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06 June 2011

Dinengdeng


This is actually the third recipe already that I am featuring for Dinengdeng, that uniquely Filipino dish of vegetable goodness simmered in fish sauce, reminiscent of the simple life in the province where vegetables were grown in the backyard and the kitchen has a clay jar where fish sauce is kept cool from the hot and humid air.


With this third variation, I can safely deduce that Dinengdeng is as varied as the vegetables that we have, with the only constant being the fish paste as its base flavouring agent.  Indeed, others even call for meat (like the one made by my sister) or fish (milkfish - or bangus - is the popular choice) to be added.  This recipe was cooked by my mother-in-law, who also made one other previously-featured Dinengdeng with bamboo shoots.

This version uses purely veggies, but with fried milkfish as a separate dish, the perfect accompaniment.

Ingredients:
1 small bowl of fish paste (bagoong)
1 cup water
a couple of medium eggplants, chopped into 3-4 pieces then quartered
1 medium bitter gourd (ampalaya), seeds removed, chopped and quartered (in our case we used the baby variety)
6-8 pcs okra, top removed
a bunch of pumpkin flowers (bulaklak ng kalabasa) - take only the petals, stalks, and young leaves which usually accompany the bunch
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium sweet potato (kamote) chopped and quartered

Procedure:

Pass the fish sauce through a sieve to remove the fish parts, leaving only the sauce.
Place the water and fish sauce in a pot.  Mix and add the onions and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.

When mixture starts to boil, add all the veggies.  Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Halfway through this time, give it a gentle mix, then cover again.

Give it a couple more minutes if sweet potato is not yet cooked (can be pierced with a fork but still with a bit of resistance).  The sweet potato thickens the sauce a bit and lends a sweet taste to an otherwise salty dish.

Serve with hot, steaming rice.  The sauce is customarily poured over the rice, which evens out the saltiness.  Best with fried fish.