Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Ilocos Region's Native Cuisines

Featured Region: Region I, The Ilocos Region
Featured Recipe: Pinakbet

For the whole month of October, Isla Kulinarya will bring you to a scenic region that is blessed with open highways and cobblestoned roads, old fashioned towns, and grand Spanish style architecture-- the Ilocos Region.  Region 1 or Ilocos Region, which is wedged between the wild china sea and rugged Cordillera mountain range demonstrates a visually stimulating scene that boasts its splendor and magnificence. It consists of several provinces including: Abra, Benguet, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Mountain Province, and Pangasinan.

In addition, Ilocos is home to hardworking people who have cultivated the land to provide themselves with nourishment for thousands of years.

They say they’ll know you’re Ilokano if :
             *you're a spendthrift or a frugal person
             *you address your fellows as lakay.
             *you say “aysos” over 10 times a day
             *your family gathering includes an inevitable game of Pepito/Pusoy
             *your favorite expression is mangan tayon (let’s eat!) and
             *your favorite dish is pinakbet.

Pinakbet or pakbet is a popular Ilocano dish, from the northern regions of the Philippines, although it has become popular throughout the archipelago. The word is the contracted form of the Ilocano word pinakebbet, meaning "shrunk" or "shriveled".

Ilokano's pinakbet
 The original Ilocano pinakbet uses bagoong, of fermented monamon or other fish, while further south, bagoong alamang is used. The basic vegetables used in this dish include native bitter melon, eggplant, tomato, ginger, okra, string beans, lima beans, chili peppers, parda and winged beans. A Tagalog version usually includes squash or kalabasa. Most of these vegetables are easily accessible, and are grown in backyards and gardens of most Ilocano households.

As its name suggests, pinakbet is usually cooked until almost dry and shriveled and the flavors of the vegetables are emphasized and accentuated by bagoong (shrimp paste). In some cases, lechon, chicharon, or other meats (most commonly pork), or shrimp are added.

Because pinakbet is a vegetable dish, it is considered a healthy dish. Here for the enjoyment of Filipino Americans is a great recipe for this beloved Ilokano dish- brought to you by Island Pacific’s Isla Kulinarya.

Catch us again next week as we feature another Ilocano recipe, you'll surely love. Don't miss it! Mangan tayon!

Isla Kulinarya lets you explore the islands, taste the food, relive the memories -- all made possible by Island Pacific Supermarket. Go and visit an Island Pacifc near you with branches in Southern California located at Cerritos, Canoga Park, North and South Vermont in Los Angeles, Panorama City and West Covina;  Union City and Vallejo in Northern California. 

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