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...


langka/jackfruit and pallang/winged bean dinengdeng

Langka (or anangka; jackfruit) is one of my favorite fruits, not just when it's ripe but most especially when the fruit is yet young and tender which is usually used/prepared as a "vegetable." Young jackfruit as a vegetable is not exclusively Ilokano as it is prepared and cooked in a variety of ways in the Philippines. Bicolanos love to cook it in coconut milk and chilis just like Bicol Express. In the Visayas, it is boiled with pork hocks or knuckles and kardis (kadios, pigeon pea). And it's great with sinigang be it meat (pork, beef) or fish. Ilokanos add it in their pinablad (boiled balatong, utong, pusi and other dried beans). It's also simply sautéed in oil with pork or chicken. And of course, as a dinengdeng with (or without) other veggies. I also love boiled langka as a salad, with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona). I particularly prefer a solo dinengdeng a langka, stewed dry in bugguong and with kamatis (tamatis, tomato). I also stew it with young salamagi (tamarind) fruit whenever available.

One vegetable I love to pair with langka is pallang (winged bean). They'll be a great combination for a dinengdeng especially when lightly soured with kamatis or salamagi. Pallang as a solo dinengdeng soured with salamagi is also a favorite.

A "native" pallang.
Another variety (hybrid) of pallang called "puraw a pallang" ("white pallang")

And here's my dinengdeng a langka ken pallang. I cooked it somewhat dry with just a little but very tasty and delicious broth. The immature seeds of langka is sweet (the mature seed of the ripe fruit, meanwhile, is also edible and makes a great merienda when boiled, it tastes nutty like peanut):

Great with steamed rice suffused with a little cooking/palm oil!


marunggay salad express

The leaves of the marunggay (moringa oleifera) or marunggi, as Ilokanos fondly call it, can be prepared in a variety of ways. Foremost, it is a basic, even vital, ingredient in the inabraw or dinengdeng potpourri of veggie leafy greens, shoots and tops and pods and fruits.

Or, as a solo marunggi broth perfect for a nutritious igup or labay.

I love it also as a leafy topping in my instant pancit mami.

It is also inevitable as a leafy mix in sauteed pinablad (boiled) a balatong (mung beans) and other dried beans/legumes or any other pusi like kardis, patani or parda. It's also a preferred garnishing in tinola a manok if sili or paria leaves are scarce.



And of course, as a salad or kinilnat as simple as itself, slightly boiled or blanched and dipped in bugguong with some tomato slices or a perres (squeeze) of calamansi. Or dressed, drenched with bugguong.

I love marunggi salad and I want it fast, quick, express that my fancy way of blanching it is that I just dip it whole, stalks with leaves intact, in a boiling water for a minute or two, season it, garnish it, and then enjoy it, as it is, again, with the stalks serving as a convenient "stick" to to hold it to your eager mouth, and consume the sumptous leaves right away with your steamed rice.


Ahh, the simplicity, the versatility and the Ilocano frugality of it all... What a gastronomic bliss!


(Originally blogged June 30, 2009)


parda salad

Parda (dolichos lablab; bataw in Tagalog) is unmistakably GI--genuinely Ilokano veggie prominent in Ilocos cuisine, at least, and but specially among simple Ilokano dishes and viands of the almost vegan kind. Parda is versatile in that the young pods of it can go with your usual dinengdeng of green leafy veggies. Its young and/or not so mature beans is also edible and it is as palatable and as promising as patani (lima beans), kardis or pusi, utong, balatong, etc.

(Photograph above is our parda plant in my place in Dupax del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya.)

For me, aside from the main parda courses, when I want a quick fix of it, I simply blanch/boil it in a few minutes and make it into a parda salad with the inevitable tomato slices and bugguong (and some young onions, to complete the KBL). Just don't overboil it, a blanch is all that you need to assure you of its crispness and sweetness. Parda salad is most delicious and effective--like most veggies intended for ensalada/kinilnat/linayet--if it's freshly picked. So if you have a parda plant right where you are, set some water to boil  first, then go pick parda in the vine, muri it, then blanch it immediately when the water is bubbling, enjoy the ensalada. But freshly picked ones are also abundant in the local markets if you're that early.

