I'm a typical Ilokano who can't live without dinengdeng, come share my passion...
Concoction or variations of this kind of exotic Ilokano dish, of this ever ubiquitous vegetable stew...
What do you prefer, Vigan-sinanglaw or Laoag-paksiw? What about pinapaitan and singkutsar?
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...
Tabtaba, also known as bakbakasi, barbaradio, badbadiok, dodol-dodol, bilbildong, kulatlat, bakatel in different places, is a true delicacy, in that not many know that it's edible and palatable, and some doesn't have the guts to eat it because of the fact that this is actually gathered from the ground it's like the skin of the earth itself. When I was a kid, we used to "harvest" tabtaba in the fields just after the rice were cut and/or threshed when the rice field is somewhat dry, these bounty of the earth lay in the ground abundantly, waiting to be picked.
|Some fortunate times, tabtaba is available in the market, during rice harvest season. This one, in the Don Domingo public market in Tuguegarao City.|
|Barbaradio for sale in the Bambang public market in Nueva Vizcaya.|
But then, as a veggie, rabong can go with almost any other veggies for that exclusively Ilokano-branded dinengdeng or inabraw.
Like, for instance, rabong with kalunay (Amaranthus spinosus) or kalkalunay (Spinacia oleracea) and the tender leaves of sili ti sairo/abuyo (bird's eye chili, Capsicum frutescens), and with bunga ti utong (string beans):
|Kalunay, local spinach.|
|Bulong/uggot ti sili, bird's eye chili.|
|Bunga ti utong, string beans.|
This is somehow true because I myself rarely can find unnok for sale in the wet markets, whereas in the past years it's sold in abundance in regular market days.
And imagine my pleasant surprise when I found this in the Allacapan (Cagayan) market and was told that it came all the way from Laoag City (Ilocos Norte)! The vendor said unnok is almost a thing of the past in Cagayan, it's not readily available anymore as it were, and she's not exaggerating, I guess. I bought the whole remaining lot for fifty pesos:
We made it into a soup with lots of tomatoes and onions, and some bugguong juice to taste. The broth is so savory with a hint of sweet and sour tomato goodness.
|Wild kuditdit growing on a dead tree. Photo from Wikipedia.com|
Kuditdit has also become rare nowadays, and thus it has become a kind of another exotic fare. You can usually find them sold in the market and is quite pricey but nonetheless a best seller as it is a prized companion to a savory dinengdeng/inabraw especially when partnered with wild mushrooms.
|Kuditdit for sale by the glassful.|
When preparing kuditdit, you have to wash/rinse it thoroughly to remove dirt, but don't squeeze it too much and just rinse it once or twice only, to preserve its natural flavor and succulence.
|Kuditdit is great with paria, leaves or fruit, and with other leafy vegetables and veggie fruit like pallang and tarong.|
|Kuditdit with wild mushrooms, kalunay (amaranth, wild spinach) and kabatiti fruit.|
|The soup/broth is so good with the fusion of two wild fungi goodness, sweetened by the young kabatiti!|