile though, moderate bitterness by having a taste of the soup. Put in more bile if you prefer a really bitter pinapaitan. Put off fire and serve it hot and steaming. The resulting soup will be like this:

The kamanokan broth will turn more yellow with the apro, more golden, which is just so absolutely gorgeous and insanely delicious bitter soup so tasty and savory:

Optionally, if you're a really pinapaitan connoisseur, you can add more pait into your pinapaitan by adding paria leaves (a tinola with paria leaves or fruit is great as well).


More about kamanokan (native free range chicken):


nadigo a dinardaraan a kamanokan, "native" chicken blood stew/soup

[Warning: Images of chicken giblet/entrails and blood may be disturbing and/or unsavory to some. Please view with discretion.]

We were done with the adobo and the lauya, and here with the specially set aside ingredients from the kamanokan we butchered, we're going to cook another authentic and unique Ilokano dish made out of a kamanokan: dinardaraan!

A chicken dinardaraan is not a common dish in that mostly, a chicken is usually intended to be cooked into a tinola or lauya, adobo, grilled/barbecued, or with curry or coconut milk. And for Ilokanos, the chicken blood is a delicious add-on in a lauya, coagulated with glutinous rice, it enhances the flavor of the broth. And the more usual way to prepare a chicken dinardaraan (also called sapsapuriket) is to cook it dry, not soupy, with lots of chili and garlic and black peppers, hot and spicy, intended as a special pulotan.

But here, I am about to cook a nadigo (soupy) a dinadaraan, simply because I just want to enjoy its savory soup, and so that I have a plenty of dinardaraan to enjoy (a dry dinardaraan with  the giblet of only one chicken is just a handful but having it as a soup is filling enough).
Nadigo a dinardaraan a kamanokan.

This is chicken giblet I prepared for the dinardaraan: batikuleng (gizzard), dalem (liver), puso (heart), bara (lungs), some silet or bagis (intestines). I also included the chicken's ukel-ukel (testicles, this is a kawitan, a rooster) to add more "nanam" to the dish:

And of course, the dara (blood). I added a little vinegar into it to prevent coagulation and for an added bit of sourness later into the dinardaraan:

Cut the giblet into small pieces; set aside the apro and the ukel-ukel. Prepare the laya, lasona and bawang:

And here, it's ready...

Sauté the bawang, lasona and the laya until brown/caramelized:

Add the cut chicken giblet and stir fry it quickly in high heat. Add salt or patis (or bugguong if you prefer) to taste (and optionally, umami or those ginisa flavoring mixes). Add cracked black peppers, too, of course:

Don't overcook the chicken, taste it to see if it's partially done. Pour in the blood at this juncture:

Stir fry it and mix the blood evenly:

Add some water and simmer. Add some little vinegar if you prefer a sour soup. In this particular dinardaraan, it's somewhat sour because of the vinegar I added into the blood to prevent coagulation:

And it's done. And oh, by the way, I added sili nga aruy-oy (capsicum annuum, siling haba, finger chili) to make this dinardaraan a traditional one with sili:

The soup is so delicious, specially so when I mashed the boiled chicken testicles into the broth it resembled the tasty and sensuous "soup no. 5" (bull's penis and testicle soup):

Spice it more with chili powder or cayenne pepper or with chili fermented in vinegar for that amazing kick!


More about kamanokan: