The Ilocano summers I remember are a combination of heat, humidity, long baths, and an-often-forced daily siesta. But amidst this unbearable weather, my sister and I would still manage to enjoy the day.
Mangoes in large woven baskets would arrive in the morning, and they would be left to stew in the heat until they are carried elsewhere or are sold to one of the vendors in the marketplace nearby. Along with these very sweet mangoes that often tickle the curiosity of local flies, are a few baskets of vegetables from the farm. The harvest isn’t much but most of the time, the vegetables are enough to make the Ilocano vegetable dish Pinakbet.
I have watched my grandmother make this hundreds of times but my dad’s Pinakbet is the one that won this little glutton’s heart. I love my grandmother’s Pinakbet of course especially when she adds round scad to it but it’s not as good as dad’s Pinakbet drenched in tomato sauce and a good amount of oil from the local delicacy – bagnet or as we call it in Ilocos Norte, chicharon.
A good amount of tomatoes, around half a kilo
Fish paste (Bagoong)
Tomato Sauce 250 ml or more if you love tomato sauce
Bitter melon (Ampalaya)
Put everything in a large pot. Place on stove, low heat. Cook until veggies are shriveled.
Serve with rice and a chilled bottle of Basi Puro
Pinakbet goes well with fried fish