09 Feb2010


Pinakbet is one of my (possibly even THE) favorite pinoy vegetable dishes of all time. In a broadly answered and widely read poll on pinoy favorites, here, pinakbet ranked in the Top 5 dishes. The first time I cooked and blogged about it, I was trying to replicate a version that we used to enjoy at home when I was growing up, here. Apparently, that version with kalabasa or winter squash was a dead giveaway “non-Ilocano” style pinakbet. Kalabasa is added mostly by folks around Manila and the southern part of Luzon. I later tried pinakbet while on a whirlwind trip through the Ilocos region, and saw the produce in their markets, even bought a palayok or two, hoping to make my own “authentic” pinakbet. The result was Palayok Pinakbet a la Marketman, a fantastic version of this well-loved dish, and done about as close to the Ilocano version as possible. Having made it as close to the original as I am probably ever going to get, I figured I could now try other ways of cooking the dish, this time in a more practical wok which is probably far more accessible to readers than cooking in a palayok over a wood fire. :)


We eat pinakbet at home often. But I tend to rarely cook it myself. However, when the markets yield an inspiring bounty of greens, I usually head to the stove and take control of the dish at hand. Such was the case after a market visit last weekend that yielded a plethora of classic pinakbet ingredients. First off, some himbabau or alucon, earlier post on it here. It isn’t often you find this in manila markets so when I do, it almost always means a pinakbet is coming up, as I don’t know where else or how else to use this rather bizarre looking green.


The himbabau was beside a stunning pile of sam-samping, for me a recently discovered pea/bean like variation also used in Ilocano pinakbet. And earlier post on it here.


Keeping with the as close to “authentic theme” we also added some peeled, slightly over the hill malunggay pods, more on that here and here.


Of course you can’t leave out the visually arresting, wonderfully textured and subtle flavor of these squash blossoms.


Some authentic curly long green chilies, different from the lighter siling pangsigang more commonly found in the groceries. These don’t possess too much heat, so they complement the pinakbet nicely without overpowering it.


We also had these incredibly fresh young onions.


Baby ampalaya or bitter melons, this time cut and de-seeded rather than cooking them whole like in the Palayok Pinakbet version.


I also got some miniature or small whole eggplants, but in keeping with the size of the other vegetable cuts, I cut up the eggplants as well.


Some okra, sliced.


Those fantastic “native” tomatoes, sliced into wedges.


Some fresh ginger and some small cloves of Ilocos grown garlic.


Heat up a large wok, add some vegetable oil, saute the sliced ginger and onions for a minute or less over high heat until they release their incredible aroma…


…add some bagnet or meaty chicharon and the tomatoes and saute for a minute or less until the tomatoes start to render their liquid. Add the fish bagoong native to Ilocos for a truly authentic pinakbet, or in a pinch add several tablespoons of bagoong alamang (gasp, the Ilocanos will feign) and several tablespoons of water if it looks too dry.


Bagnet or lechon kawali or chunks of pork will hold up better than chicharon, which will absorb the liquids and get a little soggy… but don’t fret, the chicharon adds a tremendous dimension of fat and flavor.


Add the cut up veggies that tend to take longer to cook, give it a gentle stir or toss…


…pile on the other veggies that will cook a little faster and add a little water if there isn’t enough at the base of the pan…


…and season with salt and pepper and cover for a few minutes so it can all steam nicely.


Add the last veggies that take hardly any time to cook and toss lightly. Crumble some more chicharon and add it to the dish just as you are taking it off the flames.


The results were fantastic. You can see it rather clearly in the photos. The veggies are just cooked but not “lata” or overcooked. They stay distinct from each other. There is a variety of textures, colors, flavors, etc. This should be eaten immediately with lots of steamed or boiled rice. Veggie (and a little fat and shrimp) heaven. :)



  1. quiapo says:

    The challenge in cooking pinakbet is to have the vegetables just right in crispiness – (there should be a word for the balance between soggy and too raw!) and all at the same quality of texture.
    Use of the wok gives your more control in the process, and I will have to try your method.
    I find that adding salt and peper is superfluous because of the sili and bagoong., but a little bit of sugar makes a difference if I am not using kalabasa..
    Thank you for sharing this creative process.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 6:21 am


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  3. Ester says:

    My favorite pinakbet. I put cicharon on top of everything too… it’s good even with pancit bihon. Thanks for the post.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 6:26 am

  4. marilen says:

    Since I have already, visually, consumed 3 of the lechon sisig buns, may I please have a bowlful of hot steamy rice topped with double portion of pinakbet!! Salamat, MM!

