Pinakbet is one of my favorites when it comes to vegetable dishes. It’s a mixture of stir-fried vegetables simmered in a rich flavor of pork, shrimp paste (bagoong alamang), and spices. If you want to taste the full potential of this dish then you need to use the key ingredient, the shrimp paste.
It gives it that final kick that I think it needs. For most western cultures this dish wouldn’t be a favorite, but for most Filipinos it’s a mouth-watering dish. For those who cannot eat shrimp paste, you may substitute it with fish sauce. The traditional version of this dish includes Okra, which I happen to dislike, so with that being said I omit it in this recipe. However, if your one of those who likes Okra, then by all means add it back to the recipe. You need to add Okra along with the rest of the veggies after the calabaza squash. So bring your appetite and let’s get cooking. Ingredients:
- 1 Lb. Pork belly or pork butt sliced in 1 x ½ inch strips
- 2 Cups of string beans (sitaw or sitao)
- 3 Cups of sliced Squash (calabaza)
- 2 Pcs. Small eggplant cut in halves & sliced diagonally
- 2 Pcs. Ampalaya (bitter melon/bitter gourd) cut in halves & sliced diagonally
- ¼ Cup of bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
- 1 Tbs. Soy sauce
- 1 Medium onion sliced thinly
- 1 Large tomato diced
- 4 Cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 Tsp. MSG
- 1 Tbs. Corn oil
- In a wok or large pan, add oil and brown pork belly on all sides.
- Push pork belly to one side of the wok, then add garlic, and sauté until golden brown.
- Next, add onions and allow it to cook until the onions hit that shiny stage.
- Add tomatoes, stir well, cover it, and let it cook for one-minute.
- Then, add calabaza squash and let it cook for three-minutes. Now add the rest of the veggies.
- Stir well, cover the wok, and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- After that, add soy sauce, ground black pepper, and bagoong (shrimp paste), replace the cover, and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove cover; check the calabaza squash for doneness by poking it with a toothpick.
- Once the calabaza squash is done, you may go ahead and adjust the taste by adding salt & pepper if needed.
- That’s it you’re done. Serve with white steamed rice. Enjoy!
Tips: Additional cooking time may be necessary if calabaza squash is not all the way cooked. Do not adjust the taste until this part is done.