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...


inasar a kakalkalap a tilapia

Inasar is tinuno, that's grilled or broiled over hot coals. And yeah, right, these are tilapia fish just caught using a tabukol (fish net) from a pond.....

.... cleaned, and skewered at once and put on over eager embers.

And the result is this, inasar a tilapia served on a banana leaf covered make-shift table, with nakalamansian a bugguong (bugguong squeezed up with calamansi) for a dip, and of course, steaming steamed rice--picnic style.





Sardinas. Canned sardines. Goes so well with almost every vegetable you can think of, and many more. Good with green papayas, chayote, gourds (kabatiti, tabungaw, tangkoy), banana blossoms (sabunganay or susop), young jackfruit/breadfruit (langka or anangka, rimas, pakak), boiled beans (balatong, utong, kardis [pusi]), even with green leafy veggies like spinach, camote, kangkong, petchay, and the like. And aba (taro) and pikaw (wild taro) shoots/stalks.

These, sautéed, or just plain boiled with.

Like this boiled balatong with sabidukong and sardinas.

And this one, still a balatong but with paria:

And of course with some flour and rice noodles like bihon, miki, canton, sotanghon, misua and other noodles.

I particularly love bihon with sardinas, it's a delicious viand with steamed rice! Like this:

And also this delicious one, with misua:

Hmm, you can even put it in your scrambled egg or as garnish/topping/filling in your holy pasta (spaghetti, carbonara, lasagna).

And but of course, it’s also good as it is, right from the tin can, with sliced tomatoes and onions and a squeeze of calamansi or a hint of vinegar, and some hot chili:



dinengdeng a bunga ti singkamas a naalseman iti palali/jicama fruit soured with catmon fruit

Throwback from 2013, here’s bunga ti singkamas (jicama fruit or pod) again, after my singkamas buridibod, now, we’ll have dinengdeng a singkamas a naalseman iti palali, soured with palali fruit (also called catmon in Tagalog and Visayas regions).

I prefer to sour singkamas pods, usually with young tamarind fruit. But this time, I’ll try it with the equally sour palali, since I can’t find any juvenile salamagi fruit around:

Cleaned, it’s ready:

I boiled the palali first in the bugguong broth, I put in some tinapa (smoked galunggong) flakes as a sagpaw (add-on):

And then the singkamas pods:

Cooking the pods should be as quick as possible to retain its succulent crispness and beautiful green hue and texture:

There, it’s an incredibly good dinengdeng, the flavors are phenomenal and awesome, enhanced by the smoky and fishy tinapa and that aromatic red onion. all made possible by the magic of bugguong:

‘Maykayon, mangantayon, come, let's eat! Bring on that steaming rice!


More singkamas and palali dishes: 


ipon, once more

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

Ipon, freshly caught, is best as kilawen (kilawin, raw) with sliced tomatoes and onions, some ginger, and salt.

It’s also good as sinigang with soup or broth, and as tamales, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed or broiled.

And fried:

It’s also one of the best for bugguong (bottled here, the white ones)

And yes, as a torta or omellete. And dried as daing.


More on fish and more kilawen nga ikan:

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pannakipunsion idiay ballesteros

On a 2013 pannakipunsion (going to an occasion, or foodie trip for that matter), this time the christening of the daughter of a writer-friend, in Ballesteros, Cagayan, we were feted with the usual local community handaan or sagana, and here’s you’ll find some unusually delicious dishes meant for special occasions, that teased our eager palates. You can see here the traditional pork igado, dinardaraan and adobo; there’s a native chicken adobo, too; and the inevitable pancit bihon. And some more:

Here are some real appetizer—coconut heart/bud (ubog ti niog) cooked in coconut milk and spiced with chili and raw onions and adorned with bits of fried pork intestines/tripe; and the obligatory beef kappukan, of course:

And yes, there’s a veggie, this a dinengdeng, not pinakbet, actually sautéed dinengdeng, of squash fruit and flowers, tarong, sili, okra, with fried pork meat and fat:

The ubog ti niog is the favorite:

And there’s the specialty of the Ilokano writer-poet Jobert Pacnis (father of the christened girl)—ginettaan or sinursuran a bulong ti ariwat (ariwat leaves cooked in coconut milk; ariwat [Tetrastigma harmandii Planch.], ayo in Tagalog, is vine with edible sweet, sour fruit), a sweet and really sour dish to get rid of your suya from all those fatty and meaty pork dishes:



brunch idiay santa teresita

Brunch? That’s breakfast and lunch, coined/rolled into one. Usually, that’s when you eat at 9AM-10AM. But it’s actually an early lunch. Or a late breakfast? Take your option. But this one thing we partook in Palagao, Santa Teresita, Cagayan is a legit “brunch” because we did it at about 9AM. And it’s a heavy one.

Coffee, plain white rice, eggs, and there it is–naalseman a kapiged! And that brandy (I poured some on my black coffee (not shown) and it’s so good!):

Oh my! These are Buguey kapiged (fished from the fishing town of Buguey) oozing with fishfat:

A closer look, kapiged is so oh-tasty a fish:

And here’s one that really made our gastronomic morning–jumping salad, live pasayan which we mercilessly dipped in calamansi juice with salt:

OMG, these live pasayans are so good with my brandied coffee, the sweetness and succulence of its raw flesh is all the more pronounced:

Can’t help but to... burp…!



pinabelllad a balatong

Pinabellad or pinablad, boiled, or literally, enlarged.

One time, n a rather cloudy day with bits of rainshower, as in cold day, quite unusual on the onset of summer but a perfect day to boil some balatong because pinablad a balatong is usually a great appetizer on rainy or cold days.

This is just plain pinabellad a balatong sauteed in little cooking oil and garlic and onions, and then topped with some greens, marunggay and uggot ti kabatiti:

The plainest and simplest there is, without sagpaw (add-on), no grilled or fried fish or meat, just some leaves, this is the way most Ilokanos prefer it:

And this one, with repolio:

Ilokano simplicity and frugality at its best!


More balatong dishes: