Pinakbet with shrimp
Alternative namesPakbet
CourseMain course
Place of originPhilippines
Region or stateIlocos Region
Associated cuisineFilipino cuisine
Serving temperatureHot, room temperature
Main ingredientsVegetables, bagoong (fish or shrimp)
Similar dishesDinengdeng
Pinakbet vegetables: shown are bitter melon, calabaza squash, okra, eggplants, string beans, and chili

Pinakbet (also called pakbet) is an indigenous Filipino dish from the northern regions of the Philippines. Pinakbet is made with a variety of mixed vegetables flavored with bagoóng.[1] The word is the contracted from the Ilokano word pinakebbet, meaning "shrunk" or "shriveled."[2]



Ilocano cuisine is characterized by dishes that are either salty or bitter, requiring rice.[3] Original Ilocano pinakbet is seasoned with bagoóng of fermented fish (buggúong nga ikán) usually of anchovies (munámon). The dish includes bitter melon (paría).[4] These two ingredients define the inclinations of the Ilocano palate.[3][5][6]

Other typical vegetables include eggplant (taróng), tomato (kamátis), okra, string beans (utóng), chilis (síli), hyacinth beans (párda), winged beans (pállang), and others. Root crops and some beans like sweet potato (kamótig), lima beans (patáni), pigeon peas (kárdis) are optionally added. Aromatics such as ginger (layá), shallots (sibúyas), and garlic (báwang) are commonly added. Many of these vegetables are easily accessible and are grown in the backyards and gardens of most Ilocano households.[7][8]

Smaller vegetables are left whole or partially sliced in half (okra, tomatoes, chilis, hyacinth beans, smaller varieties of bitter melon and eggplants, aromatics), larger vegetables are cut into finger-length size (thinner eggplants, yardlong beans, winged beans), chopped into smaller chunks (larger varieties of bitter melon, sweet potatoes), and beans shelled from their pods (lima, pigeon peas).

Absent from this list is calabaza (karabasa). Although widely grown in the Ilocos region, historically the cooking of calabaza was omitted from pinakbet because it took longer to cook in a claypot over a wood fire, compared to the other vegetables.


Bagoong provides the base. However, dried whole krill or smaller shrimps (áramang), larger headless dried shrimps (hébi), and dried anchovies, can be used to further enhance the broth similar to Japanese dashi (出汁) or Korean dasima (다시마) without having to use MSG. Other than for the aromatic vegetables (garlic, ginger, shallots), no other flavoring enhancers and spices such as peppercorns or bay leaves are used.[9]

Meat and seafood

Pinakbet remains a straightforward healthy vegetable dish containing no meat.[9][10] In Ilocano cuisine, meats are typically prepared separately on its own such as adobo or dinuguan (dinárdaraan) which contains no vegetables (or very few).[11] Rather, meats including fish can be added as a garnish (ságpaw), typically stale or leftover lechon (lítson), chicharron (bágnet or tsitsarón) or fried fish (príto nga ikán). Rare and highly prized ingredients of fresh shrimps (pasáyan) or prawns (udáng) could also be used as sagpaw, when available.[3][12]


Fats or oils are not used in the original preparation, either for the vegetables or proteins. The vegetables are cooked in a method between shallow boiling and steaming.[9] A small amount of water is boiled in a pot (bánga). Some of this water is added to a bowl containing a small amount of buggúong. The buggúong is macerated with the water to dissolved. This mixture is then strained over the pot to remove fish debris such as bones to create a fish broth.[9] The aromatics are added to the flavor the fish broth and optionally seasoned with the dried shrimp or anchovies, followed by the vegetables.[9] To mix, the vegetables are gently tossed within the pot without the use a utensil to keep them relatively intact. As its name suggests, these vegetables are cooked until "shriveled". Leftover meats or seafood garnishes can be added near the end of the cooking time.[12]

Other preparations

Bulakan pinakbet

In areas outside of the Ilocos Region, shrimp paste (bagoóng alamáng) is commonly used in place of anchovy paste. Other non-Ilocano ("Tagalog") preparations include sauteing pork, adding calabaza (kalabasa), using flavoring agents like Maggi liquid seasoning or "Magic Sarap," bouillon cube, fish sauce (patis), oyster sauce, meat stock, spices, bay leaves and pepper, or stewing in coconut milk.[13][14][9]

Similar and related dishes

Related dishes

Other vegetable stews


  1. ^ David Yen Ho Wu; Sidney C. H. Cheung (2002). Wu: Globalization of Chinese Food. University of Hawaii Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-8248-2582-9. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  2. ^ "Pakbet / Pinakbet". San Pablo City. 2010. Archived from the original on April 8, 2018. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "A Taste of Ilocos Norte". Museo Ilocos Norte. December 9, 2008.
  4. ^ Johnson-Kozlow, Marilyn; Matt, Georg E.; Rock, Cheryl L.; de la Rosa, Ruth; Conway, Terry L.; Romero, Romina A. (2011). "Assessment of Dietary Intakes of Filipino-Americans: Implications for Food Frequency Questionnaire Design". Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 43 (6). Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior: 505–510. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2010.09.001. PMC 3204150. PMID 21705276.
  5. ^ "Taste Philippines Foods in Ilocos Norte". Tartaruga's Boutique Hotel in Pagudpud Ilocos Norte. Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  6. ^ Palanca, Clinton (February 1, 2019). "Looking for the Origin of Papaitan and Finding Love in Ilocano Cuisine". Retrieved September 14, 2023.
  7. ^ Barrows, David P (July 1907). "Education and social progress in the Philippines". The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 30 (1): 69–82.
  8. ^ Pauling, L. W. &, Grivetti, L. E. (1984). "The Importance of animals and forage sources within a rice cropping system northern Luzon, Philippines". Proceedings, Kansas State University's 1983 Farming Systems Research Symposium: Animals in the farming system. Manhattan, Kansas: International Programs Office, Kansas State University.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b c d e f Gascon, Helen C., Kathryn J. Orr (2018). About FIlipino Foods.
  10. ^ Daus-Magbual, R. R., &, R. S. Magbual (2012). "The health of the Filipina/o America: Challenges and opportunities for Change". Handbook of Asian American Health: 45–57.((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Fernandez, D. G. (2002). Vestiges of War: The Philippine-American War and the Aftermath of an Imperial Dream. New York: New York University Press. p. 237.
  12. ^ a b Tamayao, Antonio I. "The Role of Linguistic Capital in Filipino Ethnic Intermarriage and Identity: A Bourdieuan Analysis". Cagayan State University. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ "Maggi - Pinakbet".
  14. ^ Etrata, Richard M (2021). "The awareness and authenticity of gastronomic tourism in Ilocos Region". International Journal of Research. 9 (3): 133–145.