    Feb 9, 2010 | 7:23 am

  5. doug says:

    Oh my God!!! To die for!

    Feb 9, 2010 | 8:03 am

  6. millet says:

    that looks very, very nice. i think pinoys tend to overcook vegetables, so this is proof that pinakbet need not be one mushy mess (as with most versions), and that the individual flavors and textures remain distinct. good job, MM! right now, am craving a huge bowl of this.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 8:03 am

  7. Ley says:

    Will definitely try to replicate this this Saturday. Thanks MM.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 8:37 am

  8. Fred says:

    Mmm… saw those ingredients at the local hypermart. now I know what to do with them. nice post MM!

    Feb 9, 2010 | 8:37 am

  9. thelma says:

    it’s time to cook pinakbet! i love this dish a lot especially cooked the ilocano way.
    mm, i will try your recipe with chicharon.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 8:44 am

  10. cecile says:

    hay another nakakagutom na ulam! sarap! :)

    Feb 9, 2010 | 8:47 am

  11. junb says:

    There goes your diet MM, with a statement Eat with lots of rice :)

    Feb 9, 2010 | 9:13 am

  12. Aileen says:

    Looks yummy! Btw, your wok is looking good. :)

    Feb 9, 2010 | 9:34 am

  13. Sabs says:

    I am in love with Pinakbet. While most kids couldn’t get enough of hotdog, I couldn’t get enough of my lola’s Pinakbet. She still makes the best pinakbet I’ve ever tasted (and objectively, I don’t think it’s just because she’s my lola!). I grew up with my grandparents who are charmingly passionate about this dish; I am delighted that you are the only other person I know who acknowledges that it’s not genuine Ilocano Pinakbet if it has kalabasa! :D

    Feb 9, 2010 | 11:17 am

  14. uniok says:

    wow !! kompletos recados…Genius………

    Feb 9, 2010 | 12:09 pm

  15. barefoot_too says:

    Finally! A non-ilocano who cooks pinakbet the ilocano way! I’ve always told non-ilocos buddies that real pakbet doesnt have kalabasa, over and over again until Im hoarse. To no avail. So now, I hope they will finally see the light of day.
    Some things missing though, patani (which is flooding the markets now), bataw, sigarilyas, and cubed kamote (to make the sauce -what little there is- sweeter).
    I have a good recipe for bunga ng malunggay if you’d like. Its second only to pinakbet and surpasses dinengdeng, for me.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 2:46 pm

  16. Jojo Vicencio says:

    Must have tried cooking it quite a few times but never close how my mom does it. But this looks like an excellent project to follow again.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 3:15 pm

  17. emsy says:

    I think any vegetable dish with a little pork and bagoong will taste wonderful, especially if the vegetables are perfectly cooked and not mushy. yum!

    Feb 9, 2010 | 3:24 pm

  18. Bubut says:

    we call this at home Bahay kubo because of the various veggies and the one cooked in pot just like the Ilocanos is the pinakbet.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 4:21 pm

  19. Teresa says:

    LOVE pinakbet MM!! i wonder why your version is stir-fried. The Pinakbet of Cagayan Valley, which is also home to Ilocano clans, is not at all stir-fried. My mother -in-law cooks this by adding ingedients one on top of the other, the harder to cook veggies at the bottom of the pile. No liquid is added except for pork fat rendered oil. Bagnet along with fresh pasayan goes into the pot. This calls for RICE!!

    Feb 9, 2010 | 5:09 pm

  20. Teresa says:

    BTW MM. Where did you find the chili? These make thePinakbet taste beautiful. Where to buy these here in Manila?

