Friday, June 15, 2012


Copyright 2012 Ltdan'sKitchen blogs
Pinakbet is a popular dish from the Northern region of the country. I learned to love this dish when I studied in Manila while hanging out with my friends one of whom hailed from Pangasinan where the dish hailed from. The funny thing about this dish is that it includes a couple of ingredients that I hated to eat growing up, namely the bitter gourd and okra. However, putting them all together in this one dish with other vegetables that I love really makes sense. It is definitely one of the wonders of culinary science as to why this dish is definitely very popular now all over the country.

Bitter Gourds
Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
This dish also uses squash and acorn squash is a prefect substitute to use for this dish. Bitter gourd is also a must but it is really an acquired taste. The vegetable packs a good amount of iron so it is very good if you have anemia but it does involve a bit of preparation. Once cut in half, the vegetable is cored and cut into the desired size. However, to remove some of the bitterness, you sprinkle it with salt and let it sit for about 30 minutes to release some of its juices. A quick wash with water and you are good to go. You can cook it as is but you must really be ready for the bitter taste that goes with it. 

I make this dish without any meat most of the time and is thus a wonderful vegetarian dish. However, it is a must for some where fish or shrimp paste be added as the final touch to the dish. You can actually do away with this step if you are like my Dad who is allergic to shrimp or fish paste. I myself have adapted to tolerating both in this dish but I'm still partial to shrimp paste. Either way you like it, I hope you give this dish a try. Incidentally, this dish is also referred to as our local version of ratatouille.


3 cup squash (peeled, cored and cubed)
2-3 bitter gourds, cored and cut into 1-inch slices
2 cups okra, trimmed and cut in half
3 cups eggplant, trimmed and cubed
3 cups string beans or green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp fish sauce, optional
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup shrimp or fish paste, optional
salt and pepper
4 cups chicken broth

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions
    and saute until softened. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the eggplant, squash and bitter gourd. Mix well and season with the
    fish sauce if using. Otherwise, season with salt. Add the broth and bring
    to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the
    squash is almost fully cooked.

3. Add the beans and the okra and simmer until the okra has softened and
    the beans are cooked to a crisp green. 

4. Check for flavor and adjust with the shrimp or fish paste if using.
    Otherwise, use salt. Serve immediately with steamed white rice. 

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