At long last, pinakbet

Pinakbet has long been one of my favorite words, along with ramekin and clafouti. Someday I’m going to throw a dinner party involving all three, and maybe some of my newer favorites like the Indonesian pulang (to go home) and meninabobokan (to sing a lullaby).

In all the years I’ve loved pinakbet, I’ve never actually tasted it. But I knew it was from the Philippines — more precisely, as Wikipedia tells us, it is a northern Filipino stew generally featuring bitter melon, eggplant, tomato, ginger, okra, beans and chilis — so I was looking forward to getting my hands on some during my trip to Manila.

During the first couple of days I asked around for it but didn’t find any. Finally, on my last night, I ran across it in a mall food court. I was skeptical, having eaten a lot of mediocre Indonesian food in Indonesian food courts, but there weren’t going to be any other chances.

And indeed, this pinakbet turned out to be suspiciously mediocre. It was kind of bland and mushy and I didn’t detect any bitter melon in it. Some hot sauce and vinegar perked it up a bit, but I remain convinced that the pinakbet of my dreams is still out there somewhere.

Author: Trish Anderton

I am a nonprofit communicator, Red Sox fan and amateur streetfoodologist. Once upon a time I worked for the Jakarta Globe & Jakarta Post.

2 thoughts on “At long last, pinakbet”

  1. Selamat Tahun Baru Kopi Susu. I came across your blog when searching for a recipe for kopi susu, a drink I also enjoyed when on a cycling tour of Sulawesi Selatan 12 months ago (great fun – see

    Saya dari Canberra, Australia. Saya belajar Bahasa Indonesia di sekolah – dua puluh tahun yang lalu. Saya mau latihan Bahasa Indonesia karena saya akan pergi ke Indonesia lagi, mungkin Bali pada tahun ini tapi saya mau pergi ke pulau lain juga.

    So I am writing to say hi, that saya suka blog kamu, and to ask if you know of anyone who would be interested in writing to practice their English so that I could practice my Indonesian. Would also love to know more about what you are doing in Indonesia and how you are finding it. I found it a fascinating country to visit and am keen to go back.

    And as for the kopi susu, couldn't find a recipe so in the end poured coffee grounds and susu into a gelas dengan air panas, and stirred it a bit. Had to wait a while for it to settle but it was almost as good as the real thing!

    Hope to hear from you – any comments you put up will come to my email address but I can send that separately if needed.

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