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...


pinakbet ala-casantolan

This is the way we (well, me, actually, and if I say "we", my late mother would be a very special and a most honorable mention here because it was her who influenced me, and virtually taught me, all things about pinakbets, dinengdengs, and anything nateng) cook the great Ilokano signature dish pinakebbet, or more popularly known as pinakbet, (not the non-Ilokano [because grammatically incorrect]  Tagalogized "pakbet") in Casantolan (Nueva Vizcaya), my place of birth and early domicile, and my place of longing to be settled at again, to get back in and to return to, well, soon.

And, this is the way I cook pinakbet whenever I am in Casantolan--what with the ready ingredients available and with the cooking wares and familiar cooking traditions I was used to as a barrio boy (again, all thanks, I owe it to my mother).

On one of my random visit, I came upon these available veggies ready at home, bought at the market in Bambang and some picked right in the backyard garden: paria, tarong, okra, bunga ti singkamas, kamatis. 

I began preparing the veggies. I am happy that I chanced upon this rather rare opportunity to have these smallish native bitter melons and this variety of eggplant which is just so good for this Ilokano signature dish, the small okras, and yes, the jicama fruit.

Of course, the tomatoes. And onion and ginger. The onions are chopped, the ginger is crushed for it to give its maximum zing.

For a while, I remember something that will make my pinakbet more gorgeous and delicious. I went by the shrubberies and climbing vines and gathered some patani (also called "pulomingko") pods. These are a very good companion to an Ilokano pinakbet, I promise!

This is how I cut the tarongs. And here they are in the cooking pot. Level by level. And drenched atop with bugguong "juice". I didn't put any water. The veggies' own juices, and the bugguong's, will suffice. It will "agdanum" later as the kamatis will give all its essence to "pakbet" its veggie friends.  

And yes, this pinakbet has to be pure as in just vegetables and no sagpaws or add-ons of any kind. No meat, no fish. Nothing. Just nateng.

The singkamas will be put on top as it cooks faster. I want it crispier.

And here, I cooked it just the way a good pinakbet should be cooked--using firewood on a DIY iron stove in a makeshift "dirty kitchen" outside the house.

Note that this is the available cooking ware around, I would have slow cooked my pinakbet in an earthen pot if there's any.

And here it is, it's done:

Look at that:

Just take a look and imagine:

Isn't it an absolutely gorgeous pinakbet? Wanna bet?

Yes, this is how we, how I do, in Casantolan, with matters like pinakbet:


And more:

Okey, enough. Let's eat. Here's my labay, come and partake:


kilawen a babassit a talibukno

This is fresh and raw fish prepared as a "salad" or kilawen. This particular fish is called talibukno (variably identified scientifically as Leiognathus ruconiusGazza minuta, and others) and fished from Claveria, Cagayan, best as a kilawen at this size of growth, small ones and bite size so you can consume all of it, head and intestines, bones--perfect for a kilawen nga ikan just like that of the munamon/taburkit, or padas, or tirong.

A bounty fresh from the sea:

A kilogram of talibukno for the kilawen:

The preparation. Ginger and onions are a must. And salt, of course.

And a freshly squeezed calamansi juice as a souring agent with a zing (vinegar not recommended):

Mince them finely and mix:

And here it is. It invites you yo bring out your drinks as this is best for pulotan: What's missing here is, of course, sili ti sairo to make this a sure spicy hot kilawen.



More kilawen nga ikan:

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dinengdeng nga uong, papait, kabatiti, patani, nasagpawan iti kaluit (kumukusay)

This particular dinengdeng might somewhat be a weird for some, but this is it, I've done it, just so to prove/show the versatility of the dinengdeng or an Ilokano way of preparing and presenting and designing available vegetables and pair or combine it with almost everything edible, palatable, tasty, easy.

And here's a dinengdeng with a shellfish called kaluit or kalwit (also called sikadsikad, maninikad, aninikad, kumukusay). This is the plicate conch (scientific name: Strombus labiatus) which is abundant along reef coastlines. Its shell is kind of hard and its "meat" wedged deep spirally inside its whorl and spire you have to use a "pick" like that of a pomelo thorn to gouge it out. Some just resort to cracking the shell and simply gather the meat and cook it in a savory soup. But like agurong, suso, leddeg, bisukol, picking/extracting out (sultop or tudok) the meat is a thing to enjoy. Cooking this shellfish is simply boiling it with the usual tomatoes, ginger, onions, lemon grass like that of the usual freshwater clams and mollusk.

But here, it graced my dinengdeng of uong (those are straw mushroom buttons), papait, patani, and kabatiti (what an unusual bunch!):

What a mix! The broth is so tasty, it brings forth the aroma of the sea, the reefs, the seaweeds, and the dinengdeng is heavenly, as it were, as  the kaluit essence is enhanced by the umami of the straw mushroom, the sweetness of the kabatiti, the starchiness of the patani, and the inevitable bittersweetness of the papait.

My rice, please!


More dinengdengs:

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pinakbet a nakaparparia

What makes an Ilokano pinakbet or a pinakbet preferred by Ilokanos is that it is ,and it should be with, and not just with, but full of, paria or bitter melon. Because the Ilokano is known by its food preference for pait or bitterness, the more a pinakbet has paria, the more it is a sumptuous and delightful feast of bitterness and saltiness (of the preferred condiment bugguong--salt-fermented fish and not shrimps, of course!).

I always like my pinakbet to be nakaparparia, nakapapait, full of this beloved Ilokano veggie fruit--the native and wild variety is a must, too, for more bitterness to be rendered, endured, and enjoyed.

This is my recent pinakbet a nakaparparia, as a proof of pinakbet concept and life, the patneng nga Ilokano way:

And here are the ingredients from which I designed this perfect, well, almost, vanity pinakbet:

These are freshly picked/harvested bitter goodies from my container garden. Ilocos species of a paria kind, not the native one, though, but a hybrid of sort.

Some of the obligatory and faithful paria company for a pinakbet: kamatis, tarong, okra, and utong. Sili is not available at the time. And of course no karabasa here ever as it's a no-no for an Ilokano pinakbet to have a karabasa (only Tagalog 'pakbet' variations, with an awkward shrimp paste, has it)

This is it, once again, the by-product:

And this here is my own labay, pardon my gluttony, but this is pinakbet with lots of paria, so, let me just indulge:

And pardon, this is me not bragging about an Ilokano gourmet food but me inviting you to "mangantayon, apo, pagan-anusan ti adda!" let's eat, folks!


More, about pinakbet:

For more Ilokano vegetable dishes, you can 
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dinengdeng a nasagpawan iti kappo (tahong)

Dinengdeng! Also known as inabraw. The staple dish of the Ilokanos to go with innapuy or steamed rice. A medley of vegetables, preferably green leafy veggies, boiled or blanched in bugguong (fish sauce/paste) broth. With or without a sagpaw (an add on of either fish or meat, grilled, fried, or dried).

Or with shellfish. Like kaggo (big brackish water clam). Or tahong (kappo, mussel).

Oh, this is a really different dinengdeng, a first time that I tried to add tahong in it:

Here, our beloved dinengdeng will comprise saluyot, squash flowers, and kabatiti (sponge gourd):

The veggies are ready:

Boil the bugguong essence in a minimal water, put in the kabatiti first, simmer, then put in the saluyot and squash flowers, steam briefly then put the mussels atop and steam quickly to cook:

And here’s it, my unusual dinengdeng, well, kind of. The tahong’s unique flavor and scent fused with the bugguong’s inherent aroma and the natural sweetness of the fresh veggies made this one dinengdeng phenomenal. And see, it’s gorgeous even, a colorful blend :

More dinengdengs:

For more Ilokano vegetable dishes, you can follow Ilokano Food page on Facebook and enjoy more sumptuous photos of dinengdeng and other vegetable dishes plus more veggies

Follow also Ilokano Food @ Instagram and subscribe to Ilokano Food YoutTube channel for more photos, videos, and stories about Ilokano food, cooking, cuisine, and culture.