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...


a feast of ilokano food exotica...

Of course, there's still a sort of exotica when it comes to Ilokano food, whatever being exotic means. And although these are common fares specially in the away or in the barrios/farming communities, it becomes a rare delicacy or exotic even, when these are featured for all the uninitiated world to see, taste,  or simply to be squeamish. And usually, it's being showcased during so-called festivals, like the recent Gameng Festival in Solsona, Ilocos Norte, an annual celebration which aims "to strengthen Solsona’s culture, promote its cultural products and designs and preserve and conserve its historical and cultural treasure and resources."

Our friend writer-journalist Leilanie Adriano of the Ilocos Times, has exclusively covered the festival, especially the food portion, and shared us these mouth-watering photographs to feast on (click on the photos for a larger view):

Eating insects is not really unusual because Ilokanos are used to beetles, grubs, crickets, and other edible bugs. And of course, ants! And this is kinda extreme--this is abuos (red ants) ukoy or fritter. I myself didn't yet try this one, and I wish I could have one soon!

Sauteed abuos eggs and pupae (with some juvenile ants in it, anyway), well, this is a milder abuos delicacy, I think. I love this one! [See a previous blog post about red ant's egg]

Ballaiba salad. [See a previous blog post about ballaiba]

Tabtaba (also called bakbakasi and barbaradio) salad. [See a previous blog post about tabtaba]

Ensalada nga aba. I miss and missed this one, really. Besides dinengdeng nga aba, we used to just boil aba stalks back in Nueva Vizcaya and garnish it simply with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona) like this. I have yet to see anything like this here in Cagayan. Will try it soon! [See a previous blog post about dinengdeng nga aba]

Kinirog nga ararawan. Fried mole cricket. I haven't had the opportunity to have a taste of this for three decades! Ararawan is a rarity these days! [See a previous blog post about ararawan]

And this! Birabid! This used to be a usual farmer's innapuy pair when I was a child when birabid's still abundant. It's almost extinct nowadays it really became a true exotica! I haven't seen this in 4 billion years!

Dinengdeng a bisukol! But of the Taiwanese variety, though. What I miss are the native ones--the black shelled ones I used to pick in the fields as a small child. Like the birabid, black bisukol is extremely rare.

Adobo a bisukol. Perfect pulotan!

Dinengdeng nga agurong. [See a previous blog post about agurong cooked in coconut milk]

Pakbet a saluyot. [See a previous blog post about  pakbet a saluyot]

Dinakdakan a pakak! Boiled pakak and prepared/seasoned like a pork dinakdakan. [See previous post about dinakdakan]

Marunggay flowers salad (with tender leaves). [See a previous blog post about dinengdeng a marunggay]

Ilokano vegetable salad medley: marunggay blossoms and leaves, sabunganay (banana heart/blossom), and bunga ti rabanos (white radish fruit). [See a previous blog post about susop or sabunganay]

Adobo a tukak! Missed this! [See a previous blog post about tukak]

Tukak barbecue.

Nilingta a kuskusleng. Of the bunog (freshwater goby/mullet) family.

Nailingta a palileng! Now, I can't help but to just imagine the last time I got lucky to partake fat palilengs, that was perhaps about 10 years ago in Gonzaga, Cagayan. Palileng is a tasty freshwater fish, it's so rare, and of course expensive, nowadays.

Still of the goby/mullet family, this is called ilek and which we generally label as bunog.

Nilingta a bukto. Bukto or birut, also commonly called as bunog. [See a previous blog post about bukto/birut/bunog]

Inasar a native a paltat! [See a previous blog post about native paltat]

Tinenneb a dalag (attasi, buntiek). [See a previous blog post about dalag]

Tinola a native a manok.

Dinardaraan a pato.

What a feast!



red/purple katuday

Nalabbasit a katuday.
It's February. And it's 14th. Supposedly a lovers' day for all. It's also flowers and chocolate's day, you can't imagine how many tons of cut flowers and chocolate bars may have been gifted upon and consumed on this single day of the year...

And to join the grand celebration of romance, I have here a heap of red flowers for you. Actually purple. And this is edible, mind you. This is a variety of katuday. What more could you wish for, beautiful red flowers and it's edible, too! We'll make a dinengdeng or a salad out of it to make it the more enjoyable, delightful, delicious! Naimas, naim-imas!

Let's enjoy the beauty of the blossoms first, before we subject it into a dissection to prepare it for cooking (click on the photos for a larger view):

For this dinengdeng, the purple katuday will be paired with crisp pallangs. I added camote cubes (not shown) to sweeten and starch the broth, thus making it a kind of buridibod.

Luckily, I've got some grilled tilapia as an "al-alia" (sagpaw, add-on) for my dinengdeng. I boiled it first in the simmering bugguong broth:

And it's done! It's just so unfortunate that the purple katuday lost its fabulous color and texture when it's cooked/wilted--it turned into an unsightly bluish black, much to my consternation, arrgggh! But anyway, the dinengdeng is so promising as you can see--the same bittersweet katuday flavor enhanced by the starchy sweet potato and the crispy and still green pallang:

The rest of the red blossoms, I made into a salad with KBL (kamatis-bugguong-lasona):

That's it. But I just can't get away with the royal color of this katuday, so let's have them in its majestic splendor yet again:



pinakbet a bawang, young garlic stew

Pinakbet a naganus a bawang.
Some time before the maturing and uprooting season of garlic in the Ilocos provinces, the tiendaan or mercado publico (public/local market) is usually abundant with young garlic being sold alongside young onions. Although not as popular as the onion, when it comes to being used as a vegetable (specially raw, with the famous KBL or kamatis-bugguong-lasona trio which apparently is the Ilokano salsa of sort), green garlic is preferred by Ilokanos for a kind of aromatic stew called pinakbet a bawang (actually an inabraw), cooked in bugguong, kamatis, ginger just like the way an Ilokano pinakbet medley is done. A pinakbet with lots of young garlic is also a staple during green garlic times. A dinengdeng or inabraw with bits of young garlic bulbs and leaves is equally sumptuous. Naganus a bawang is also made into a great spicy appetizer called inartem a bawang--that is, fermented in suka ti basi (Ilocos cane vinegar) with chili and other spices.

Young garlic is exclusively abundant in the Ilocos, where bawang is a major crop, especially in the towns of Pasuquin, Pinili, Badoc, Sinait and others. But during the season, young garlic can reach the nearby towns of Cagayan, and even in Tuguegarao City. This young bawang, fresh from Pasuquin, I chanced at the vegetable talipapas along the highway in Nassiping in Gattaran town:

I "cleaned"some from the bundles:

Washed it thoroughly after which and diced it, ready for cooking:

The young bawang cooking (you boil some water and bugguong, put in the sliced tomatoes and crushed ginger, and then the naganus a bawang):

Boil for some time and then simmer. Because this is a pinakebbet, then it should be a dry stew. You can opt to retain some broth if you prefer, as a kind of "sauce" to your labay:

And it's done! The leaves will shed its green into a darker shade when fully cooked:

I can't tell you how delicious and aromatic it is, this solo bawang pinakbet, but with it I didn't mind consuming platefuls of rice to go with. You have to have it, partake it, relish it, enjoy it, to fully know and understand why Ilokanos have acquired quite a taste of it, and proudly so:

Next, my inartem a bawang.....