    Feb 9, 2010 | 5:12 pm

  21. Jack Hammer says:

    Being a 75% Vegetarian by Choice, My First Dish of Choice Filipino Veggie Dishes, second being Fish Sinigang.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 5:13 pm

  22. Footloose says:

    My friends from the Ilocos region are not too obsessed with authenticity. I observe that their versions varied with what was available from their garden, or that of their neighbors, friends and relatives. Come to think of it, that was how most cooking was done before the advent of reliable refrigeration and quick transportation. And they were not hesitant either in using calabasa which adds sweetness, mealy fluffiness and brighter color and flavor than cubed camote. Neither do they look askance at using frozen lima beans and okra when those are the only ones obtainable. And I agree, a dish that you cook often is much better than an authentic one that you hardly ever prepare due to lack of quorum in ingredients.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 5:26 pm

  23. Marketman says:

    Teresa, click on the links to the palayok version to understand I have done the classic as authentic as it gets pinakbet before. This version is for those you don’t want to futz with a palayok and a wood fire. It’s nice the purely authentic way, but most won’t bother. If your mother-in-law does not use a palayok and a wood fire, she has strayed from the “most authentic” version as well. :)

    Feb 9, 2010 | 5:36 pm

  24. Gaye N. says:

    Yumm!!! I just had pinakbet with the same ingredients the other day. Nothing beats authentic Ilocano pinakbet. Have you tried putting “bagbagkong” (sorry, I don’t know the Tagalog or English name of this blossom)? =)

    Feb 9, 2010 | 6:07 pm

  25. Lissa says:

    Hi MM! I’ve never come across pinakbet that had the first 4 vegetables you listed above. What does the himbabau taste like?

    Feb 9, 2010 | 6:42 pm

  26. atbnorge says:

    It’s so nice to see alucon again even only on pictures. It was my Ilocana maternal grandmother who made dishes with that ingredient.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 6:48 pm

  27. jannah says:

    I love pinakbet. Long time that I havent seen / tasted himbabao, my dad used put it in his pinakbet cooked Ilocano style … no kalabasa and with only bagoong na isda with inihaw an isda as sahog. But I cooked it ginisa style with any vegetables I can find here.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 7:29 pm

  28. Tok says:

    3 weeks more makakatikim na ako ng Pinakbet with pork…hehehe! love this post MM.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 9:11 pm

  29. Tok says:

    @teresa, madam kahit saang supermarket po meron chili ni MM.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 9:30 pm

  30. macpower says:

    Dear MM, I used to eat pinakbet during my childhood to high school days. However, when I got to college, I became allergic to bagoong|alamang.

    Since then, for almost 15 years now, I crave for the taste and the joy of a good home-made pinakbet. And to think that my mom is an Ilokana (from Isabela) and she does cook a mean pinakbet when we visit them on Sundays.

    My question – is there a close substitute to bagoong|alamang for pinakbet. Our cook has been trying to replace it with “patis” – but it does not come close if bagoong is used. Need help. Thanks.

    Feb 9, 2010 | 10:26 pm

  31. Vanessa says:

    Beautiful onions! I am inspired now to try to prepare this in the dead of winter.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 12:15 am

  32. Vicky Go says:

    I can eat veggies all week if cooked like this! Delicioso!!!

    Feb 10, 2010 | 12:17 am

  33. Connie C says:

    macpower: Have you tried the fish bagoong (anchovy) or are you allergic to that too?

    Feb 10, 2010 | 12:24 am

  34. Lou says:

    What else to do with alucon? I love it in dinendeng or there is a dinengdeng dish the Ilocanos call “baradibud”. It has mashed sweet potatoes not too much, then add some veggies like the malunggay pods or the kumpitis (or what you call samsampin), calabasa flowers and the alucon. Top it with some grilled or fried fish.

    Ilocanos don’t put ground pepper in pinakbet.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 12:41 am

  35. quiapo says:

    Macpower – does your allergy include salted anchovies? It has a more fino taste, and if you can get it in large jars, not that expensive, with several varieties available, including those soaked in olive oil, with or without sili.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 1:22 am

  36. Elizabeth J says:

    I love your wok-version of cooking pinakbet especially since we cannot find palayok around here. Plus, I like the fact that the vegetables are not wilted and too soft, like most prepared pinakbets found here. Thanks to your step by step pictures, I will attempt to cook this for the first time.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 3:32 am

  37. farida says:

    Yummy, MM. I have not cooked pinakbet the authentic way. But this sure looks good. Drinking diet Pepsi, out of diet Coke, while feasting on the pictures. >).

    Feb 10, 2010 | 6:17 am

  38. linda says:

    MM,would you or any of your readers happen to know if we can eat the talbos of the upo plant? Thanks!
    I’ll be cooking your pinakbet this friday when we have our girls only get-together.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 7:33 am

  39. moni says:

    MM, have you tried cooking your pinakbet with ginamos (bagoong alamang) from Iloilo? If you’re not allergic to shrimps, it will definitely bring the non-Ilocano pinakbet several notches higher in taste. Lami jud ang bagoong alamang from Iloilo. These are pounded fermented shrimp fry. I usually buy this in Central Market in Iloilo and it’s sold by the kilo which can be frozen to extend its shelf life for many months.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 8:29 am

  40. jdawgg says:

    Hello Marketman,
    Good job on the pinakbet. I’d say you’re close but, no cigar to you my friend. Reason being is I do not remember my great grandma using fermented shrimp or bagoong alamang instead she use the bagoong isda, bagoong balayan or the monamon. Your version of pinakbet is still somewhat i call pinakbet tagalog. Also the ilocano version is not sauteed, instead it’s rather steam or boiled with little water and the sauce of bagoong isda :>) Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 12:16 pm

  41. Katrina says:

    Hi MM, great post…I miss pinakbet (with Kalabasa, please-tubong Laguna po.) Once I get my hands on some alamang, I’ll definitely give this one a try.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 12:35 pm

  42. uniok says:

    I like his version, He uses alamang pero as long as malalasahan mo yung pork. My lola use to cook hardcore pinakbet and I like it. Sometimes mangangati ng labi mo kasi sa bagoong. I think MM has find a way to introduce pinakbet to a higher level. This I compare to my style of cooking of chopsuey. I copied the style of Maxx restaurant.hehehhe I used Chicken corn soup, just a bit to thicken the sauce. Its nice not the usual tagalog chopsuey.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 1:18 pm

  43. Marketman says:

    jdawgg, click on the palayok pinakbet and you’ll see that I have already featured a bagoong isda and bagnet version. Hence the introduction to this less authentic but more accessible version. And it was made in a palayok and only jostled to mix.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 1:30 pm

  44. wil-b says:

    whatever version of pinakbet there is. . . it’s always satisfying yummm. . . :)

    Feb 10, 2010 | 2:31 pm

  45. jdawgg says:

    Hello Marketman,
    I’ve must have missed that version, my sincere apology to you and all of the reader of this site. I’ll be always a fan of yours sir and keep up the good work. Perhaps I should make a point of making your site be the very first site that I should surf at, before my email ha, ha, LOL marketman. Seriously after I open my email, your site is the very first next thing that I open up on my technology superhighway and I mean that like religiously. You ROCK Dude. Yo my HERO.

    Thanks Always,


    Feb 10, 2010 | 2:40 pm

  46. jdawgg says:

    Know What?,

    You’re right, I’ve even made a comment on that version DUH!!! Like a Dumb A**. Sorry Dawgg.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 2:52 pm

  47. Marketman says:

    jdawgg, no problem at all. :) With so much on the net, it’s easy to forget. I always do. :)

    Feb 10, 2010 | 3:09 pm

  48. Cecilia says:

    I actually cook pinakbet sometimes in this similar fashion, but alas, with the kalabasa … I love how you beautifully photographed each ingredient and step. Thank you.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 4:49 pm

  49. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Pinakbet,dinengdeng—always good to eat—yumm–we took a trip to the Ilocos and our hosts treated us with home cooked pinakbet and dinengdeng-so good….so healthy with all those veggies….yumm MM….

