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...


tinuno a kabatiti/roasted patola (sponge gourd)

One of my "most liked veggie fruit" is the native kabatiti (patola, sponge gourd, Cucumis acutangulus Linn.), the native bilidan (angular) variety (I prefer the bilidan kabatii than the one with soft skin and "nabanglo a kabatiti" (aromatic patola); the native bilidan is more sweeter and palatable, while the soft-skinned one is somewhat bland like tabungaw (upo; bottle gourd) or tangkoy. It's a childhood favorite as I was used to a vegetable diet which is typical in a farming community where I was born and grew. My mother would prepare it "special" by sauteeing the kabatiti sliced roundish with fragrant native bawang and native lasona, and then boil it. It's a very savory soup, so sweet, that I enjoy up to my adulthood. I make it occasionally, this time with sotanghon or misua or even bijon, and/or with Spanish-style sardines (in olive oil). Native kabatiti a bilidan is also a perfect veggie fruit ingredient in dinengdeng as it enhances flavor and sweetens the broth.

A kabatiti (bilidan) in trellis in our place in Nueva Vizcaya.

Native kabatiti is cylindrically short and roundish.
And one of my preferred preparation of the kabatiti fruit is roasted or grilled. Not many Ilokanos know that kabatiti can be prepared this way. This is a practice usually in the away or in farms. For me, this is the most delicious way you can consume kabatiti fruit as roasting it with its own juice trapped and intact inside assures you of its raw succulence and sweetness. It's just like roasting freshly picked straw mushrooms wrapped in banana leaves.

Here, I would have roasted my kabatiti over live embers but no charcoals available, so I just contented myself roasting them over LPG fire instead for a quick grilled kabatiti fix.

You know it's well and done when the kabatitis are soft (to the touch). Don't over-grill the fruit or it got burn all over and you'll have difficulty "skinning" the burnt skin that may "badly puncture" the fruit and spill much of its sweet juice.

After removing the burnt skin, cleanse with running tap water (when washing, do it slightly and don't squeeze the kabatiti or you'll be deprived of its prized juice!), and then cut the fruit this way:

See the succulence of it? The juice oozing out?
You can season it with a bit of salt or some drops of bugguong. Don't put in too much salt or bugguong, lest the sweetness will be overwhelmed. Garnish it with sliced tomatoes or young onions, if you like.

Perfect with steaming rice, even without the usual fried fish or meat. The burnt skin adding a unique aroma to the dish, akin to the prized smokiness of a bacon.