Pinakbet Ilocano Recipe: How To Make Easy To Cook Filipino Pakbet

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This simple pinakbet llocano recipe combines flavors and textures from a variety of vegetables with crispy bites of pork. The wonderful flavors come to life with “bagoong isda”, an iconic Filipino sauce making it an easy meal to whip up for lunch or dinner.

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What is Pinakbet?

Pinakbet Ilocano by Authentic Food Quest
Delicious pinakbet with vegetables and crispy pork

Pinakbet also called “Pakbet” is a Filipino traditional vegetable dish. It consists of local vegetables like bitter melon, squash, sweet potatoes, eggplants, okra, and green beans combined with crispy pork.

The distinctive flavors come to life with “bagoong isda”, an iconic Filipino salted fish sauce.

Colorful and visually attractive, it can be eaten by itself or accompanied with a little bit of rice.

In this pinakbet Ilocano recipe , we use fried pork belly known as bagnet for the protein. And the medley of vegetables includes squash, round eggplants, okra, string beans and bitter melon.

The original pinakbet recipe  uses “bagoong isda”, an anchovy sauce sold in jars.

RELATED: Filipino Food Guide: 15 Authentic Filipino Dishes You Want To Have

History of Pinakbet Ilocano Style

Ilocano Pinakbet by Authentic Food Quest
Colorful vegetables in pinakbet

Pinakbet originated in the region of Ilocos, but today it appears in many regional and seasonal varieties. 

The word pinakbet is derived from the Ilocano word pinakebbet, meaning “shrunk” or “shrivelled”.

This pakbet or pinakbet vegetable dish is more than a regional cuisine. It is a symbol of the Ilocano palate.

It pays homage to the proud llocano farmers who struggle with the physical environment and from their land produce a much loved heart warming dish.

The Ilocano way of cooking pinakbet uses fish bagoong sauce and not shrimp paste or bagoong alamang. 

The bagoong isda sauce is a thick fermented fish sauce typically made from a mix of anchovies and salt. It adds flavor to the dish which complements the vegetables and pork.

Typically, Filipinos pair pinakbet with fried fish and rice. 

Pinakbet Ilocano vs Pinakbet Tagalog

Pakbet Ilocano by Authentic Food Quest
Pakbet Ilocano at an Ilocos restaurant in the Philippines

As the popularity of pinakbet Ilocano grew, different versions started to emerge. Pinakbet Tagalog from Manila and the southern parts of the country also became popular.

While both are popular, they differ in a number of ways.

The Cooking Procedure

The original Ilocano pinakbet calls for cooking all the vegetables in a claypot, with water and seasonings. Everything cooks together until the vegetables have a shrunken appearance.

Cooking pinakbet Tagalog is a little more involved. It is not a one-step cooking approach. The recipe calls to first saute garlic with onions and then add the shrimp paste and vegetables.

The pinakbet ingredients

The Tagalogs and those from Pampanga love adding a lot of ingredients into their pinakbet. Chicharron, shrimps, squash, and other available ingredients are tossed in. 

The llocano style version is simpler. All that is needed are tomatoes, garlic, eggplants, long beans, okra, winged beans, and other local vegetables. 

Squash is not found in the original ilocano pakbet recipe, although it is commonly used and we have added it to this recipe.

Flavoring

The original Ilocano pinakbet uses traditional fish paste or bagoong isda for flavoring. 

Whereas the Tagalog pakbet recipe calls for shrimp paste or bagoong alamang. In some cases sugar is also added to the Tagalog version.

Discovering Pinakbet Ilocano in the Philippines

Discovering Pinakbet in The Philippines by Authentic Food Quest
Flavorful pinakbet quickly became one of our favorite dishes

The Ilocos region of the Philippines has one of the country’s strongest culinary traditions. 

In collaboration with the Philippines Tourism Board, we had the opportunity to visit the region and explore the regional specialties.

Pinakbet or pakbet, one of the Ilocos popular dishes, quickly became one of our favorite dishes. Everywhere we went we made it a point to have the mixed vegetable stew.

What we particularly enjoyed about eating pinakbet in Ilocos were the tasty flavors in the local vegetables. 

Baby bitter gourd or ampalaya, a new vegetable to us, had a sharp taste and loads of nutritional benefits.

The combination of flavors with fish bagoong isda sauce and the addition of pork and shrimp made pinakbet our go to meal.

This pinakbet Ilocano recipe is an easy vegetable dish to make at home. In this recipe we use fried pork belly or bagnet for crispy flavors and squash for additional substance.

RELATED: 10 Unique Ilocos Food To Delight On In The Philippines

Pinakbet Ilocano Recipe – How To Cook Pinakbet Ilocano

Ingredients Pinakbet locano Recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Ingredients for Pinakbet Ilocano

The combination of vegetables with pork and shrimp paste is what makes this dish so delicious and a true Filipino creation.

Simple to make at home, here are the ingredients for pakbet Ilocano.

Ingredients

  • Pork belly
  • Round eggplants
  • Bitter gourd
  • String beans
  • Squash
  • Okra
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic cloves
  • Ginger
  • Water
  • Anchovy Sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Pinakbet Ilocano Recipe Tips

Fermented Fish Sauce or Bagoong Isda Substitute

Aromatic and packed with flavor, bagoong is an indispensable condiment for pinakbet and Filipino cooking in general.

