Archive for the ‘ilocano recipe’ Category

>Sinigang na Tilapia (Ilocano Style)

>Today, I finished my presentation (my second mid-term presentation, actually). This is one of the reasons why I have ignored blogging and the kitchen for quite a while. I needed to meet my deadlines for my dissertation. However, as it turned out, no matter how on time I was or I am, some things just don`t ever turn out the way others expect them to be. To make a long story short, I won`t be graduating till September. But I am glad that today`s presentation is over. I went home with a big headache and a growling stomach and immediately made macaroni fruit salad and gobbled left over tocino. To further “celebrate” this event, is a blog post.

When I went home (Philippines) last October, a Tilapia vendor would always drop by our house every other day to entice us with his freshly caught tilapia or mudfish. We would almost always buy thus our refrigerator or our dining table is never without a tilapia. At 100 pesos per kilo (about 4-6 pieces), compared to the 100 pesos a piece here in Japan, I didn`t mind seeing tilapia everyday.

There was a week however, when we had a steady supply of the fish from Solsona, my mother`s hometown and my birthplace. My cousins built a fishpond, let the rain and clean stream ran through it and filled it with a lot of tilapia fingerlings. There were so many fish that even with a simple stick and a tiny bait, in less than a blink and voila, you`ve got yourself a meal!

There are a lot of ways to cook tilapia so you won`t ever get tired of seeing it always on your plate, but I won`t go into all the 101 ways. I would just like to share the way the Ilocanos (or at least, my side of the family) cook their “tilapia sinigang” . Sinigang is the Filipino sour soup or stew. Usually, tamarind is used to come up with that distinct sourness, although some other fruits such as guava, calamansi or kamias (Averrhoa bilimbi) may also be used.

Here though, the only ingredients used were tomatoes, onion, and salt. It is a very simple dish really. It only takes boiling water, dropping the tomatoes (sliced, of course) and onion and then the fish and add some salt and/pepper to taste. The broth is not as sour as the normal sinigang but it has the delicious taste of fish in it, especially if the fish is fresh. With this way of cooking tilapia, one can easily tell whether the fish used in the dish is fresh or frozen.Mangantayon!


>Twas` a Hiatus (Inihaw, Inabraw and Kamote Leaf-Banana Salad)

>For so many reasons (which, I will slowly disclose with every post from hereon), I let my blog go on a hiatus. Well, let me correct that, for a time ( more or less, 3 months), I didn’t even want to stay in the kitchen, nor cook anything. My hard drive though, is full of food pictures. So as a comeback, I will be sharing some of the foods that I got to enjoy when I went home to the Philippines for a short vacation. Yep, that is one of the reasons. Went home and put food-blogging at the back of my mind (writing that is, not the food).

First feature is that sumptuous lunch prepared by Manang Perla, my brother-in-law Boyet and my sister Peng. We were supposed to go to the beach that day but there was no available transportation and the weather didn’t look so promising, so instead, Boyet cooked one of his specialties (the one he always cooks whenever we go home for vacation), Inihaw Galore!

The Ihaw (grill) part is not a very hard thing to do but when the fishes and sea food came together with the side dishes which were grilled eggplant (torta) and green mangoes with tomatoes and fresh spring onions with a bit of fish sauce, my, my, it is one mouth-watering dish!
We ate outside at Mama`s garden and Manang Perla came out with her delicious Inabraw which consisted of string beans, squash flowers and malunggay (horseradish tree) leaves.
In addition, she and my sister made a combination of banana flower (or heart, we call it “puso ng saging”) and sweet potato leaves salad. This one is not a mystery either. Just boil the leaves and add minced ginger and tomatoes in fish sauce. The banana flowers and potato leaves were boiled separately though. We usually rub salt to the banana flowers before boiling to remove some bitterness that come from its juice and then you have to squeeze the flowers after boiling too.
Now, that, plus eating with your hands plus a glass of cold soda on a not-so-hot day with your family is what I call a real good time!
So what made me decide to write a blog today despite the things waiting to be done on my to-do list? It is freaking cold! I need something to remind me of summer.

>Inabraw or Dinengdeng

We called home today and they told us they were having frogs for lunch. A local delicacy. Since I have no way of getting hold of the same today, I decided to cook something close (not to frogs but to home, that is.). What`s more traditional Ilocano cooking than INABRAW? So timely because yesterday I spotted a lot of jute at the supermarket. If only there were malunggay but I guess I have to be thankful that at least familiar veggies were there.

Inabraw is also called dinengdeng and it usually contains a mixture of veggies in a bagoong (salted/fermented bonnet mouth fish or the shiokara 塩辛) soup base. It is different from pinakbet in that, inabraw is more soupy, less veggies and usually do not have tomatoes. Ilocanoes are voracious vegetable eaters and most of the combinations of vegetables in inabraw are those that can be found in one`s backyard. Perhaps this is one reason why Ilocanos are thought to be thrifty to the point of stinginess because most never have to go to the market to buy food because they can have a proper meal with just the leaves and fruits from their backyards.
Most common combination is malunggay (or leaves from the horseradish tree or Moringa oleifera) and jute or saluyot (moloheya or Corchorus sp.). I sometimes think that an Inabraw with only malunggay and jute in bagoong is the basic Inabraw. Some say one is not an Ilocano if they don`t have at least one horseradish tree in their yard. Jute on the other hand, grows just about anywhere and during rainy season, they just come out.
Cooking inabraw consists only of boiling water then adding the bagoong and then the veggies. Here are tips though that my parents especially my father taught us to make sure that the inabraw will come out appetizing and delicious. Other people may have different ways of preparing but this one works for me and my family.
1. Do not put too much water or else it will come out too soupy or what he terms as bumiraw biraw. It is not so appetizing to see all the veggies drowning in the soup base plus the excess water will dilute the taste from the veggies.
2. Put minimal bagoong. Although it is in a bagoong soup base, putting too much of bagoong will make it too salty. For a recipe for a family of 6, we usually just use about 1 tablespoon or lesser.
4. Put veggies which are hard to cook, first, and the leaves last. For example, in the above inabraw, I put the bitter gourd, then the eggplant and the jute leaves last. (by the way, the combination of the bitter gourd and jute is good because the sweetness from the jute contrasted with the bitterness of the gourd and the result is really so good!).
3. Never overcook the veggies. My father always stressed on maintaining the color of the veggies especially the green leafy ones. So, do not wait for the veggies to cook before you put in the next one. It is all about timing.
4. Boil a bit of ginger in the water before putting the bagoong. My mom taught me this. It adds flavor.
5. Add fried fish or pork or leftover pork adobo into the soup to have a little meaty taste.
6. If you do it right, you will never have the need to add msg or additional salt.
Now the only thing that I have to figure is how to cook inabraw without ever using bagoong. Rad wants it that way, but then it won`t be inabraw anymore. A bit of warning though, eating inabraw is an acquired thing. Oh well, mangantayon!

>Pinakbet — Ilocano Style



The Pinakbet is from the Ilocano word “pinakebbet” meaning “to shrivel” or “shrunk”. It is a popular dish from the northern part of the Philippines which has become as popular in other places as well and with their own version. This version is what my parents taught me.

You can use just about any vegetable in it but the the most commonly used are string beans, bitter gourd, eggplant, okra, winged bean, chili peppers, winged beans, alukon (Aleanthus luzonicus), and malunggay fruits (seed and pulp). When we arrived from our trip, somebody left a bag full of veggies at our door. I was so happy to find chilli peppers, string beans and eggplants. String bean is not easy to find from these parts so I immediately told Rad to buy additional veggies to make pinakbet.

There are many versions on how to cook pinakbet. Some prefer to sautee the veggies but my parents said that the real pinakbet is to put it all together and to just let it simmer till the veggies shrink.

string beans (about 8-10 strings) cut into 2-in length
1 eggplant, sliced
1/2 bitter gourd (I bought a big long one. We usually use the tiny round ones in Ilocos)
5 okra
5 chili peppers
2 big tomatoes, pulped, or cut
2 tsp bagoong (we have the shiokara (塩辛) here. it is milder than the normal Ilocano bagoong)
1/4 ginger, julliened or just cut

Put all ingredients in a pot. You can dilute the bagoong in water but make sure that there won`t be too much liquid to simmer the mixture in. I always see to it that the total liquid won`t exceed half of the height of the mixed veggies. My mom always said to put a bit of salt in the tomatoes and mash and squeeze with your hands to get the juice out.
Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes or less. See if the veggies have been cooked enough. Add salt to taste. If you have to mix the veggies, mix them before cooking it. Don`t mix it while it is simmering, it will bring out the bitterness of the gourd. If you have to, then just toss it holding on to the handle of the pot. With the lid on of course.

