Pinakbet – Filipino Vegetable Stew
Pinakbet is a rustic vegetable stew that comes from the Northern Philippines. As a child, I hated it because it included so many vegetables and acquired flavours that even adults find hard to handle including bitter melon, okra and fermented shrimp paste (bagoong). Throughout my life, I have had many versions of this dish, but after a little thought and research, I think I have a version that I like. When you make this dish your own, you can adjust it to your taste.
You will need:
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 Chinese eggplant, quartered and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), cut into bite-sized pieces
- a handful of long bean, cut into 3 inch sections
- 1 bittermelon
- 2 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 4 teaspoons bagoong (*Filipino fermented shrimp paste)
- 1 cup water
- 6-8 oz leftover roast pork (lechon)
The first thing you need to do is prep the bittermelon and eggplant. To do that, all you need to do is cut the bittermelon in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and insides. Take a couple pinches of salt and sprinkle all over the inside of the bittermelon. Quarter and coarsely chop the eggplant and salt them as well. This will draw out excess moisture from the eggplant and the bitterness from the bittermelon, which can have a very overwhelming flavour if you don’t.
In a large pot, heat up some oil over medium heat and add 4 cloves of minced garlic. Stirfry til lightly golden, then add the eggplant and a chopped medium red onion. Continue to cook until the onion starts to turn transluscent and the eggplant begins to take on colour.
From there, add the rest of the veg in layers starting with a small kabocha, cut into bite-sized pieces, a handful of longbean cut into 3 inch pieces, the bittermelon, and a couple chopped tomatoes. Add about 4 teaspoons of the bagoong (Filipino shrimp paste) and about a cup (200ml) of water. Finally, add about 6-8 oz of leftover roast pork. Let the liquid come to a boil, cover the pot, turn the heat down to medium low and let simmer til the veg cooks down (about 10 minutes).
About halfway through cooking, give your pinakbet a good stir to combine the ingredients. Just be gentle so you don’t break up the kabocha.
Serve on top of freshly steamed rice and enjoy!
Is there a dish that you hated as a child that you enjoy as an adult?