    Feb 10, 2010 | 4:51 pm

  50. Jack Hammer says:

    My Ultimate Kalabasa recipe….down to earth…Grated Coconut, Grated Ginger and Chilli, sauteed with Chopped Onions and the Kalabasa simmered with minimal chicken or pork broth on a slow fire till done, ofcourse Bagoong Alamang to complete the taste.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 6:21 pm

  51. Marketman says:

    macpower, you might try it with fish bagoong rather than bagoong alamang. Alternatively, another reader has suggested using shredded grilled fish meat, I guess with some patis as well. as for the alucon/himbabau, it is more a texture thing than taste I think, it seems to absorb the other flavors from the bagoong, etc. rather than standing out on its own…

    Feb 10, 2010 | 6:58 pm

  52. Nanna says:

    Yum, pinakbet! My way of making pinakbet yummier, porkier cholesterol-laden: pour a tbsp. of pork fat (or cooking oil used to fry pork, or fat from adobo) over the pakbet, eat with rice.

    Feb 10, 2010 | 8:37 pm

  53. clarissa says:

    wow, lotsa pictures!! i like! thanks MM ! :P

    Feb 10, 2010 | 11:32 pm

  54. thelma says:

    mm, i cooked pinakbet last night adding blachan instead of the shrimp bagoong. it
    tasted so good.

    Feb 11, 2010 | 1:16 am

  55. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    I could almost hear and smell the pinakbet cooking in those pics!

    Feb 11, 2010 | 2:40 am

  56. millet says:

    moni, yes, that “dry” bagoong from iloilo’s central market is a must-buy everytime i’m there. they way it’s displayed makes it look like mud volcanoes. when i saute it, it needs a lot of oil and water to reconstitute, but it is the best bagoong alamang ever!

    has anyone tried “patis bicol”? it’s called patis, but it’s actually more of a slightly thinner, strained bagoong isda. perfect pair with anything sinigang!

    Feb 11, 2010 | 9:12 am

  57. calorie-shmalorie says:

    connie C and quiapo are spot on. salted anchovies do make a great substitute for the bagoong!

    Feb 11, 2010 | 11:31 am

  58. moni says:

    millet, I haven’t tried “patis bicol”?. If we squeeze calamansi on it, it should be a perfect sawsawan for sinugba. Where is it available?

    Feb 11, 2010 | 12:44 pm

  59. Anna says:

    I might be the only one commenting who’s not a fan of the dish. O_o I sometimes get allergies from bagoong.

    Feb 11, 2010 | 2:48 pm

  60. Rowi says:

    Pinakbet for me is the very essence of the Pinoy soul, a lovely mixture of all good things. It’s ratatouille with chutzpah.

    MM, your photos are just too enticing – I could really smell the garlicky-bagoong-bagnet-chicharon aroma! Yummy!

    I bought this “dry bagoong” from Iloilo called guinamos at the Salcedo market last time I was there. Thanks for the info on this Moni and suggestions on how to best use it from Millet. I have forgotten to freeze it though and it’s been in the ref for about 2 months now (and have not seen it since then : ( I’m hoping with it’s high salt content that it will still be okay.

    Feb 11, 2010 | 7:04 pm

  61. cheezee says:

    I commend you on this authentic recipe! I loathe the Manila-style pinakbet. Most of the people in Manila think that THAT is the only kind of pinakbet. I think the calabasa (sometimes, camote) sucks in most of the bagoong, and makes the dish too starchy.

    Since I don’t eat pork, my dad thoughtfully cooks it with grilled hito/dalag/bangus instead. And we have patani and sigarilyas, too.

    I love that your veggies are not overly done. That’s challenging, and I’ll be up to the challenge one of these days. Good post!

    Feb 11, 2010 | 7:29 pm

  62. Paul says:

    Try adding sweet potatoes on your pinakbet… The sweetness of the sweet potato will blend really well with the saltiness of the bagoong.

