This is last part of the pinakbet story.
Put the pork in a pan, add water just enough to cover. Bring to boil. Here’s mine when cooking, I used a Chinese wok hence the black utensil. If you use chicharong bulaklak instead of pork, go straight to sautéing the spices.
Let it simmer until all the water is gone. Before the pan dries out, lower the fire. Stir ocassionally.
The fatty oil will slowly ooze out of the fatty tissues. I wait as much oil to ooze out — until the fatty chuncks has shrunk really much. You will not want to cook the lean meat that much, because they will harden like stone.
Move the lean parts on the side as the fatty parts are cooked further.
When there’s almost no oil oozing out, mix all meat slices and stir fry until brown.
On a separate pan, use the fatty oil from the fried meat to sauté garlic until golden brown. Add onions and ginger, stir fry until onions are half done. Add tomatoes, stir fry until the tomatoes are between easy to crush and pasty.
Don’t use the same pan used for frying the pork. The burned meat that had stuck on the pan will lend your pinakbet bitter, in a bad way. Bad way because you want the bitterness of the bitter gourd, but not the bitter taste of a burnt meat. If you only have one pan, wash it first. Make sure to save the fatty oil for sautéing the spices. I did use a separate pan. Please don’t mind the stains caused by overheating on previous days’ use.
Add water, bring to boil. Add just a little bagoong for now. If you have powdered or grounded chiharon,
add now. Simmer for a few minutes.
Add as much bagoong to bring the saltiness to a tad lesser than you desire. This is the key to genuine pinakbet, don’t use salt! Add all vegetables…
Simmer over a really low fire. This is another key, let the bagoong permeate the vegetables. Periodically check for saltiness, adding hot water to offset evaporation.
Do note that native Ilocanoes tend to overdo the saltiness. They won’t mind the extra salting effect of evaporation. Maybe, just maybe because I am not a historian, the extra saltiness is a way to extend the shelf life of the dish. Think of those days when no refrigeration around.
Enough talk already. Dig in!