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...


kilawen a babassit a talibukno

This is fresh and raw fish prepared as a "salad" or kilawen. This particular fish is called talibukno (variably identified scientifically as Leiognathus ruconiusGazza minuta, and others) and fished from Claveria, Cagayan, best as a kilawen at this size of growth, small ones and bite size so you can consume all of it, head and intestines, bones--perfect for a kilawen nga ikan just like that of the munamon/taburkit, or padas, or tirong.

A bounty fresh from the sea:

A kilogram of talibukno for the kilawen:

The preparation. Ginger and onions are a must. And salt, of course.

And a freshly squeezed calamansi juice as a souring agent with a zing (vinegar not recommended):

Mince them finely and mix:

And here it is. It invites you yo bring out your drinks as this is best for pulotan: What's missing here is, of course, sili ti sairo to make this a sure spicy hot kilawen.



More kilawen nga ikan:

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dinengdeng nga uong, papait, kabatiti, patani, nasagpawan iti kaluit (kumukusay)

This particular dinengdeng might somewhat be a weird for some, but this is it, I've done it, just so to prove/show the versatility of the dinengdeng or an Ilokano way of preparing and presenting and designing available vegetables and pair or combine it with almost everything edible, palatable, tasty, easy.

And here's a dinengdeng with a shellfish called kaluit or kalwit (also called sikadsikad, maninikad, aninikad, kumukusay). This is the plicate conch (scientific name: Strombus labiatus) which is abundant along reef coastlines. Its shell is kind of hard and its "meat" wedged deep spirally inside its whorl and spire you have to use a "pick" like that of a pomelo thorn to gouge it out. Some just resort to cracking the shell and simply gather the meat and cook it in a savory soup. But like agurong, suso, leddeg, bisukol, picking/extracting out (sultop or tudok) the meat is a thing to enjoy. Cooking this shellfish is simply boiling it with the usual tomatoes, ginger, onions, lemon grass like that of the usual freshwater clams and mollusk.

But here, it graced my dinengdeng of uong (those are straw mushroom buttons), papait, patani, and kabatiti (what an unusual bunch!):

What a mix! The broth is so tasty, it brings forth the aroma of the sea, the reefs, the seaweeds, and the dinengdeng is heavenly, as it were, as  the kaluit essence is enhanced by the umami of the straw mushroom, the sweetness of the kabatiti, the starchiness of the patani, and the inevitable bittersweetness of the papait.

My rice, please!


More dinengdengs:

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pinakbet a nakaparparia

What makes an Ilokano pinakbet or a pinakbet preferred by Ilokanos is that it is ,and it should be with, and not just with, but full of, paria or bitter melon. Because the Ilokano is known by its food preference for pait or bitterness, the more a pinakbet has paria, the more it is a sumptuous and delightful feast of bitterness and saltiness (of the preferred condiment bugguong--salt-fermented fish and not shrimps, of course!).

I always like my pinakbet to be nakaparparia, nakapapait, full of this beloved Ilokano veggie fruit--the native and wild variety is a must, too, for more bitterness to be rendered, endured, and enjoyed.

This is my recent pinakbet a nakaparparia, as a proof of pinakbet concept and life, the patneng nga Ilokano way:

And here are the ingredients from which I designed this perfect, well, almost, vanity pinakbet:

These are freshly picked/harvested bitter goodies from my container garden. Ilocos species of a paria kind, not the native one, though, but a hybrid of sort.

Some of the obligatory and faithful paria company for a pinakbet: kamatis, tarong, okra, and utong. Sili is not available at the time. And of course no karabasa here ever as it's a no-no for an Ilokano pinakbet to have a karabasa (only Tagalog 'pakbet' variations, with an awkward shrimp paste, has it)

This is it, once again, the by-product:

And this here is my own labay, pardon my gluttony, but this is pinakbet with lots of paria, so, let me just indulge:

And pardon, this is me not bragging about an Ilokano gourmet food but me inviting you to "mangantayon, apo, pagan-anusan ti adda!" let's eat, folks!


More, about pinakbet:

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dinengdeng a nasagpawan iti kappo (tahong)

Dinengdeng! Also known as inabraw. The staple dish of the Ilokanos to go with innapuy or steamed rice. A medley of vegetables, preferably green leafy veggies, boiled or blanched in bugguong (fish sauce/paste) broth. With or without a sagpaw (an add on of either fish or meat, grilled, fried, or dried).

Or with shellfish. Like kaggo (big brackish water clam). Or tahong (kappo, mussel).

Oh, this is a really different dinengdeng, a first time that I tried to add tahong in it:

Here, our beloved dinengdeng will comprise saluyot, squash flowers, and kabatiti (sponge gourd):

The veggies are ready:

Boil the bugguong essence in a minimal water, put in the kabatiti first, simmer, then put in the saluyot and squash flowers, steam briefly then put the mussels atop and steam quickly to cook:

And here’s it, my unusual dinengdeng, well, kind of. The tahong’s unique flavor and scent fused with the bugguong’s inherent aroma and the natural sweetness of the fresh veggies made this one dinengdeng phenomenal. And see, it’s gorgeous even, a colorful blend :

More dinengdengs:

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kilawen a bilis, raw herring/sardine

 Bilis is the local sardine/herring fish (family clupeidae) which is usually consumed raw or cooked in vinegar. I like it raw or kilawen (kinilaw). Fresh bilis is prized for its sweetish flesh and oily texture (which is common in sardine and herring fishes). I came upon a fresh bilis catch from Aparri (Cagayan) town and immediately prepared some for kinilaw.


