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...


dinengdeng a sabunganay, banana blossom stew

Dinengdeng a sabunganay with sabong-karabasa and pallang.
Sabunganay or susop, banana blossom or inflorescence, can be prepared in a variety of ways as a vegetable. Be it inggisa (sauteed), kinilnat (boiled) as a salad, veggie for sinigang or other soups, and ingredient in the famous kare-kare, as an ukoy (fritter), as a bola bola (meatballs), as a kinilaw, and others.

I most prefer it as a plain dinengdeng anyway. Again, this is a childhood staple. We used to have a lot of banana "trees" (mostly plaintain variety called "dippig") in our place in Nueva Vizcaya which bear sabunganays all year round. My mother will dengdeng it with saluyot most of the time and sour it with young salamagi fruit. Or with young singkamas (jicama) pods when it's in season. Just a plain dinengdeng, without sagpaws. And what I liked most about this dinengdeng is the "puso," the innermost part of it, the bud, the core, which is the most tender and sweet. My younger brother and I crave for it and we usually "fight" over it and our mother will just halve it for us to have fair shares of the precious and delicious banana heart.

But preparing the sabunganay for a dinengdeng is a challenge of sort. It's kind of complicated task. Your hand, fingers, especially your nails is in danger of being stained with its sap, a sticky and brownish stain difficult to wash off. But the muri process is an art by itself: you open the blossom's bracts and pick out the clusters of the male flowers (the female flowers are the ones developed into fruit) and remove the stamen (or is it pistil?) or the "palito" out of each flowerettes. Discard the tougher and outer purple bracts, retain the white tender ones:

And here it is, cleaned and ready for the washing and rinsing off its sap (the sap should be discarded as it is kind of bitter or unpalatable):

Now this where you sacrifice that delicate and smooth hand and finger and manicured nail of yours--the squeezing to get rid of the sap. Put in some salt to help in the process, minimizing the bitterness later and sap stain:

Discard the sap out by rinsing it with water after every squeeze:

Squeezed dry, this is it, and there's the heart which I didn't slice, it should be intact to retain its sweet succulence:

We'll have pallang and karabasa flowers and tops to accompany our sabunganay:

I cooked it the way a dinengdeng should be: boiled water and diluted the bugguong, put in some onion slices and then the sabunganay, further boiled it, simmered (at this juncture, I halved the "heart" for it to evenly cook), and when it's tender enough, I put in the pallang and the karabasa and cooked it quickly to just kind of wilt it to retain crispness:

Here's the dinengdeng served, with that prized puso waiting for my eager plate and palate:

Of course, the heart is mine, alone, this time. No, I heartily shared the other half, I'm that generous still, I do have a heart.

And once again, I delighted in my childhood's dinengdeng a sabunganay. I swear I made it the way my mother intended it to be. My palate's memory of taste is as strong as today as it was. Come, share with me this grace.