Goes best with steaming rice and some oil (vegetable, palm of cooking oil) for labay.

(Originaly blogged January 24, 2010)


dinengdeng, glorious dinengdeng!

Dinengdeng (also inabraw [although inabraw is more often referred to on veggie leaves, as in inabraw a saluyot or inabraw a marunggi, etc.]; vegetable, fruit and/or leaves boiled/stewed in/with bugguong) is a staple in every Ilokano home or community (be it in his house or in any dining place like in a summer picnic by the river, in a lunch in a pakarso (cogon shade) in the rice fields or farmland,or in a big, festive occasion). It might be the main dish or viand to go with the innapuy (steamed rice), or as a companion dish with meat dishes like  adobo, lechon, caldereta or the inevitable pinapaitan or sinanglaw or sangkutsar, the presence of dinengdeng is a must as it somehow "balances" the food between what's said as "healthy" and what's "unhealthy," serving more as an appetizer of sorts if more fatty or oily or meaty dishes are on the table. But oftentimes, the dinengdeng is more preferred, the "most attacked," especially by those who are conscious of their "heart" or "liver"or of their waistlines.

I'm a typical Ilokano who can't live without dinengdeng or any dish with bugguong. I see to it that I always have to eat veggies especially greens not primarily because of health concerns but because I'm used to it as I was raised as a "dinengdeng addict" (although, of course, I cannot be considered a vegan for that matter, for I also love meat). Be it a simple dinengdeng or inabraw of saluyot and marunggay leaves with or without any sagpaw (add-on fish or meat), or even a solo fare of kalunay or kuantong, or alukon leaves, or utong tops, or karabasa flowers.

Now, here are some of my favorite dinengdengs that I cooked and consumed with gusto over the years:

This is a dinengdeng a tarong (eggplant), kalunay (spinach), patani (lima beans). You'll love this combination, the eggplant fruit here is called "marabusel" or "agadi iti busel"-- very young and very tender, still budding fruit; and the patani here is freshly picked from the vine and is very young you don't need to ukisan or peel off its skin (this is my favorite kind of patani, the one with a larger fruit with "flat" beans; another kind of patani is what we call as "perkolis" in Nueva Vizcaya, which has smaller pod and rounded beans; another one is the "nabanglo a patani" which has flat beans and kind of "fragrant" when cooked); the spinach here are the larger ones and not the "native" ones that grow wild, though; but it's still kalunay.

Patani still and now with alukon flowers. I adore patani as I grew with it and it was a favorite bean of mine as a child because my mother then (and until now) has a lot of patani vines that climb the shrubberies and trees in our yard. The young pods of the patani is also edible and it can go with the young beans in a hearty dinengdeng. The mature beans is also perfect for pinablad (boiled) like mung beans or cowpeas. As a child, we also love to grill patani over the fire, the roasted bean is very delicious! You gather patani fruits and roast the whole fruit, then open them and eat the cooked beans while piping hot.

This is a buridibod variation. Still, with the bagas ti kamote (camote, or sweet potato) as a main ingredient, with alukon flowers, and with kabatiti fruit and tarong. The blend is doubly sweet because of the camote and the kabatiti.

This is a medley of tarong, kuantong (native/wild spinach or amaranth), and paria (ampalaya, bitter melon) fruit.

And here's young kardis (kadios, pigeon peas) beans, with kuantong, tarong and paria.

Yet another tarong, paria and patani variation, with kabatiti. Some may shun a paria & kabatiti combination as the paria's bitterness may overwhelm the kabatiti. But I love them both in my dinengdengs. I simply don't put in the two at once in the pot, but at a time, I put the kabatiti first, cook it for a while and then afterwards, I put in the paria--it is the kabatiti's sweetness now that overwhelms the bitter paria. Also, don't overcook the paria. And slice your paria thinly crosswise and not length-wise for it to cook evenly minimizing its bitterness.

