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...


tinenneb a buntiek, broiled mudfish sour soup

Tinenneb a buntiek (attasi)
When it comes to food, regionally and hence, culturally, Ilokanos love bitter foods, just as the Tagalog prefer sour ones (the famous sigang or sinigang comes to mind). But of course, we Ilokanos also love sour and sourness. We even have our own concoction and fermentation of vinegar--the famous suka Iloko or sugarcane vinegar which goes with our basi wine making industry (when our old folks make basi, they also make suka, inevitably and not only when a basi fails to ferment into wine but turn sour and instead becomes a fine suka).

And so, the Ilokano, too, has some sour dishes to serve. We have sour/soured soup like the famous paksiw of Ilocos Norte and sinanglaw of Ilocos Sur, boiled beef and innards soured with suka Iloko or with tamarind (young pods and/or the flower and shoots) or with pias (kamias). Sometimes, the Ilokano pinapaitan (way different from the maasim na papaitan of the Tagalogs which is not mapait at all but all asim), bitter as it is, is also mildly moderated with souring agents like suka Iloko or pias and salamagi. And yessir, we love sinigang, too, and we have our own version of it, simply called inalseman.

And then, we have the simpliest of simple tinenneb (also called inalseman or sinalamagian [in our place, we call it nadanuman a tinaltal a salamagi [just plain crushed tamarind with water flavored with salt and a pinch of umami (MSG)] bacause we make it even without the obligatory broiled fish]).

Simple because preparing it is not that complicated. All you need is fish, broiled (although of course, mudfish is most preferred [the smaller or medium-sized ones], and especially the ar-aro fish which by the way is becoming a rare species nowadays; paltat (catfish) is also used, and even tilapia, but the tastiest for this soup dish is buntiek/dalag/attasi and ar-aro).

And of course, young tamarind pods, and optionally, some onions (young ones with leaves would be perfect) for an added zing, and optionally according to preference, chili, for an spicy soup.

And of course, water, hot water (could also be cold water, but it should be hot so that it goes well with the tenneb process to be true to its very name--it's like panagtenneb iti mapanday a buneng, the forging of a blade, the tempering and quenching of the hot metal using water to cool it and thus hardening the blade).

And salt to taste, of course.

You crush the tamarind to render its juice and sourness (do not crush the seeds, though), you flake the broiled fish into pieces. Put these in a bowl and then pour into it hot water. Season with salt. Put in chopped onions. The hot water will "cook" the soup. And it's done!

The soup is heavenly, its sourness is so deliciously insane, all the more enhanced by the fragrance and umami-ness of the broiled fish. Spike it with fresh chilis and help yourself savoring more of this perfect Ilokano sour soup.