Stewed Eggplant, Okra, Ampalaya
with Salted Fish Sauce
Pinakbet, or Pakbet an Ilocano dish, is stewed vegetables of eggplant, bitter melon(ampalaya), okra and tomatoes and seasoned with bagoong isda or thick salted fish sauce.
My Ilocano friend says they cook Pinakbet by layering the veggies in a pot, with the longest cooking time at the bottom and just let it simmer(without stirring or mixing) right until the veggies are cooked.
This way, the ampalaya, okra and eggplants hold up their shapes.
For this recipe, I did the Filipino standard of sauteing wherein the garlic goes in the oil first until lightly browned, the onions are next until translucent, then the rest of the ingredients.
I say, Filipino standard of sauteing, (pag-gisa/guisado),because you will not find that process in other cookbooks.
In fact, Culinary books will teach you to saute the onions first and the garlic last so as not to burn it and ruin the dish.
Well, you go with what works for you.
(Note: The dish is shown on a plate rather than a bowl to present how the veggies are cut and to show that they're not overcooked and mushy.)
YOUR PINAKBET SHOPPING LIST:
- Eggplant (Talong)
- Bitter Melon(Ampalaya)
- Shrimp or Fish, Pork Shoulder
- Canned Broth
IN THE PANTRY:
- Thick Salted Fish Sauce
- Ground Black Pepper
- 2 pieces Ampalaya (Bitter Melon), cut into 2" length
- 2 pieces eggplant, cut into 2" length wedges
- 6-8 pieces okra, tops trimmed off or cut diagonally if longer than 2" length
- 2 pieces tomatoes, cut in wedges
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Bagoong Isda (Thick Salted Fish Sauce)
- 1 1/2 cup broth, shrimp, fish or pork
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil, for sauteing
PREPARATION TIME : 15 minutes
COOKING TIME : 25 minutes
1 Saute the garlic, onion and tomatoes. Add the pork and saute for a minute.
2 Turn the heat down and add the vegetables, layering them in the pan from the bottom in this order : ampalaya, okra, and eggplant.
3 Add the broth and bagoong. Cover, let it boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still firm.
4 Stir in the fish or shrimp. Season with ground pepper.
5 Serve with rice.
(Learn more about COOKING RICE, THE FILIPINO WAY.)
BENG'S COOKING TIPS
- Use bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) if the bagoong isda(thick salted shrimp paste) is not available. Or you can use Patis (Fish sauce) or regular sea salt if you want.
- The fish is added towards the end so it doesn't disintegrate in the dish. Likewise, I do the same with the shrimp so it doesn't get tough and rubbery.
- Add string beans or even squash if you want, but the ampalaya, okra and eggplants are your required vegetables for an authentic Pinakbet.
- If you have fried fish or pork leftovers from the day before, you can use them as long as they're not seasoned with overpowering flavors like chili or anise or sesame oil.
- You can use the canned or prepared broths found in the supermarket, or you can make a shrimp broth by pounding the shrimp shells(shrimp meat not included), boiling it in water, then straining it.
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