Utong (sitaw in Tagalog, cowpea) fruit and tarong and again paria & kabatiti. You might notice that I add in tomato slices in some of my dinengdeng and you might wonder (as some folks don't ever put in kamatis in their dinengdeng, something like a taboo for them). I just love it because for me, for my distinct taste buds, anyway, kamatis adds a little "sweet & sour" to the dinengdeng. I compare it to blanched or boiled veggies (kinilnat or nilambong or ensalada) with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona). I add kamatis slices especially when I cook dinengdeng ala-ensalada--that is cooked just right and not overcooked but not undercooked, with the veggies just crisp but succulent. Needless to say, I also "spice" my dinengdengs with few onion slices or if available, young onions/shallots with leaves (the young garlic would be greater for this end!), for "aroma" purposes.

This my favorite utong variety, the ones which grow as small shrub, its fruit not "yard-long," and doesn't climb (not a vine, saan nga agkalatkat, I forgot the local name). Its young fruit and beans are perfect for dinengdeng, it has this unique veggie sweetness especially if the fruit is freshly picked. And here, look at what I added--it's papait! Instead of paria, I added the more bitter papait and the result is is a perfect "bittersweet" blend. But anyway, papait is not that overly bitter when added to a dinengdeng. Put it in the pot as the last ingredient just some minutes before you put off the fire or adaw (get it off the fire) the dinengdeng. Just wilt it quick and serve it atop the dinengdeng. In this particular dinengdeng, I added as sagpaw dried shrimp fry (daing a kuros). You might also notice that my dinengdengs here are mostly without sagpaw (grilled or fried or dried or salted fish or meat). Well, I only put sagpaw when there's available. But usually, I prefer mine to be a "hardcore" dinengdeng--pure veggies and bugguong without fish or meat.

To dinengdeng, then be the glory!

And for more dinengdengs: 



katuday blossoms salad

Katuday (sesbania grandiflora) tree, along with the marunggay tree, and even the alukon tree, is often planted along roadsides in most Ilocos provinces and in front/backyards of Ilokano houses. You know you are in Ilocos or in an ilokano neighborhood if you see one, or a combination, or all, of these staple Ilokano "fixtures:" marunggay tree, katuday tree, alukon tree. If not planted right on the ground, you can sometimes notice "miniaturized" or "portable" versions planted in a sack or cut steel drum. Although, of course, katuday (katuray in Tagalog) is not exclusively Ilokano because other Filipino peoples also like it. But Ilokanos just love it as a salad drenched with bugguong and garnished with slices of tomatoes and onions. And you can also find it as a floral part in a dinengdeng a bulbulong (boiled leafy greens) along with karabasa blossoms. Katuday is also wonderful with your inabraw nga aba or ginettaan nga aba (taro stems/leaves/roots stew, or cooked in coconut milk), the bittersweet character of the flower leaves a unique sweetish aftertaste.


But I prefer the simple kinilnat a katuday (blanched) or ensalada a katuday. Put in a little amount of water in a pan, let it boil to bubling point and then put in your prepared and rinsed katuday blossoms. Let it boil for some three minutes or less then transfer it immediately into a bowl and garnish it with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona).


A note on preparing the flowers: to be assured of a naturally sweet katuday dish, do not rinse or soak throughly in water, to secure the nectar inside the flower (those which already blossomed). Also, when already cooked, do not squeeze the boiled blossoms. You can also just blanch the flowers to capture more of the of the nectar: rinse the flowers and with some waters clinging to the petals and all, put it in a pan without water and cover it, set it on high heat. After a couple minutes, check if the flowers are already somehow wilted, put off fire and transfer the flowers to a bowl and garnish.

(Originally blogged June 11, 2009)


grilled/tinuno a sili/young chili

What I love about sili, the local chili or green young peppers, besides being made into a dry pakbet (pinakbet a sili, green chilis stewed dry in vinegar, bugguong, garlic and ginger) or as an ingredient in pinakbet or sinigang, is simply grilled, or broiled/roasted as you may prefer to call/term it.

Freshly picked green peppers, that's perfect for grilling. So one time, when my potted peppers are again promising some bountiful harvest, I picked some and prepared for yet another quick tinuno a sili appetizer.

