When I saw this Veggie grab bag ad in one of my favorite Asian grocer (Tokyo Central formerly known as Marukai Market) magazine, I thought the veggies will be more like green beans, carrots, Brussel sprouts but when we went to the market, I grabbed a veggie bag and filled it with cherry tomatoes, okra and mushrooms. With all that I have, plus my left-over quarter kabocha (a Japanese variety of winter squash), today I cooked Pinakbet.
This Filipino vegetable dish brings back memories of childhood because we ate this a lot of times and it was one of my dreaded meals because of the bitter melon. I used to hate eating okra for it’s slimy texture and bitter melon because of the strong bitter taste, but this dish was often served when I was young as it originated from the Northern Regions of the Philippines where my Mother was from. Remembering how much my Dad loved vegetables and memories of my Mom asking Dad to cook Pinakbet for her, makes this pot of colorful, healthful, delicious and fresh mixed vegetables meal very dear to my heart.
Here’s my recipe:
100 grams of sliced pork – OPTIONAL (sometimes I use tofu or shrimp)
2 medium Japanese eggplants cut in wedges
1/4 of a medium size Kabocha (Japanese winter squash) cut in bite-size chunks
1 lb. of Okra, washed, cleaned and cut the top part off
2 small size Bitter Melon (Ampalaya), seeded and sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 bundle of Long Beans, cut in 2-3 inches long
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 medium size shallots, sliced
1/2-1 cup of water
salt and pepper (fish sauce, liquid aminos or any seasoning you prefer)
In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Start with garlic, shallots and pork. Season with salt and pepper. When pork is almost cooked, add kabocha, long beans, eggplant and bitter melon. Pour in water and cover the pot to steam the vegetables for 5-8 minutes on high heat. Add okra, tomatoes and other seasoning and mix well. Cover again and cook for another 5 minutes to steam the okra. When it’s ready, do not cover the pot or it will over-cook the vegetables.
This is basically steaming the vegetables. Very easy and healthy. Try it! Salt and pepper are enough to make this dish taste great. Steaming the vegetables using the water mixes all the wonderful sweet, bitter and fresh flavors of all the vegetables.