Sunday, March 20, 2011

KCC Challenge: Pinakbet

This month's KCC challenge is brought to us by Erika @ The Ivory Hut, and to embrace the beginning of Spring, this month's theme is: Vegetables.


This was a bit of a tough one for me. Growing, up I was quite the picky eater. On our trips to the Philippines, one of the first things my mom would have to do would be to buy cereal and milk for me and my brother for breakfast. When going to a Chinese restaurant, I would ONLY eat egg drop soup. I didn't like veggies. I didn't like to try new things.


All of the Filipino dishes that I've grown up loving were either meat, sweet, or starch-based... so I had to consult my mom for this challenge. She threw a couple of ideas in the air... but the one that stuck out most was Pinakbet. Pinakbet is a dish that originates from my mom's hometown in Ilocos Norte. It's a melange of vegetables; tomatoes, onions, bitter melon, okra, green beans, all cooked with garlic, ginger, and bagoong (shrimp paste) until shriveled. It's one of my mom's staple recipes... a dish that she either cooks, or brings home from the Filipino store.


I never wanted to try it because of one ingredient; bitter melon. It is a vegetable that even makes my dad, one of the most adventurous eaters I know, cringe. So if he didn't like it, how could I, a picky 10-or-so year old, have had even the slightest urge to try it?

Ampalayá / Bitter Melon

Now that I'm much older, I'm quite the opposite. I would much rather spend the time to make really delicious scrambled eggs for breakfast than pour myself a bowl of Lucky Charms. When going to a Chinese restaurant, I won't even waste my time on egg drop soup... I go directly for the Peking Duck (or something just as yummy). And I love veggies. I love to try new things.

Haricots Verts

So this is kind of my ode to how I've changed. It's a dish I've grown up with, but never ate. It's always been around, and now I am finally old enough to appreciate it... and it just so happens (as my mom just told me) that it was my Lolo's favorite dish.



2 tablespoons vegetable oil
250g pork belly, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon of ginger, minced
3 coeur de boeuf tomatoes (beefsteak tomatoes), diced
2 tablespoons shrimp paste
3/4 cup boiling water
1 ampalayá, or bitter melon, seeds removed and cut into bite-sized pieces
8 okra, tops and bottoms cut off, and cut into bite-sized pieces
150g haricots verts (green beans), tips removed
1 eggplant, diced
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large heavy-bottom pot, heat oil over medium-high heat and fry the pork until browned. Once browned, remove the pork and set aside.

In the same pot, saute garlic, onion, ginger and tomatoes until softened, about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan, boil water and add shrimp paste. Stir until dissolved.

Add the pork back into the pot of tomatoes, onions and garlic, and add the shrimp paste/water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add in the rest of the vegetables and cook until the vegetables are done, about 15 minutes.

Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with plain rice. Serves 4-6.

Kulinarya Cooking Club Members:

Kath –
Trisha –
Trissa –
Olive –
Caroline –
Ninette –
Asha –
Malou –
Cherrie –
Acdee –
Valerie –
Sheryl –
Divina –
Anna –
Dahlia –
Joy –
Maribel –
Jen –
Pia –
Malaka –
Mimi –
Erika –
Kat –
Lala –
Selfie –
Connie Veneracion -
Oggi -
Katrina -
Rochelle Ryan -
Marica –
Diona –
Rowena -
Theodore –
Gianna –
Mireille –
Marishka –
Annapet –
Boyet –
Adora –
Yaz –
Marvin –


  1. I love Pinakbet but never tried making it myself. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Your pictures are gorgeous.

  2. I was thinking of doing this classic vegetable dish but I'm glad that you did. Classics such as Pinakbet desserves to be at the center stage.

    Yeah it was the bitter melon that made me not eat pinakbet when I was little or even up to now haha.

  3. Pinakbet is one of my favorite vegetable dishes! And your version looks so the tomato :)

  4. A well done pinakbet is true comfort food. Everyone's mom or grandma has their own little secrets to making it, like not stirring the vegetables in the pot until they're done. Have never cooked pinakbet myself, but love to eat it!

  5. As a kid, I was the only one who was no enamored of bitter melon in my family. Sad to say, I'm still not crazy about the stuff. But I did actually like it once -- prepared by a restaurant that soaks the bitter melon in ice cold water first, which they say removes much of the bitterness. ;)

  6. Your pinakbet looks very pretty and yummy; I love the tomato photo.:)

  7. A great post Katrina! And thank goodness you've come around, so glad to know you now eat your veggies. ;) Plus you've managed to capture the beauty of all these humble vegetables.

  8. I never liked bitter melon growing up either, even though my parents seem to love it. But your dish sounds good, nice and fresh, and flavorful.

  9. Lovely pinakbet! Me too, when I was young I tend to frown on the humble bittermelon but my younger sister loves it. Now that am older, bittermelon and me has this mutual respect from each other..hehehehe! When it's presented in front of me, I don't have that "I'll die" expression anymore=)

  10. Hello,

    We've selected you as our Foodista Food Blog of the Day for this April 3, 2011! Your blog for Pinakbet will be featured on the Foodista homepage for 24 hours.

    Since you are now a part of the Foodista Featured Blogger of The Day Community, we've created a special badge for you to display proudly on your blog sidebar. I couldn't find your email on your blog to send you the access code for the special badge, but I want to make sure you get it if you are interested. Please send me an email and I'll send it right away.
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    Christine @ Foodista dot com