Pinakbet (Vegetables Stewed in Fermented Shrimp Paste)

Pinakbet (Vegetables Stewed in Fermented Shrimp Paste)

Filipino cooking embraces salt — perhaps the legacy of life in a tropical climate, where, before refrigeration, food had to be preserved. The primary salt in pinkabet, a vegetable stew, is bagoong, a satisfyingly funky paste of fermented shrimp or fish. As with miso, there are many types of bagoong: dry or oily, toasted or raw, bright pink and briny or dark brown and faintly sweet. I like to use the pink variety because of the large formations of salt crystals. Paired with the toasted and caramelized tomato paste, the bagoong achieves a deep, concentrated umami flavor, enough to season all the vegetables.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 8 persons



  1. Step 1

    In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until caramelized, toasted and darkened, about 2 minutes. Add the bagoong and cook, stirring, until superfragrant and aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  2. Step 2

    Add the tomatoes and stir to deglaze, about 3 minutes. Add the onions, squash, salt and 2 cups water and cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften and liquid reduces slightly and becomes glossy, about 10 minutes.
  3. Step 3

    Add the okra, long beans, eggplants and bittermelon, and cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash and other vegetables are soft but retain some bite, and long beans are floppy, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Step 4

    Serve hot over rice, or set it on a buffet, where it’s equally good served at room temperature.