Today, I’m making Pinakbet.  A popular Ilocano vegetable dish from my Province back home.  For all you non-Filipinos reading this, get ready because it’s made with fermented fish sauce  or fermented shrimp paste aka bagoong.  Sounds tasty, yes I know.  It’s not for the faint hearted that’s for sure.  But Filipinos all over the world are addicted to this.  Like there is something in the fermented fish sauce equivalent to crack on the tongue. Anyhoot, Filipinos love it and so do my kids!  Makes this mommy proud!  This year, Auntie Neneng taught me her and my Uncle Art’s version!  YES!!!  I heart their version!

First things first!  Let’s talk about one of the most influential persons to have ever touched my life, my Auntie Neneng!  Growing up with her had its perks.  Weekend shopping sprees,  one on one dinner dates, and sunset power walks on the lake brings back nostalgic tears to my eyes! She has this zest for life that is utterly palpable.   Thank goodness for divine order and the universe granting her as my Aunt.

She has that un-canny ability to send your heart into overload in seconds. Her one liners resonates with me for months.  One of those infamous resounding moments was not too long ago during one of our one on one cooking dates.     She told me,  “Sarah… above all else, forgiveness is the key to everything”!   And I was left standing there over chopped onions thinking, “Dang!  That’s like, whoa”!  Then she adds that one, two punch, “It sets your heart free”.   More whoa! She always knows what to say and when to say it.  She’s the bomb! So whenever I am really mad at someone or something.  Or at least I think I am,  I fall back to her positive Dali Llama-esk influence because her impact resonates within me. Truly!    I enjoy listening to her talk about life and  her energy is off the charts.  Hell, even a phone call from her makes my day!  She just makes you feel so revived afterwards!

My aunt is always talking up our heritage and how proud we should be to be Filipinos!  A few weeks ago we threw a surprise 70th birthday party for her.  Relatives from all over the country as well as Canada made the journey to surprise her.  Since it was her 70th, it was 70’s theme of course.   Here are some candids and videos of that day!

Uncle Art sportin the Fro and the dry roasted pig cameo!

Mama. Mary, me, Criz, Rey and Arnold!

Acosta’s and Rabina”s

Crizlyn and the roasted pig denial.

Filipinos doing what we do!

Ingredients:

1/2 to 3/4 pound pork thinly sliced

3 T pink Bagoong

Fresh ground pepper to taste

3 cloves minced garlic

1 medium tomato chopped

1 diced onion

1 egggplant chopped or 1 pound baby eggplant chopped

1 pound whole okra (I use frozen for convenience)

1 pound green beans cut

Butternut squash cubed

1 bitter melon thinly cut

1 cup water (if necessary)

Procedure:

1. )  Saute garlic until slightly golden.  Add onion and saute for 2 minutes.  Then add tomatoes.

2. ) Afterwards add pork and saute on medium high heat!

3.) Then add your pink bagoong

4.) And pepper to taste.  Saute for a few more minutes.

5. )  Then take the pork mixture out of the pan and set aside

6. ) To the pan drippings,  add your vegetables.  As a general rule of thumb, add the hardest vegetables at the bottom.  The ones that need to cook the longest. I didn’t have butternut squash (which would have gone to the bottom of the pan) or bittermelon this day, so I started off with eggplant at the bottom of the pan

7. ) Then green beans

8. ) Then okra

9. ) Lastly, pour the pork mixture over top and do not disturb the layers!

10. ) My aunt always tells me that once this starts to cook, liquid will form so there is no need to add water, but I like my Pinakbet juicy so I always add a cup of water at this point anyways.

11. )  Cover and turn to low or medium low, cooking until the vegetables are done.

12. ) Give it a good stir at the end of cooking.  My aunt adds extra bagoong to taste if needed.

Serve over rice and enjoy!

As always, I hope you enjoyed this post.  Please leave any comments or questions.  I will get back with you as soon as possible. Promise.  Feel free to follow me and subscribe.  Have a beautiful day everyone.  Thanks for stopping by!

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