Holy Week comfort food: Pinakbet

April is Filipino Food Month
PINAKBET: A Great Way To Eat More Vegetables!

Mildred German 

It is customary for many Filipinos to refrain from eating meat during Holy Week. As the Philippines’ lush harvests of vegetables has shaped the culture of food in the country, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan Filipino recipes to enjoy.


A very popular vegetable dish, Pinakbet or Pakbet, originated from the Ilocos region in the North of the Philippines. Derived from the Ilocano word, pinakebbet, which means ‘shrunk’, and describes the traditional cooking method of the dish that makes Pinakbet one of the easiest Filipino dishes to cook, and one of the top favorite dishes in the Philippines.

In cooking of the Pinakbet, vegetables are cooked together, with little water, covered, let simmered until vegetables are cooked and the stew has reached a dry texture, or the vegetables have shriveled. If Pinakbet will be cooked with a pan, vegetables that take the longest cooking time are cooked first to ensure all the ingredients are properly cooked.

The most traditional way of cooking Pinakbet is the Ilocano way – vegetables are layered in a pot, with the longest cooking time at the bottom. As the pot simmers, vegetables are cooked accordingly without stirring or mixing. The original Ilocano Pinakbet uses ‘alamang’ (fermented fish).

Meanwhile, in the further South, ‘bagoong’ (shrimp paste) is used. A Tagalog version typically includes ‘kalabasa’ (kabocha squash). In some cases, lechon, chicharon, or other meats (most commonly pork) are added. However, Pinakbet is also a very flexible recipe that can be served as a vegetarian or vegan dish. It is definitely a great way to eat more vegetables!

The most common vegetables used in cooking Pinakbet are ampalaya (bitter melon), okra, sitaw (long bean), talong (eggplant), onion, garlic, malunggay (moringga), sigarilyas (winged bean), and root crops such as kamote (yam). In Canada, zucchini can be used in alternative to kalabasa ‘kabocha squash’.

As Filipino food shapes the identities of many of our communities, including in the diaspora, Filipino food is also a way to connect to our roots. Pinakbet reflects the agricultural livelihood of Filipinos, and the province-lifestyle where most households have vegetable gardens. Pinakbet reminds us of the harvests of the lands of the Philippines with varieties of vegetables and fruits to enjoy.

Not only Pinakbet is known for its recipe, and its many varieties of vegetables, the wonderful and flavourful dish also boasts a nutritious meal to feed our families and communities.___________________________________________________________

The whole month of April is for celebrating the ‘Filipino Food Month’ that aims to promote and preserve the Philippine’s culinary heritage and traditions. Founded on April 13, 2018, the Filipino Food Month was declared after Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed the Presidential Proclamation No. 469. Since, various groups and institutions have been showcasing Filipino food and cooking in and outside of the Philippines for this annual celebration that lasts for a whole month.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top