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...


kaimito, star apple milky summer delight

Kaimitos for sale in the Tuguegarao City public market.
It's summer time again, and so with some of the seasonal fruits that we so eagerly anticipate. Like kaimito, or star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito). In the Philippines, this is a childhood favorite. As a child who grew in the barrio, you used to feast on this fruit come summer, March and April, where it fully ripens to its so-sweety and so-milky goodness, the purple ones and the greenish-white ones. Never mind if its sticky latex builds a thin "mustache" around your lips, you climb the tree to pick the sun-ripened fruit, taking care not to fall or break its brittle branches laden with numerous balls of delight. Or shoot them with a palsiit (slingshot). Or pick them down with a long bamboo pole.


pinakbet a paria, bitter melon stew

Here's another bitter dish that defines the Ilokano, and what else but the paria itself and this is done with a famous Ilokano "brand"--pinakbet. Yes, pinakbet a paria, the bitter bitter melon made into pinakbet. This is one Ilokano dish that's somehow a test to prove one's mettle on "enjoying" what's bitter is better. This is real bitter, and genuine Ilokano bitterness aficionados prefer it this way. Just as they love the wild version of it. Just as they love papait as is.  This is it, when you want a really bitter intake. But mind you, after the bitterness, there's this inevitable sweet aftertaste courtesy of its condiments, the tomatoes, onions, ginger, garlic, and of course, bugguong!


ipon, fish fries/silver fish

Ipon? Ipon what? You mean hipon? Or iPhone? Yes, the tiny fish, ipon, which is a prized fish in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions, is often mispronounced, misunderstood, mistaken. Some non-Ilokano folks mistake it as hipon or small shrimps (aramang, alamang in Tagalog), due to mispronunciation or the way it sounded to them. And do you know that when you google image "ipon" much of the search results point to that pesky iPhone (Apple) luxury phone?

Fresh ipon from Santa, Ilocos Sur.

Ipon for sale in Dugo, Camalaniugan, Cagayan.

Another ipon (larger fries) for sale in Dugo, Camalaniugan, Cagayan.

This is ipon, a "tiny fish," but this is actually the fries of the goby fish, or in some instance, that of the anchovy fish. It's also called silver fish. And it's also called dulong in some Ilocos areas (not the big and rare, and as a result expensive, ludong). Ipon for some is considered an Ilokano exotic food or delicacy because of its mystery, rarity, high price, and of course of its distinct flavor favored by Ilokanos.

Ipon can be prepared and cooked in a variety of ways, kilawen (raw, with sliced tomatoes, chopped onions, diced ginger, salt), as a soup (boiled with lots of tomatoes, onions and ginger), as a tamales wrapped in banana leaf and steamed or grilled, or simply steamed or boiled dry, and many others.

Kilawen nga ipon.

Ipon in a savory soup with tomatoes, ginger, and onions.

Ipon soup.

Ipon soup (detail).

This is a real kicker! Boiled ipon with gamet (dried seaweed, nori).

Ipon with gamet (detail).

Steamed ipon with ginger and onions.

Kilawen nga ipon.

Ipon to be mixed as a kilawen.

Kilawen nga ipon and kilawen a kalding as pulotan.

Ipon is  also good with dinengdeng or the ubiquitous Ilokano medley of veggies and leafy greens in soup with the essential bugguong.

Dinengdeng nga ipon with bulong ti paria.

Ipon is also best as dried or daing to be fried or as a sagpaw, again, in a dinengdeng.

Ipon being prepared to be sundried, on a leaf and atop a galvanized iron roof.

Beautiful sun-dried ipon.