Tag Archive for dinengdeng

Dinengdeng for the Terminally Single

I was browsing through Facebook this morning and saw this picture of dinengdeng  posted by Princess Grace Dulay, an Ilocano based in the Middle East.

Dinengdeng by true blue Ilocano, Princess Grace Dulay

As pictured the dish looked authentic and was presented very threadbare and meager, which is characteristically Ilocano. Though not visually appetizing to anyone used to the elaborate and artistic culinary presentations, I am sure that this is one yummy dinengdeng that was even made more special because it was cooked outside Ilocandia shores. I christened her version as 'dinengdeng for the terminally single' because it has papaya as a major ingredient, a medically proven contraceptive, and even some believe has anaphrodisiac effects when consumed in large amounts. For her version of dinengdeng, Princess also used string beans and jute leaves with the papaya.

Dinengdeng, or inabraw is a Ilocano dish or a method of cooking vegetables that is a staple within Ilocano circles yet not widely known in other areas of the Philippines. A very distant cousin of pinakbet, the only similarity is that they are both bagoong-based dishes that makes use of easily accessible vegetables. Pinakbet has more ingredients and much more elaborate in preparation compared to dinengdeng. The dinengdeng ingredients vary depending on what is available or in-season (meaning cheap).


1. In a pot boil sliced tomatoes, onions, bagoong monamon or any sagpaw or sahog (a non-vegetable ingredient).  Use 2-3 cups of water and the amount of bagoong according to desired taste. I usually use one teaspoon for every cup of water. For sahog, Ilocanos usually use leftover meat or fish. Also common are tiny shrimp called ‘kurus’, grilled fish, or any dried fish.

2. After the tomatoes melt, put the vegetables one by one. Start with the hardest vegetable in your chosen vegetable medley. There are popular combos but technically, any edible root, leaves, bean or fruit that will taste good together can be thrown into the pot. Pick any 3 or more in-season vegetables. Keep in mind that dinengdeng is usually better half-cooked and prepared just enough for one meal. Like any vegetable dish, dinengdeng is best consumed immediately after cooking.


Set 1: patola, dahon ng kalabasa and sitaw

Set 2: malunggay, papaya and sitaw

Set 3: gabi tubers, sitaw and sabiddukong

Set 4: saluyot, bamboo shoot and alukon

Click here for pictures of popular DINENGDENG INGREDIENTS.

Experiment with different ingredients. What I usually do is pick my most favorite vegetables for my dinengdeng. Enjoy!  

Dinengdeng Market

Here are the popular dinengdeng ingredients. Pick 3 or more ingredients for your version of dinengdeng. Click here for cooking instructions.   Share your dinengdeng medley. Email me at maricar@ilocanoyork.com.

What Makes Ilocano Food Ilocano

Ilocanos are notoriously known for being frugal. Born of an area bereft of  resources, who can blame them? As far back as Pre-hispanic times, they scrimped to survive the harsh living conditions of the northern Philippines. If it were hard times for the entire archipelago, it was much harder for them (and yes same is true for some of our brothers in Visayas and Mindanao). They migrated vigorously.  Families moving in droves to south, and males boarding ships to Hawaii, Alaska and California to fill foreign labor with their entire clan following suit. Motivation to go find better life is the major reason why they are one of the most dispersed ethnic communities in the Philippines.
These hardships and lack of resources reflect on the Ilocano table. Food preparation was always simple, and ingredients never expensive if not FREE for most ingredients were  locally available. And fortunately for them, the selections were very healthy and green. They cooked the slimy saluyot, picked flowers and made them edible, and basically took every free growing weed into the pot then flavored them with the smelly buggoong and armang. As compared to the Ilocano taste, Filipinos in general are a culture of meat eaters. The healthy roughage, overly simple and flesh-scant Ilocano viands don't appeal to the common Pinoy tongue. Onlypinakbet and bagnet have made it to mainstream Filipino cuisine. In fact, have you ever seen a popular faithfully Ilocano restaurant chain that serves dinengdeng? Nope. Some Tagalogs aren't even aware that such mix of bitter vegetables and leftover fish tail could be so deliciously addicting.
Scavenger Cook
I'm an immigrant Ilocano living in the States. In US, ingredients are easily available, food is relatively affordable, but it's hard to shake off traits that have been socially and culturally ingrained in my head. Plus, I admit I miss the bitter veggie stew my grandmother used to cook. In one of my sentimental weeks, I actually spent more cooking Ilocano comfort foods whose ingredients have otherwise been free if cooked in my hometown in Tarlac, but since New York has a climate that wouldn't perennially grow  ingredients like saluyot, I splurged on ingredients that turned out to be more expensive than the regular American steak.
I don't cook often, but whenever I do my method of cooking is green in the recycled sense. I cook whatever is in the fridge. I cook whatever is left from last night's dinner. I cook the takeout leftovers. No fancy ingredients. No elaborate trappings. No running to the store to buy missing ingredients. I make my fridge as sustainable as possible. Simple and economical are my two governing principles. On this page, do not expect popular Filipino foods. I only do creations born out of hunger. Food that is cooked because I was hungry and at the same time have this creative tendency to see how a certain leftover will taste if mixed with something I don't want to throw out from the fridge.
I have been programmed to be frugal, so frugal I will be. I am your friendly, feisty, and most frugal Ilocano SCAVENGER COOK.