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...


marunggay solo dinengdeng

Dinengdeng a solsolo a marunggay.
Marunggay, its leaves (and all its edibleness, fruit, and flowers), is simply my favorite leafy veggie, not just because of its richness in nutritive or mineral value, but because of its simplicity and versatility as a truly Ilokano vegetable, just like saluyot. I can make in it a quick salad express when I'm in a hurry for a meal, especially when I'm hungry for a kilabban.


what's cooking: ilokano cooks are the best

Ilokanos, the lowly folks, can cook, and cook extraordinary dishes right in their backyards in simple makeshift stoves and with only firewood. Especially in some festive occasions where large amount of food are to be prepared, the Ilokanos are experts, they can make the most palatable and even most presentable dishes, out of even the most crude or most unconventional way, the "cowboy" way.

This one here, you can see there an open pot with duck meat being simmered to tenderize it, to be seasoned soon enough to turn it into an adobo a pato. The big pot has boiling water with which to cook the rice (pre-soaked in water for it to expand) soon, as the photo series shows. Cooking rice in a big pot entails a lot of cooking skills and precision so as to make it perfectly boiled/steamed. Not many can cook rice this way as it's kind of hard to calculate water:rice ratio, and even the amount of fire is carefully moderated, to avoid a raw innapuy, or worse a burnt innapuy. This was in Abariongan Ruar, Sto Niño, Cagayan.


kardis, kadyos, pigeon peas

Dinengdeng a kardis with saluyot. [Photo from Sikat ang Camiling]
Kardis (kadyos, pigeon pea, also called "pusi" in Ilocos region when dried), is an important vegetable legume all throughout the Philippines, in either its young pod or its dried seeds.It is the "K" in the popular KBL dish in the Visayas, the kadyos-baboy-langka combination of a dish of boiled pork knuckles and/or hocks. Ilokanos simply make the young pods and seeds into a dinengdeng with leafy greens or other legumes. The pusi is also simply boiled (pinablad) with meat or dried fish, like balatong or other beans.

"The Dinengdeng Debate: Authencity and Cuisine"

An authentic Ilokano dinengdeng: prepared by an Ilokano, and cooked in bugguong no less. You've here tarong, sabong-kabatiti, kubay (bilonak, alugbati).

So, the so-called debate on the "originality" or authenticity of regional dishes or cuisines, rages on. Still. Specially and specifically, this time around, on the venerated Ilokano dinengdeng... I'm surprised and apparently awed when I found this out featured by one of the most respected and ever popular blogger/writer/journalist, Manuel L. Quezon III, himself, yes! in his blog.


more platefuls of ilokano dishes, labay 2

And here's more of the plates of Ilokano dishes I enjoyed. Back from previous sumptuous labays... (click on the photos for a larger view):

Pakbet/paksiw a saluyot (also called tinimtiman a saluyot), and boiled mung beans with young langka.


dinengdeng a mais, white corn stew/soup

Mais, corn, young corn kernel, is one of the best for soups, well, Ilokano-wise, Pinoy-wise. Well, besides being boiled and/or grilled on the cob. And the best, for me, is the small "native" diket (malagkit, "sticky") white corn. The dish is popular all over, it's called "sinuwam na mais" by the Tagalogs, the Ilokanos simply call it as "dinengdeng a mais."


Filipino food is the 'next big thing'

(... and of course, Ilokano food!)

The famous Ilokano pinakbet.
Photo by Baltazar B. Simpliciano.

By Veronica Meewes via TODAY.com

Few types of cuisine are hard to find anymore. Mexican and Tex-Mex are readily available, Indian buffets are standard fare, sushi just seems to keep growing in popularity, and Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese are easily accessible. And food experts claim that Peruvian and Korean cuisine are the fare du jour.

So what’s the next fad food? Andrew Zimmern, host of “Bizarre Foods” on the Travel Channel, has a theory: “I predict, two years from now, Filipino food will be what we will have been talking about for six months … I think that’s going to be the next big thing,” he told TODAY.com.


daludal, sagibsib, taro shoots/suckers

Paksiw (inalseman) a daludal.

Aba (gabi, taro), besides its preferred leaves and stems, and its inevitable bagas (corm), is also an important vegetable specially among Ilokanos because of its daludal (or sagibsib, also sammimit), the shoot or sucker which grows from the corm. It can be consumed as regular veggie and can be in the company of other leafy greens and veggie fruits for a delicious and hearty dinengdeng, prized for its slimy texture akin to a saluyot. It can be cooked in coconut milk just like laing. Or as a solo dinengdeng with broth. Or as a paksiw or pakbet (soured), cooked dry.

Daludal for sale in a roadside talipapa.

Daludal being cleaned and readied for the next dinengdeng or paksiw.

Cleaned daludal ready for cooking.

Paksiw a daludal done. Cook it just like a dinengdeng, only, use a small amount of water boiled for the bugguong. Add-in crushed garlic, ginger, onions. And sour it with some drops of vinegar (don't put in too much vinegar). Or green mangoes, if available. Or pias (kamias). Or young tamarind fruit. That's it. Cook it well to prevent "itchiness" (just like the way you cook taro's leaves, stems, corm).



Home-cooked meals add to life expectancy

From time to time, as a respite, I'll be featuring some "guest" articles here, like this one about home-cooked meals, relevant to our quest for a more healthy lifestyle.

Dinengdeng a marunggay being cooked at home.
(click on photo for a larger view) 
Tucking into a home-cooked meal up to five times a week could add years to your life, according to new research.

The study, recently published in Public Health Nutrition by researchers from Monash University, the National Defense Medical Centre, Taiwan and the National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan, found that people who cooked at home at least five times a week were 47 per cent more likely to still be alive after 10 years.

The ten-year study looked at the cooking habits of Taiwanese living independently aged over 65 years. Of the participants, 31 per cent reportedly prepared meals at home at least five times per week, 17 per cent cooked no more than twice a week, 9 per cent cooked at home three to five times per week, while the remainder (43 per cent) reported that they never cooked at home.

Authentic home-cooked dinengdeng: string beans, lima/broad beans, pigeon peas, marunggay, and grilled bangus.
(click on photo for a larger view) 

When researchers followed up ten years later, they found of the surviving participants that frequent cooking was a significant factor in their health and long life.

Lead author, Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University’s Asia Pacific Health and Nutrition Centre at the Monash Asia Institute, said those who cooked more often had a better diet.

“We found those that cooked more frequently had a better sense of nutritional knowledge than those who didn’t,” Emeritus Professor Wahlqvist said.

Authentic home-cooked dinengdeng:
alukon, langka, marungay, kabatiti, sabong-karabasa, patani.
Photo by James V. Felipe

(click on photo for a larger view) 

“Cooking is an activity that requires both good mental and physical health. Besides the health benefits the actual cooked meal provides, there are other physiological benefits obtained from its production, purchase, preparation and eating, especially with others.”

The researchers found that dietary diversity was also associated with greater survival rates amongst the participants.

“We found that those who cooked more frequently had a better diet and more favourable nutrient densities,” Emeritus Professor Wahlqvist said. "It is therefore possible that cooking is related to longevity through food choice and quality.”

Authentic home-cooked chicken tinola with paria leaves.
Photo by Gina Bumatay Cayanan.

(click on photo for a larger view) 

Nutrient density is the ratio of nutrient content (in grams) to the total energy content (in kilocalories or joules).

The results also indicated women lived longer than men when there was a need to cook for a spouse, suggesting that women are more likely to find physiological health benefits from the pleasure in cooking for others.

(Source: http://www.monash.edu.au/news/show/home-cooked-meals-add-to-life-expectancy)


saluyot & tarong

What to do with these? Saluyot and tarong. And this tarong, the "white" variety (actually green but called "puraw a tarong") which is somewhat rare and not usually available every market time, and which is good for some simple tarong dishes.
Saluyot ken tarong.
(click on photo for a larger view)
First with the tarong, I want it fried (prito a tarong) as this variety of eggplant is perfect for frying as it is rather huge and its flesh is soft, tender. I sliced it length-wise into thin strips, sprinkled some Pasuquin salt on the slices and deep fried it quickly in boiling cooking oil, when done I drained its oil and served it with bugguong squeezed with calamansi. Delicious for breakfast, or even for lunch or dinner. (Click on photos for a larger view.)

The next meal time, I made a dinengdeng a saluyot ken tarong with fried tilapia:

And lastly, when only some few saluyot stalks are left, I decided on a pinakbet or paksiw a saluyot (also caled "tinimtiman a saluyot") with dried fish as sagpaw (add-on):
Dried fish from Santa Ana, Cagayan.
I boiled a minimal amount of water with the bugguong. I put in the dried fish fist and let it boil. Simmered, then I put in some onions and Ilocos garlic (from Pinili, Ilocos Norte at that!), the the saluyot. When it's almost done, I added a few drops of vinegar (luckily I still have apple cider left), cooked it some more, and then it's ready. Cooked it almost dry, with just a little thick broth for a tasty labay