I usually make this vegetable dish when I have leftover crispy fried pork belly. The pinakbet I made today is similar to the Ilocos style of layering the vegetables and cooking it just until the vegetables are al dente. I used half of a medium size bitter melon (ampalaya). I don't recommend the very small Indian variety because they are super bitter unless you love bitter things. To prepare bitter melon, cut in half lengthwise, scrape the seeds and the white soft innards until you can see the light green meat, slice into 1 inch pieces, blanch in salted water, rinse with cold water 2 or 3 times. This process is supposed to remove some of the bitterness but I'm not sure if this really works, though.
Pinakbet1 cup diced bagnet/lechon kawali (pork belly confit)
a 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup yard long beans (sitaw), cut into 1 inch pieces
1 Asian eggplant, halved and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large tomato, sliced
2 tablespoons sliced shallots
10 pieces okra
1 cup kabocha squash, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ bitter melon, prepared as above
¼ cup bagoong alamang (salted shrimp paste) mixed with ¼ cup water or ½ cup fish bagoong (may substitute 2 tins anchovy filet mashed in ¼ cup water and strained)
- In a medium pot, arrange the pork evenly at the bottom, add the ginger on top of the pork spreading it evenly. Layer the vegetables, with the bitter melon either on the very top or if you want some bitter taste, in the middle. Pour the alamang mixture all over the vegetables. Cover the pot.
- Over high heat, boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Do not mix while boiling. Serve with steamed rice or as a side dish.
2 ½ pounds boneless pork belly
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 bay leaves
1 ½ tablespoons sea salt
- Put pork in a large pot. Add bay leaves, garlic, and salt. Add water to cover pork. Boil for 1 hour. Remove pork, drain well, dry with paper towels.
- Transfer to another pot. Add enough oil to cover pork, fry over very low heat for 1 hour to remove excess moisture. Remove pork and transfer to a large plate to cool completely.
- When cooled, reheat the same oil over high heat and fry the pork belly until skin is golden in color and very crisp.
For vegan pinakbet, omit pork and substitute 4 tablespoons soy sauce for the shrimp paste. Adjust seasoning with sea salt to taste.