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...


the "other" seaweeds: kulot & aragan

Talking about edible and palatable seaweed, especially among Ilokanos, and Pinoys in general, the more popular fare are the pokpoklo (or pukpuklo, Codium) and the ar-arosip (lato, Caulerpa lentillifera). But there are more, like the famous gamet (Porphyra crispata, nori) which is highly prized and priced in its dried state. Also the equally popular guraman (Gracillaria verrucosa, also called "ur-urmot" because of its supposed resemblance to you-know-what, ugh!).

And there's the kulot (Gelidiella acerosa):

And the aragan (also panpan-aw, kelp, Laminaria):

These two make perfect seaweed salad with sliced tomatoes and onions, a dash of salt or a dressing of bugguong.

Preparing these seaweeds for salad is a little tricky, unlike that of pokpoklo or ar-arosip which you can consume fresh as is. Kulot and aragan are tough and it needed a quick blanch of boiling water to soften them. You put the seaweed into a bowl and pour hot water on it for a quick hot bath. Do not "overcook" it, drain immediately when you see the weeds are kind of wilted and soft. The "secret" of subtly softening the rough and tough texture of the weed is to add in some vinegar just before scalding it.

The end result is a thing of beauty and delight:

This is one great appetizer!


sinanglaw? paksiw? which? sinanglaw-vigan & paksiw-laoag

Sinanglaw? Pinapaitan? Paksiw? Singkutsar? Confusing, really. What's what and which is which? I have the same ordeal identifying or proving what's a real beef sinanglaw and that of beef paksiw (and why it's called paksiw, in the first place). It's kind of complicated, you see. Especially for a non-Ilocos (Norte/Sur) resident like me. I only know by heart pinapaitan because this is what I was introduced, and used, to as an Ilokano in Cagayan Valley (born and raised in Nueva Vizcaya with Ilokano forbears coming from Pangasinan and La Union [migrants], and now residing in the Province of Cagayan). So I begged some Ilocos writer-friends to educate me of/on their exotic delicacies...

Sinanglaw is almost exclusively Ilocos Sur, actually the pride of Vigan City itself. You can find a lot of sinanglawan in almost every Vigan nook and cranny.

While sinanglaw is also available in some eateries in some towns in Ilocos Norte, paksiw is the more, if not the most, popular, especially in Laoag City and in San Nicolas town. Sometimes sinanglaw and paksiw are misnomered in these parts in that if a stranger orders a "sinanglaw" he will be served with a paksiw instead, if not pinapaitan, or singkutsar. (Although when you mention pinapaitan in these parts, it is almost exclusively known only as in pinapaitan a kalding [goat], because goat is the real thing when it comes to pinapaitan, well, for some.)

But these Ilokano beef soup goodies are not really at odds with each other, because they share a lot in common, or have similar ingredients, they only differ in the preparation and of the way they are flavored, and favored, of course. Basically, they've got beef innards/entrails or offal in them, plus the most prized meat cut which is the lomo (tender loin), and the papait or pespes (the bitter "juice" of the partially digested grass in the intestines, also called chyme). Sinanglaw, by the way, is authenticated by the presence of boiled/softened beef skin/hide, or of parts from beef hocks and knuckles.

And so here is Ilocos Norte paksiw:

This is actually what the folks called "nadiguan a paksiw" (or perhaps "naidigo a paksiw"?) because it's paksiw soup poured over a bowl of raw or rare beef tender loin slices. It has none of the innards. The real "paksiw" here is the soup only as it came from the paksiw consisting of boiled intestines, liver, heart, pancreas and tripe, and soured with Ilocos vinegar (cane vinegar, "sukang iloko"), and mildly flavored with pespes

From what I gathered, paksiw in Ilocos Norte (not the "nadiguan" above)--correct me if I'm wrong ,or wronged--is also singkutsar or sinangkutsar (more on and about singkutsar in future blog posts; I have yet to interview some singkutsar afficionados, heh-heh!). And paksiw is called paksiw because of the souring agent diluted in it, as compared to the purely bitter pinapaitan. Yes, it's primarily because of its sourness, of the suka, of course, as paksiw means "cooked with/in vinegar."

And here's the blessed sinanglaw of Ilocos Sur:

This is uncut lump of beef loin (unfortunately this looks like a tough meat, maybe not boiled enough, this is from a sinanglawan besides or across the cathedral), you are given a knife to cut it into your desired bite pieces, or have the vendor cut it out for you. Along with the meat are skin/hide, coagulated blood, some bits of liver and heart, and lungs/pancreas, some tripes. A hint of sourness is there, courtesy of pias (kamias). You can opt to make it more sour and spicy by adding in vinegar with fermented chili.

Here, the sinanglaw, with partner "condiments": the pespes (conveniently bottled), naartem a sili (chili fermented in vinegar), and chopped white onions.

Sinanglaw, now with the meat sliced and with the pespes.

Spiced and "embittered" the sinanglaw is ready.

And here's another sinanglaw from another sinanglawan:

This one is more hearty and bountiful than the other,  at a sinanglawan located right at the second floor of the Vigan public market, as my source have ventured into. "Hearty" because the meat is literally all beef heart, served one piece (a sizable part of the cow's heart boiled just tender enough to be chewy but so subtly soft to chew) and then cut into bite-size by the "server" for you. Plus some liver pieces, some tripe, some skin, and chunks of coagulated beef blood. And those pias slices that sour it all to a truly unique sinanglaw perfection.