Here's my video of the process:

I removed head and guts and washed the fish well. You can opt to fillet the fish (remove the fishbone) for a more presentable kinilaw. But for me, this time, I'm over-eager to consume it so I didn't remove the siit anymore--I'll just take care of it when I'll eat them one by one, hehehe! After washing the decapitated and gutted fish, tossed it in vinegar, minced onions and crushed and minced garlic and ginger, some salt (add cracked pepper if you like), and chilis fermented in vinegar. It's that simple. The vinegar will simply "cook" the bilis. Put in a freezer for some minutes if you want, for all the ingredients/spices to blend well with the fish flesh.


A close up of this heavenly delicacy. See the oily skin? Great texture. The flesh is so sweetishly sour and so delicious and sumptuous with its distinct sardiny smell that blesses the palate with the taste and aroma of the raw sea:

Perfect for pulutan and as an appetizer. Mangantayon! (Originally blogged December 2, 2009) 

Some comments from the original post:
 Marlene Says:
02 December 2009 at 2:05 pm e

Saan ko pay a naramanan to fresh fish. It looks like it’s safe. i would like to try some but where can i get it here in Vancouver, Canada

 Rey Says:
02 December 2009 at 4:47 pm e

Wow ang sarap, maalala ko while i was still in the Philippines, yan ang lagi naming ginagawa specially pag season sa isdang yan. i wish mayron din yan d2 sa Vancouver.

 Vicky Says:
03 December 2009 at 5:36 pm e

Tinagan na pay kanyami no dadakel ket Baranban, ibabad ti iloko suka, pamienta ken asin overnight kinabigatan ket iprito daytoy, talaga nga naimas daytoy.

In germany this kind of fish called Herring. They eat as kilawen too,With vinegar, lots of Onion, pepper and salt.When we eat ,take the tail and start the upper part of the fish ( w/out head and bone of course)

08 December 2009 at 8:11 am e

I don’t know if this is an original Ilocano dish. When I was in Italy, they were serving this kind of dish. Meron nga lang olive oil.

 Marlene Says:
08 December 2009 at 12:25 pm e

okey that is called herring here in vancouver. i see that fish pickled and looks tasty.

 rva Says:
08 December 2009 at 12:53 pm e

bilis is classified as a sardine fish and is under the family Clupeidae which also include herrings, shads, anchovies, etc. it might be a subspecies of the pacific herring (Clupea pallasii). another species is the atlantic herring.

anyway, herring is also traditionally eaten raw in the netherlands and in some other scandinavian countries.

see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herring and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clupeidae

 aurora lambino Says:
02 January 2010 at 2:28 pm e

Thank you for this blog. I truly enjoyed looking at all your post(s), specially the pictured ilokano dishes. My mother used to cook “all” these when we were growing up in Baguio (ie my mother is a migrant from Sto Domingo, Ilocos Sur). Have not mastered any of those featured.. I do a “quasi” job with frozen ingredients I find in the supermarket doing binug-goongan nga saluyot ken marunggay, when my 96 Year old mother craves for these.. Thanks again, I will try to find squash flowers in the summer. Definitely recommending it to my friends,


More kilawen nga ikan:

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kilawen a tirong: a picnic by the beach [repost]

Tirong is small saltwater fish. It's called bonnet mouth fish and is the ingredient in the popular bugguong (bagoong, fish sauce/paste) called bugguong a tirong. Tirong when fully grown (to its adult size) is called "dalagang bukid" and is great for sinigang and escabeche or simply as fried. And of course, the inevitable kilawen, freshly caught tirong eaten raw with the pristine saltiness and sweetness and succulence of the raw sea.

Kilawen a tirong.

Stopping by at Candon City on our way to a writer's convention in La Union, we decided to rest awhile and while away the thick and humid Ilocos summer heat and take a dip at the Ilocos Sur sea.

We went to a beach at Barangay Calungboyan and there we were lucky enough to come upon some fishermen who just came ashore in a rakit (balsa, bamboo raft) with their sea bounty.

There, the precious tirong, about 3 kilos of it, the only catch so far of the jolly Ilokano mangngalap (fisherman), besides a single pana-pana (sea urchin) and a baby kurita (octopus).

We bought all the tirong, of course, as we are so over-eager to have a taste of its freshness, its inviting deliciousness, its mouth-watering rawness...

We unanimously voted to have it as kilawen. No way should its freshness and succulence be wasted! And so we simply made it with available condiments. We poured vinegar on the tirong and it's done, it's that simple. With some salt and chili by the side.

You have to pick the tirong by hand, have some salt on it and eat it right on, have your mouth and palate some guilty pleasures. Its flesh is sweetish, a little bitter because of its intact entrails, briny with the natural taste of the raw sea. Eat it all, fishhead and fishbone, it's so small you can chew all its goodness.

And but of course, it's more palatable and with drinks, its inevitable partner. We've got a case of Red Horse Litro to down the great kilawen a tirong.

Ah! Goodness gracious, how refreshing and delectable life could be at the seashore. Life's a beach, indeed!

Drinkers. :-)

Calongbuyan Beach
Candon City, Ilocos Sur.