I skewered the sili fruit with barbecue stick and just put it on over the fire. Grill it for a few minutes. Keep on turning the peppers to evenly cook it. Don't over grill it else it becomes wilted and lose its size, juiciness and texture.

And here's it with its usual partners, tomatoes and bugguong (onion slices would be a great garnish, too, to complete the fanous Ilokano KBL [kamatis, bugguong, lasona]):

Imasnan! The silis are sweet. Pick the older fruit if you want hot ones. Young fruit of the chili variety I planted is not yet hot but when more matured turn into spicy ones.

(Originally blogged January 21, 2010)


sautéed buos/abuos (red/weaver ants) eggs

'Twas abuos (or buos, red/weaver ants) egg-harvesting season when I happened to see this bounty in the public market:

For all I know, harvesting this egg in abundance is seasonal as you can't expect any of it in the market all year round. A rarity that's one reason of its being a delicacy and being branded as an "exotica" in Ilokano cuisine. Although, of course, eating ants and insects is not exclusive to Ilokanos and other Pinoys but most of Asia, especially Southeast, do. For one, in Thailand, the red ant eggs and the ant itself is a delicacy, too, along with tons of other bugs edible to whoever has the fancy or "stomach" to enjoy it. Well, even Mexicanos feast on a delicacy of ant eggs called "escamole" which they refer to as "insect caviar."


See those magnificent eggs--errrr, pupae--and and "infant" ants in there? Looks yucky for some but yummy for a lot more Ilokanos who don't consider this as an exotica of sorts but just plain and simple viand to go with a hard-earned, perfectly steamed--nalinlinay and nakasaysayamusom--rice.

Preparing the abuos dish is again simplest of the simple. Mostly, it is sautéed or stir-fried: you slice some onions, crush some cloves of garlic, slice some tomatoes; put some cooking oil in a pan, and over high heat, sauté the onions, garlic and tomatoes, and after which put in the eggs and stir fry. Add some salt, and some ground pepper if you like. Cooking the eggs is brief, you know it's done when they become more translucent and shrunk a little than its raw size.


A somehow comfort food that yet again shows the versatility and industry of the Ilokanos and his cuisine.

(Originally blogged November 12, 2009)


sabidukong/pusapusa/dukep/bagbagkong/ampupuyat, edible wild vine flower

Sabidukong is a vine that grows wild in forested areas, it clings to and climbs tall shrubs and trees. It goes by various names depending on places. It is called sabidukong or sabsabidukong in Nueva Vizcaya, and in most areas in the Ilokandia. It is called dukep in San Fernando City (La Union), ampupuyat in Piddig (Ilocos Norte), pusapusa and/or patpatayok in Batac, bagbagkong in some other places, and even tirintintin in some areas.

This edible vine flowerettes (the young fruit called "padpadol" is also edible) is great with other leafy green veggies for a perfect dinengdeng. It can be a sort of garnishing atop your favorite saluyot and rabong, along with that grilled/broiled paltat/dalag/bangus. It can be sautéed or stir fried with your preferred vegetable medley. And, sure enough, it goes well with your beloved pinakbet.

Padpadol (harvested from Banna, Ilocos Norte) sold at a wet market in Sampaloc, Manila.

Sabidukong flower is now a rarity and perchance you came upon it in the market come rainy months, it's kind of expensive. Some years ago, we have a "domesticated" sabidukong plant in our backyard garden (in Dupax del Norte, Nueva Vizcaya). We have it in a trellis and it supplied us with enough flower and fruit for many seasons. Unfortunately, it eventually withered and died, I guess, a natural death. If i'm lucky, I could find sabidukong in the Bambang public market in Nueva Vizcaya when I stop over on my way back to Cagayan. I have yet to see sabidukong here in Cagayan, though. I think most people here don't know of it or are not aware that it's edible and kind of exotic fare.

Sabidukong is also great with boiled beans such as balatong, as is evident with what I did here:

This is pinablad a balatong sautéed in garlic and onions and with canned sardines (in tomato sauce). The sabidukong flowerettes are so sweet with that distinct herb-y aroma.

* * *

As an update to this blog post, here are some more pictures of sabidukong, courtesy of Jesse Calaustro, an agriculturist-farmer-entrepreneur from Dasol, Pangasinan:

Sabidukong flowerettes in the vine.

Just-picked sabidukong with other ingredients
(rabong, saluyot, kabatiti, bangus) ready for a great dinengdeng.

Sabidukong fruit, called "padpadol"
because of its resemblance to padol (stake).

Sabidukong, padpadol and others.

Sabidukong flowers in a dinengdeng with other greens and squash flowers.

(Originally blogged January 27, 2010)



kilawen a bilis, raw sardine/herring

Bilis is the local sardine/herring fish (family clupeidae) which is usually consumed raw or cooked in vinegar. I like it raw or kilawen (kinilaw). Fresh bilis is prized for its sweetish flesh and oily texture (which is common in sardine and herring fishes). I came upon a fresh bilis catch from Aparri (Cagayan) town and immediately prepared some for kinilaw.


Here's my video of the process:

I removed head and guts and washed the fish well. You can opt to fillet the fish (remove the fishbone) for a more presentable kinilaw. But for me, this time, I'm over-eager to consume it so I didn't remove the siit anymore--I'll just take care of it when I'll eat them one by one, hehehe! After washing the decapitated and gutted fish, tossed it in vinegar, minced onions and crushed and minced garlic and ginger, some salt (add cracked pepper if you like), and chilis fermented in vinegar. It's that simple. The vinegar will simply "cook" the bilis. Put in a freezer for some minutes if you want, for all the ingredients/spices to blend well with the fish flesh.


A close up of this heavenly delicacy. See the oily skin? Great texture. The flesh is so sweetishly sour and so delicious and sumptuous with its distinct sardiny smell that blesses the palate with the taste and aroma of the raw sea:

Perfect for pulutan and as an appetizer. Mangantayon! (Originally blogged December 2, 2009) 

Some comments from the original post:
Marlene Says:
02 December 2009 at 2:05 pm e

Saan ko pay a naramanan to fresh fish. It looks like it’s safe. i would like to try some but where can i get it here in Vancouver, Canada

Rey Says:
02 December 2009 at 4:47 pm e

Wow ang sarap, maalala ko while i was still in the Philippines, yan ang lagi naming ginagawa specially pag season sa isdang yan. i wish mayron din yan d2 sa Vancouver.

Vicky Says:
03 December 2009 at 5:36 pm e

Tinagan na pay kanyami no dadakel ket Baranban, ibabad ti iloko suka, pamienta ken asin overnight kinabigatan ket iprito daytoy, talaga nga naimas daytoy.

In germany this kind of fish called Herring. They eat as kilawen too,With vinegar, lots of Onion, pepper and salt.When we eat ,take the tail and start the upper part of the fish ( w/out head and bone of course)

08 December 2009 at 8:11 am e

I don’t know if this is an original Ilocano dish. When I was in Italy, they were serving this kind of dish. Meron nga lang olive oil.

Marlene Says:
08 December 2009 at 12:25 pm e

okey that is called herring here in vancouver. i see that fish pickled and looks tasty.

rva Says:
08 December 2009 at 12:53 pm e

bilis is classified as a sardine fish and is under the family Clupeidae which also include herrings, shads, anchovies, etc. it might be a subspecies of the pacific herring (Clupea pallasii). another species is the atlantic herring.

anyway, herring is also traditionally eaten raw in the netherlands and in some other scandinavian countries.

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herring and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clupeidae

aurora lambino Says:
02 January 2010 at 2:28 pm e

Thank you for this blog. I truly enjoyed looking at all your post(s), specially the pictured ilokano dishes. My mother used to cook “all” these when we were growing up in Baguio (ie my mother is a migrant from Sto Domingo, Ilocos Sur). Have not mastered any of those featured.. I do a “quasi” job with frozen ingredients I find in the supermarket doing binug-goongan nga saluyot ken marunggay, when my 96 Year old mother craves for these.. Thanks again, I will try to find squash flowers in the summer. Definitely recommending it to my friends,


More kilawen nga ikan:

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