And of course, that obligatory pespes to give the soup its true Ilokano flavor and distinct sinanglaw aroma.

You can opt to spice it with fermented chili, or put in more sourness with that sukang iloko to perk up your gastronomic sense and level up some other senses. :-)



various authentic, exotic, ilokano pinakbets

More on and about pinakbet, this time, I'll show/present/feature various concoction or variations, most of it I cooked myself, trying-hard to be an authentic ilokano-pinakbet creator, utilizing the Ilokano-ness in me, my ever finicky Ilokano taste (literally, that is) to produce what's I think is real and kind of exotic Ilokano dish, of this ever ubiquitous vegetable stew.

This is basic pinakbet with the basic ingredient there is: paria, tarong, kamatis, sili, okra, and no more. I even have two different tarongs here, both "native" ones: small rounded ones and "slim" elongated ones, which are the perfect, or even required, eggplants for pakbet. My paria is also the round ones, natively grown (not hybrid), so-called Ilocos ampalaya. 

Pinakbet with young garlic roots and leaves. This is a truly Ilocos pinakbet because of the presence of the young garlic (naganus a bawang). But I cooked this one (me, here in Cagayan), of course, having had the opportunity to be blessed with young garlic bundles being peddled on the talipapas along the highway in Nassiping, Gattaran town (in Cagayan; the vendors said it came right from Ilocos Norte). Naganus a bawang itself is made into a unique pinakbet a naganus a bawang, young root/bulb and leaves. In this particular pinakbet, I didn't cut the eggplant's pamurosan (stalk) because these are fruit so young and tender, almost busel (buds), and the tender stalk is edible as well. I just removed the hard sinewy part inside. Mind you, you can only find a tarong prepared that way in an Ilokano pinakbet or dinengdeng.

Very basic pinakbet cooked by my mother. Not sautéed, ever. And it has no sagpaw or parabaw (add-on/topping, fish or meat). With lots of tomatoes and ginger that almost fermented the veggies. You can see it has some pallang (winged bean). 

One the most palatable, most delicious pinakbet I've ever encountered, prepared and cooked by the folks of Currimao town in Ilocos Norte. It has generous amounts of kardis and patani beans in it that greatly enhanced its aroma and flavor. Plus native parda and tiny sweet peppers. And utong (string beans). Its thick broth is a delightful fusion of sweetness, sourness, bitterness and moderated bugguong saltiness only a genuine Ilokano cook can manufacture :-)

Pinakbet I made spicier with a dash of cracked peppercorns, and with lots of crushed ginger.

This one is a bit oily because I added a sizeable chunk of lechon kawali (imagining its the adorable bagnet/chicharon, hehe!)

I added bagas ti kamote (sweet potato/camote roots, also called kaong in some parts of Ilocos Norte) here in lieu of the karabasa (squash fruit preferred and popularized by Tagalog in their variant of pakbet). I used the native round tarong here, similar to balballosa (wild round eggplant). I topped it with fried tilapia fish. 

And this is my pinakbet with young marunggay pods/fruit (also called drumsticks), pallang and bagas ti kamote.

This is a pinakbet by Roger D. Ancheta of Camiling, Tarlac. Besides marunggay pods, it has the young singkamas (jicama) pods! Bunga ti singkamas is a favorite veggie of mine, I'm always craving for it nowadays that it has become a rarity. It's perfect for dinengdeng, solo or with pallang pods or with sabunganay (susop, banana blossoms), and soured with salamagi (tamarind) fruit, topped with broiled attasi (dalag, mudfish) or paltat (catfish). 


buridibod yet again: camote, petchay and alukon

This is yet another buridibod variation.We have previously featured our buribod with alukon floweretters and marunggay leaves and buridibod with marunggay pods. Here's one with alukon still and with "baby" petchays (young and small petchay). The basic ingredient here is the camote root. Buridibod is buridibod as long as it has the main ingredient, which is root crop, be it camote, or other root crops like taro, yam, and other starchy edible root.

As with the others, my buridibod this time is cooked with the camotes at the base of the lot, it is put in first after the bugguong is diluted in the boiling water, simmered sometime to cook it (the camote), and then the alukon and the petchay.

Do not overcook the alukon and the petchay. Put off fire and serve immediately while crisp and green, with the sweet starchy broth steaming.


atap/balang a paria (wild bitter-melons)

Ilokanos are known and are famously distinct to be bitter-loving peoples in these northern parts of the Philippine archipelago, in terms of food geography (as Tagalogs south down under favor sourness in their sinigang or paksiw, or the Bicolanos in their coconut milk-sweetened and chili-spiced Bicol Express). And true-blue Ilokano pait connoisseurs love the most bitter in their food, the bitter, the better, so to say. As to veggies, they want their own Ilocos paria or native amargoso, smallish and round, especially in their beloved pinakbet.

And for the more pait extremist, he is familiar and most enamored to the balang a paria of paria ti bakir, a wild  variety of the common paria which grows in forested areas or mountain sides specially during rainy months.