The word “pinakbet” comes from the Ilocano root word “kebbet” meaning kulubot in Filipino/Tagalog; “curl”, “curly”, “shrink” or “shrank” or words to this effect in English. And so, the menu “Pinakbet” or “pakbet” in short, is simply translated to “pinakulubot” in Tagalog. This referring to “Pinakulubot” na “talong” (eggplant) the main ingredient of the said dish. The other ingredients are:
- Native siling berde (green pepper)
- Native ampalaya (bitter grourd)
- Fragrant patani seeds (lima beans)
- Kardis (pigeon peas if, it is in season)
- Sitaw (string beans)
- Kalabasa (squash)
- Lasona (native onion)
- Sagpaw nga bagnet (Sahog na lechon kawali or crispy fried pork belly)
- Buggoong nga monamon (salt fermented anchovies)
The original Ilocano Pinakbet is not fried, unlike the pakbet of southerners and they use bagoong alamang (salted shrimp fry) as the seasoning. The pinakbet is cooked in ceramic pot (banga or palayok).
Cooking is done by layering the vegetables on the palayok—first, ginger, eggplant, patani and kardis, string beans, sitaw, okra at siling duwag. Ampalaya should be on top.
After it boils, the heat is then lowered for the vegetables to sweat without browning, leaving the pot covered until vegetables are soft and have released their flavor.
The chopped bagnet is then added. The pakbet is never stirred while cooking, instead, the pot is held on both sides and it is tossed in a circular fashion to move vegetables around. The pot is tossed and moved until the eggplants has shifted on topmost part of the pot. The pakbet is cooked until the sauce thickens.
A more soupy viand in the locality is called dinengdeng.