When I was younger, I can’t see myself using a stainless steel stacked food carrier. From where I was, the lowly workers used them for lunch and I thought using one would make me look like them. I’m really loving my stainless steel tiffin food carrier. It carries a lot of food and occupies little horizontal space. I’ve been using it for two weeks now and it’s not un-cool at all! You know what’s not cool? Thinking lowly of manual workers.
Anyway, Francis is at Angeles City, Pampanga from yesterday up to Saturday so I’m having lunch by myself. Huhuhu. It’s getting kind of lonely eating alone, but I promised him I will eat, so here I am.
For today’s lunch, I had pinakbet – a vegetable dish from Northern Philippines. It is traditionally made with an array of local vegetables, bagoong (fermented fish paste) and some fried or roasted pig or fish. When I stopped eating animals, I thought I will never get to recreate this quintessential Ilocano dish but today I proved to myself that I’m so wrong. (Yes, Francis’ mom still makes the best vegan pinakbet but mine is totally different.)
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes, crushed
- 1 handful of sweet potatoes, cubed
- 1 handful of ampalaya (bitter gourd), the small variety (not the long ones)
- 1 bunch okra, cut in half
- 1 cup small, round eggplant, stalk and top part removed then partially cut horizontally and vertically to form a cross (do not cut all the way)
- 3 green siling panigang
- 1 medium onion
- 1 sheet nori, torn
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 1 cup oyster mushrooms
- 1 cup water
- Mix together everything in a pot, the first ingredient on the bottom and the last ingredient on top. Cover.
- Cook over low heat for about 30-45 minutes until everything is overcooked and mushy.
It’s so incredible how the simple addition of the nori sheet changed the whole dish. It tastes so fishy it feels like a crime. But it’s vegan, promise!
Pinakbet is a very forgiving dish. Papa said you only need bagoong, ampalaya and tomatoes to make pinakbet, so don’t fret if you’re missing something.
Also, it’s meant to be overcooked and mushy. Yeah, you kill the enzymes… but it’s pinakbet.