I added some pork slices which I fried in its own fat beforehand. You can also put in fried fish or grilled fish or shrimps.And of course, the best would be to put in bits of chicharon or bagnet.

I don`t use MSG in my cooking but some prefer to put a dash of it in.

In the Tagalog version of Pinakbet, slices of kalabasa or squash are added.

Note: The photo above is the uncooked version, with Rad`s watermark and not the usual “mangantayon” mark. Cook it then, mangantayon!

>An Ilocano Dish on a Rainy Night

It has been raining all week in Shizuoka. Kinda reminds me of typhoon season in the Philippines, in Ilocos, which, by the way, was just ravaged by the recent typhoon. At home, while the patter of the rain lulls everyone to sleep, our stomachs automatically churn and get ready for the traditional Ilocano rainy day dinner or lunch — monggo inabraw – that`s mungbean cooked in bagoong (fish paste) soup base. It is the Ilocano version of stew.

Inabraw Ingredients:
  • about 4-5 handfuls of monggo/mung beans (whole or ground)
  • bagoong or fish paste (katsuo shokara – かつお塩辛)
  • garlic
  • onion
  • vegetable oil
  • some veggies or greens (spinach, sliced eggplant, etc.)
  • shrimp cubes

Soak the mung beans for at least an hour to loosen the seed coat. Soaking will reduce the length of time of boiling the beans to rid of their seed coats. Removing the seed coat is basically just straining the seeds off the mixture since they will automatically float. You can opt not to soak but you have to boil it for a long time (perhaps more than 45 minutes) then remove the seed coats while it boils.

Once the seed coat is removed, boil the beans till they are soft or till they practically disintegrates (you won`t see whole beans). Then add 3-4 teaspoon of fishpaste, depending on how salty you`d like it to be. The Japanese fish paste is less salty. If you use the true-blue Iluko Bagoong a tablespoon is enough. Boil further till the taste of the fish paste has sank in. I like to put 1 Knorr shrimp cube into the mix for added flavor.

In a separate skillet, put oil, saute garlic and onion till the onion is golden but not burned. If you want to put in some meat or fish, this would be the best time to mix them. then ladle the boiled beans into the skillet. Stir. Put the vegetables last making sure that they are not overcooked.

Instead of mixing fried fish into the stew, we just had our fried milkfish as it is.

And although it was raining, Rad requested for some milk shake.
Avocado Milk Shake Ingredients:
  • 2 small avocados
  • 2-3 brown sugar (depends on taste)
  • about 1 glass of milk
  • ice

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend till frothy.
And so, Mangantayon!

>Paksiw na Tilapia


For the past two months, we have been regularly buying Philippine foods from Asia Yaosho via the internet. Sometimes the local supermarket have fresh tilapia but at a 900 Yen (~450PhP) price, I would rather wait till I get home to the Philippines. Fortunately, Yaosho has frozen tilapia imported, not from the Philippines, but from Taiwan. But tilapia is tilapia. We also bought milkfish and had last week but in our hunger, we weren’t able to take any photos.

“Paksiw” is a Filipino culinary term for something cooked in vinegar. In Ilocos, we sometimes call it “Liningta” which means “boiled”. This recipe is so common with so many varieties already but I always do mine using what my parents have thought us. It was only recently that I “perfected” it. I think. When I say “perfected”, it means that it is already worthy of praise from my father who cooks this so perfectly. It would have been better if I used Ilocano Vinegar (the black one) and lined my pot with banana leaves.


  • 1 Tilapia/Bangus
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ginger
  • salt (about 1 tsp)
  • black pepper
  • 2 laurel leaves
  • 50 mL vinegar
  • water (about half or so of the amount of vinegar used)
  • Optional:
  • chili peppers
  • eggplants


This is as idiot-proof as it can get. Just mix all the ingredients together, cover the pot and bring to a boil then simmer at low fire till about half or more of the liquid disappears. Do not stir. You can put in the veggies when it is almost done to preserve their color. I used about 2-inch ginger. My mother said, the more garlic and ginger you put the better it will be.

So what did I do wrong in my past attempts? I was so impatient on getting it done that I always put the stove on high. Teheheheh. I guess “liningta” requires some “anus” (patience). So, mangantayon!