Friday, October 14, 2011

What's Cooking?: Pinakbet (Filipino Pork and Vegetable Stew)

The first thing I ate when I was home on Kauai was Filipino food.  One of my favorite Filipino dishes is Pinakbet.  It's a pork vegetable stew.  My mom used to make Pinakbet but because I never liked the bittermelon, she would make me a separate pot without it.  She would even make extra, freeze it and I would take it with me back to Oregon when I was in college.  

I never learned how to make this dish from my mom.  When she passed away, so did her recipe.  This is my first time attempting to make Pinakbet.  It turned out almost as good as mom's.  I've grown somewhat accustomed to the taste of bittermelon since then.  It's an acquired taste because it's bitter.  

Pinakbet contains vegetables such as eggplant, long bean and bittermelon.  The trick to this dish is to layer the vegetables and resist stirring them around.  If you stir the pot too much, the bittermelon becomes very bitter.

Bagoong isda is salted anchovy paste and bagoong alamang is salted shrimp paste.  Both are Filipino products and can normally be found at specialty Asian markets.  

Pinakbet (Filipino Pork and Vegetable Stew)

1/2 lb. pork, sliced
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 inch piece ginger, sliced
6 tomatoes, chopped (I used 4 Roma and 2 slicing tomatoes)
2 medium bittermelon, deseeded and sliced
2 medium Japanese or Chinese eggplant, sliced
2 c. long beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 c. fresh or frozen okra
1 and 1/2 c. water
4 Tbsp. bagoong isda or bagoong alamang
salt and pepper 

1) In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Cook pork until it is browned.

2) Add garlic, onions, ginger and tomatoes.  Saute for a few minutes until the tomatoes are wilted.

3) Add the bittermelon, eggplant, long beans and okra in layers.

4) Add water and bagoong to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover pot.  Cook until the vegetables are tender.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir gently to blend.