Sunday, September 13, 2009

Inabraw or Dinengdeng

We called home today and they told us they were having frogs for lunch. A local delicacy. Since I have no way of getting hold of the same today, I decided to cook something close (not to frogs but to home, that is.). What`s more traditional Ilocano cooking than INABRAW? So timely because yesterday I spotted a lot of jute at the supermarket. If only there were malunggay but I guess I have to be thankful that at least familiar veggies were there.

Inabraw is also called dinengdeng and it usually contains a mixture of veggies in a bagoong (salted/fermented bonnet mouth fish or the shiokara 塩辛) soup base. It is different from pinakbet in that, inabraw is more soupy, less veggies and usually do not have tomatoes. Ilocanoes are voracious vegetable eaters and most of the combinations of vegetables in inabraw are those that can be found in one`s backyard. Perhaps this is one reason why Ilocanos are thought to be thrifty to the point of stinginess because most never have to go to the market to buy food because they can have a proper meal with just the leaves and fruits from their backyards.

Most common combination is malunggay (or leaves from the horseradish tree or Moringa oleifera) and jute or saluyot (moloheya or Corchorus sp.). I sometimes think that an Inabraw with only malunggay and jute in bagoong is the basic Inabraw. Some say one is not an Ilocano if they don`t have at least one horseradish tree in their yard. Jute on the other hand, grows just about anywhere and during rainy season, they just come out.

Cooking inabraw consists only of boiling water then adding the bagoong and then the veggies. Here are tips though that my parents especially my father taught us to make sure that the inabraw will come out appetizing and delicious. Other people may have different ways of preparing but this one works for me and my family.

1. Do not put too much water or else it will come out too soupy or what he terms as bumiraw biraw. It is not so appetizing to see all the veggies drowning in the soup base plus the excess water will dilute the taste from the veggies.

2. Put minimal bagoong. Although it is in a bagoong soup base, putting too much of bagoong will make it too salty. For a recipe for a family of 6, we usually just use about 1 tablespoon or lesser.

4. Put veggies which are hard to cook, first, and the leaves last. For example, in the above inabraw, I put the bitter gourd, then the eggplant and the jute leaves last. (by the way, the combination of the bitter gourd and jute is good because the sweetness from the jute contrasted with the bitterness of the gourd and the result is really so good!).

3. Never overcook the veggies. My father always stressed on maintaining the color of the veggies especially the green leafy ones. So, do not wait for the veggies to cook before you put in the next one. It is all about timing.

4. Boil a bit of ginger in the water before putting the bagoong. My mom taught me this. It adds flavor.

5. Add fried fish or pork or leftover pork adobo into the soup to have a little meaty taste.

6. If you do it right, you will never have the need to add msg or additional salt.

Now the only thing that I have to figure is how to cook inabraw without ever using bagoong. Rad wants it that way, but then it won`t be inabraw anymore. A bit of warning though, eating inabraw is an acquired thing. Oh well, mangantayon!


Chow and Chatter said...

looks cool what is it an Iguana?

MaRyA said...

ahahhha no. that`S just a common fried fish. I dunno what type though. Guess the photo is not hot it seem LOL.thanks for dropping by!

Manang Kim said...

Wow that looks so good, parang law-oy sa bisaya din. Minsan isda na paksiw ang nilagay namin with lots of green vegetables pati na kalabasa and talong. Nagutom na ako hehe.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zachz,

I don't use bagoong myself when I cook inabraw, pinakbet or sinigang. What I use in place of bagoong is fish powder or whatever they call it. It looks like fishmeal, only it is ground finely, or so it seems. These are sold in oriental stores in the United States. I cannot read the labels because they are written in strange oriental characters like korean, or chinese. I just saw the pictures on the package and I bought one small package just to try it and since then I keep buying in its biggest packaging because it serves the purpose for me. As soon as I get home, I remove them from their packaging and store them in large-mouthed glass jars or garapon. In addition to this fish powder, I add a few cubes of beef or chicken bullion. I use it also for the tinimtim (pinakbet)nga bulong saluyot and it tastes great. Oh yes, I discovered a store (a Vietnamese store} that sells large quantities of jute leaves and now I can cook all the tinimtim that I need. lol.

Am staying away from bagoong because I developed an allergy to it. The padas bagoong is okay, though, and I eat it raw with spring onions and tomatoes. Yummy....



MaRyA said...

@manang kim- yep you`re right it is similar to law-oy. and we can do the same with kalabasa and talong too. I think Ill cook that next week!

@Apo Dag! --thank you for dropping by and thank you for the tip! I never thought I can do that. I have some fish powder at home I will try it. Rad sad to me "I told you so!" when he read your comment LOL!

Anonymous said...

Nilaw-oy bitaw kana siya, Ilocano variation.


Anonymous said...

this is yummyyy....i miss home na ..i can't cook proper inabraw kasi di ako gumagamit ng bagoong..allergy kasi anakko so i put asin...when i cook pinakbet is the same no bagoong ..favorite ilokano dish of my lil' Jac...anyway i put chicken broth....


Anonymous said...

oy!eto ang da best!

mtoni said...

ana po makahanap din ako ng fish powder na yan, kaya lang di ko alam ang brand/name

Gay said...

Ang sarap naman! I love to eat this dish especially when I get the chance to go to the Ilocos region.

MaRyA said...

@mtoni - nasa japan ka ba? if you are i can send you a pic of the fish powder i use.

@gay - thanks for dropping by!