The bagoong adds flavour and depth to the dish. In the Philippines, pinakbet Ilocano is made traditionally using bagoong isda, a sauce made with fermented fish like anchovies.

You can order anchovy sauce online and enjoy the bold flavors of the hearty Ilocano style pinakbet.

Where to Find Pinakbet Vegetables

Vegetables for Ilocano Pinakbet Recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Chopping rounded eggplants for pinakbet recipe

You’ll find the ingredients for this pinakbet Ilocano recipe at Asian or Filipino supermarkets in your area.

Most of them will carry basic Filipino ingredients like bagoong, bitter gourd, small round eggplants and more.  

If you do not have access to an Asian market locally, you can order anchovy sauce and other items online.

Cooking Tips For Pinakbet Recipe Ilocano

Cooking Vegetables for Pinakbet Ilocano Recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Cooking vegetables for pinakbet dish
  • To ensure all the vegetables are cooked right, start by cooking the more hearty vegetables first. For example, start with the squash, then the okra, bitter melon, eggplant, string beans, tomato, onions, garlic and ginger. Cover with a lid to ensure even cooking.
  • If vegetables are more mature they will also take longer to cook.
  • To wash out the bitterness from the bitter gourd, soak the slices in salted water for 30 minutes before cooking. They will taste less bitter.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIP: Get all natural pork belly raised without hormones delivered to your home. Snake River Farm offers 100% Kurobuta pork from Berkshire, a heritage breed of pigs. For your pinakbet recipe, enjoy juicy and flavorful Kurobuta pork raised on small family farms. 

Pinakbet Ilocano Recipe – Step by Step How to Cook Pinakbet Instructions

Cook The Pork Belly

Start by boiling the pork belly with peppercorn for about 20 minutes. Once the pork belly has cooked and cooled down, prepare to fry it.

Heat oil in a frying pan and brown pork until crispy. Set aside and let it cook.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Pork sisig is another favorite Filipino dish made with pork belly. Check our Pork sisig recipe for an easy-to-make crunchy pork sisig specialty dish.

Cut Up Vegetables For Pinakbet

Chop up all the vegetables for the pakbet recipe. Aim to cut up the pieces into similar sizes to ensure everything cooks evenly.

As you cut up the bitter gourd, please be sure to remove the seeds as well.

Boil water in a pot and add the anchovy sauce. Add the vegetables, starting with the squash then the okra, bitter melon, eggplant, string beans, tomato, onions, garlic and ginger.

Cook The Pinakbet Ilocano

Once all the vegetables are in the pot, cover and lower heat to simmer for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are cooked.

Cut up the bagnet or fried pork into slices and add to the vegetable stew and serve. Pinakbet is a complete meal on its own or you can add it as a side dish to a serving of rice.

Plate of Pinakbet Ilocano by Authentic Food Quest

Pinakbet Ilocano Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This simple pinakbet llocano recipe combines flavors and textures from a variety of vegetables with crispy bites of pork. The wonderful flavors come to life with “bagoong isda”, an iconic Filipino sauce making it an easy meal to whip up for lunch or dinner.

Ingredients

  • 8 round eggplants
  • 2 small bitter gourd
  • 1 bundle of string beans
  • ⅔ cup or 100 gr squash
  • 8 pieces Okra
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 2 Onions
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 1 small piece of Ginger
  • Water
  • 1 lb or 450g of Pork Belly
  • ¼ cup anchovy sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

    For the Bagnet or Fried Pork Belly

    1. Place the pork belly in a deep pot and cover with water. Add the peppercorns and let it boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
    2. Remove the boiled pork belly from the pot and let it cool.
    3. Heat oil in a frying pan. Gently add the pork belly and deep fry on medium heat until the pork turns crispy.
    4. Remove the pork belly from the pan and let it cool down.
    5. Once cool, slice the pork bagnet into bite sized pieces and set aside.

    For the Pinakbet

    1. Cut the round eggplants in half and cut the tomatoes and onions in chunks.
    2. Crush the garlic and slice the ginger in thin slices. Set aside.
    3. In a large pot bring water to boil. Add the anchovy sauce and wait for it to boil one more time.
    4. Now, add the vegetables, starting with the squash then the okra, seedless bitter melon, eggplant, string beans, tomato, onions, garlic and ginger.
    5. Simmer for 15 minutes until the vegetables are cooked.
    6. Add the sliced bagnet and mix well.
    7. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy hot by itself or with a side of rice.

Notes

  • In the traditional Ilocano pinakbet recipe, squash is not typically included. It is generally used in the Tagalog pinakbet recipe. We have added it to this recipe as we enjoyed the squash when we had it in the Philippines. It makes for a heartier mixed vegetable stew, but is optional.
  • Pinakbet Ilocano is a full meal by itself. Although, you can also enjoy it with a side of steamed rice.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 904Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 886mgCarbohydrates: 130gFiber: 41gSugar: 52gProtein: 49g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information is generated by an online API and makes calculations based on serving sizes. These figures are only estimates and results may vary.

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14 comments

  1. This was quite delicious!!! I found it on Pinterest by accident and my partner and I tried it on Saturday night!
    We loved it!!! I don’t usually comment on recipes but this was so yum, I had to come back.

    Reply

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