Pinakbet with Bacon is my take on the popular Filipino vegetable stew that consists of eggplants, yard long green beans, tomatoes, okra, bitter melon, squash, with small pork bits, seasoned with fish sauce or shrimp paste. Adding crunchy bacon slices on top, was inspired by a recipe from Marvin Gapultos, author of bestselling Filipino cookbooks.
Like most Filipino dishes, pinakbet, a dish that originated in the Ilocos region, is the kind of recipe that uses backyard vegetables. The vegetables are all thrown in the pot and simmered with shrimp paste till done.
Well, I don’t grow these vegetables in my east coast American backyard. But I did get to purchase from the Asian market long Asian eggplants, the ampalaya (bitter melon), kabocha squash, and okra. Plus, we always have access to vine-ripened, sweet Jersey tomatoes, so I got cooking. I sauteed the vegetables in a base of bacon fat. Then piled everything in. I added the bagoong (shrimp paste) as the vegetable stew simmered. And finally, the piece de resistance, the crisp, bacon pieces were added on top.
“This is so good !” my family said, as they scooped out the final slices of vegetables, and fought over the last bits of crisp bacon on the platter. There was still some sauce left from the vegetables on the serving plate, so I spooned a heap of fragrant jasmine white rice, swirled it around, and inside the plate to catch all the bacon-fish sauce drippings and gulped down a mouthful.
Pinakbet with Bacon
- Large skillet or Wok: 12 to 14 inches diameter
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 whole onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 knob (1 inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled, sliced thin, julienne
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced; or use 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 250 grams large shrimps, peeled, heads and tails removed
- 2 cups cubed kabocha squash, cut into 1-inch square pieces
- 2 whole Asian eggplants, sliced
- 2 cups sliced sitaw (long green beans); cut into 2-inch length pieces
- 1 whole ampalaya (bitter melon), sliced, seeds and white membrane removed
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
- 2 Tablespoons bagoong alamang (shrimp paste)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- steamed rice
To prepare and cook bacon:
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, place the six strips of bacon. Lay them side by side, without overlapping.The bacon strips will render its own fat and become crisp, in about 10- 12 minutes. When bacon is completely done, and crisp, remove from skillet. Place bacon on parchment paper to remove excess grease. With kitchen scissors, cut into 1-inch pieces. Set aside on the parchment paper.
To cook pinakbet:
- Using the same skillet and the bacon fat, over medium heat, saute the onions, garlic, ginger, and tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes till soft. Add the shrimps to the saute and cook for about 5 minutes till shrimps turn pink.Add the vegetables to the saute : kabocha squash, eggplants, sitaw, ampalaya.Pour the broth. Mix ingredients well. Cover and continue cooking the vegetables for 10 minutes more.When vegetables are soft, add the bagoong and incorporate with the rest of ingredients. Season with black pepper.Plate the pinakbet in a serving bowl. Add the crisp bacon slices on top at the table side, so bacon stays crunchy.Serve warm with rice.
- Pinakbet, as a vegetable stew is versatile. If Asian eggplants are not available, use the large Aubergines or any eggplant variety available.You can also substitute or add other vegetables in season.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided in the recipe links is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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