    Feb 11, 2010 | 11:04 pm

  63. Edwin says:

    I usually don’t use ginger in pinakbet but from this point on, I will. Love the crispiness of fresh veggies in Pinakbet.

    Feb 12, 2010 | 11:10 am

  64. Marketman says:

    Edwin, don’t add too much ginger, just enough to lend its fragrance/aroma. And make the slices big so they can be removed or they are obviously ginger and folks don’t bite into them.

    Feb 12, 2010 | 2:09 pm

  65. Lee says:

    gutom na ako

    Feb 12, 2010 | 7:04 pm

  66. niceyfemme says:

    Hello MM your wok is gorgeous, congratulations! Your wok is the cast iron type right? I have a carbon steel at home and it look different from yours. I’m thinking of getting one like yours but the locals in Singapore doesn’t seem to know the different types. They just say they bought theirs from the market whenever I ask. Their poor english, my bad mandarin. :(

    Feb 15, 2010 | 12:04 pm

  67. rochelle says:

    it’s looks good. by being an ilokana myself and living away from my roots, you have to do what you have to do just to get by with pinakbet. i mixed every vegetable i can find in fresh produce market and make it as authentic as i can.

    Feb 18, 2010 | 2:41 am

  68. jose says:

    pinakbet si good! pinakbetmy lunch today

    Feb 18, 2010 | 8:57 am

  69. Jasmin says:

    And for that ESB (extra special bitter) flavor Ilocanos crave, add ampalaya leaves (and saluyot if it’s around)! Maybe that’s more a dinengdeng thing though.

    Feb 18, 2010 | 9:50 am

  70. nancy, tennessee says:

    I grew up in the ilocos sur provice. I am used to pinakbet and dinengdeng. I’ve always liked these two dishes with grilled fish or pork. I hope more people will eat vegetables…

    Feb 18, 2010 | 11:28 pm

  71. Lilia says:

    Hi, where did you buy the squash blossoms? I usually do my groceries in the Landmark and they don’t sell that ingredient there. Can you help me? I would really love to do this recipe.

    Feb 21, 2010 | 11:45 pm

  72. Marketman says:

    Lilia, go to a market. Squash blossoms are readily available. FTI weekend market, Salcedo market, Guadalupe, Farmer’s Lung Center all have them. Vegetable selections at groceries are usually pretty appalling.

    Feb 22, 2010 | 7:15 am

  73. jm says:

    i love pinakbet very much. where i grew up, my lola use gabi to thicken the sauce of the pakbet. in a “kaldero” boil pork til tender then let it fry til it starts to brown. add garlic and onions and ginger, then tomatoes. traditionally we dont use ladle to mix them but instead we toss the kaldero. let the tomatoes cook til it starts to become paste then add gabi and bagoong isda… mash some of the gabi then add some pork stock but not to much just enough even when we add all the veg. add the tougher veggies then the softer vegies after awhile… just toss the kaldero now and then so the food wont stick inside the kaldero. as an ilocano we prefer our pakbet with a little bitterness from the native amplaya. young native ampalaya cut into halves with the seed still in it.( seeds should still be tender ) i also love the malunggay. sigarilyas. pakbet as i recall in ilocano means overcooked veggies.. me i like it a bit overcooked but not too much….. serve best with fried or grilled tilapia and/or liempo

    Mar 15, 2010 | 10:41 pm

  74. jm says:

    @ edwin. you could try mincing the arling so it wont be visible when you eat it

    Mar 15, 2010 | 10:43 pm

  75. Czarian says:

    hindi luto ung squash flowers at di natanggal ung mga sepals niya (green protruding part below the petals)..dapat parang withered un kc masyadong malakas ung scent niya pag kinain ng hilaw just like in the pics “nasabeng” in ilocano..(or baka di pa finished ung nasa last pic?)

    Jan 15, 2011 | 9:22 pm

  76. carolyn says:

    have you heard of the DINENGDENG FESTIVAL in agoo la union?where 101 ways of cooking dinengdeng is the main attraction every town fiesta ( may 1 )..jessica soho who hails from this town has featured the festival on her show sometime ago.

    Jan 20, 2011 | 5:41 pm


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