Pinakbet Cooking Challenge – Nov. 15, 2013

Pinakbet Cooking Challenge - Nov. 15, 2013
East-West Gen. Manager Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc showing eggplant developed by East-West plant breeders. Eggplant is an important vegetable for cooking Pinakbet together with many other veggies.

East-West Seed Company is holding a Pinakbet Cooking Challenge on November 15, 2013 at its head office in San Rafael, Bulacan, starting at 9 a.m.

Some 22 provincial winners from Regions 1 to 5 will participate in the Pinakbet cooking contest. Each one will cook his or her version of Pinakbet which is the favorite dish in the Ilocos Region.In Ilocano, Pinakbet literally means “shrunk” vegetables, meaning it is well-cooked. The authentic Ilocano pinakbet is very different from what most restaurants in Metro Manila pass on as Pinakbet.

In cooking pinakbet, many vegetables are cooked together. Our favorite consists of more than 10 vegetables that could include eggplant, tomato, ampalaya, sitao, okra, patani, radish fruit (not the root), ampalaya tops, cowpea, alokon, batao, patola, kadyos or pigeon pea, sweet pepper, finger pepper, garlic (fresh young leaves as well as bulb) and some others if available. In our own cooking, we don’t include squash in our Pinakbet. Aside from vegetables, bagnet or broiled dalag or mudfish, plus patis or bagoong to taste, will make the Pinakbet truly sumptuous.

Most people will tell you that vegetables should not be well cooked. However, we remember very well a report several years ago from the Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center in Taiwan. It said that iron is released when vegetables are well-cooked. You will surely agree that the very delicious Bicolano pride, laing, will not taste as good if not well cooked.

We remember what Mr. Simon Groot, one of the founders of East-West Seed, told us when we met him at the 30th anniversary of the company. He revealed that East-West Seed started becoming profitable after the company focused its campaign on Pinakbet varieties. As everyone knows, East-West Seed has become the front runner in the vegetable seed industry in the Philippines, and has international operations in Southeast Asia, India, Sri Lanka, Africa and South America.

By the way, we have been invited as one of the judges in the Pinakbet Cooking Challenge on November 15. A national Pinakbet Cooking Challenge is also scheduled sometime in December, according to Chris Pile of East-West.

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