The Filipino Pinakbet is a vegetable stew usually consisting of slices of eggplants, long green beans, okra, ampalaya (bitter melon), kabocha squash, and shrimps, cooked in a sauté of bagoong (shrimp paste).Next week, it will be Ash Wednesday and this will make a good meatless meal for the start of Lent when we give up eating meat on this calendar day and Fridays.
Pinakbet is a popular vegetable dish of Filipinos. In the Philippines, especially in the provinces, this dish can be cooked with backyard produce. And bagoong is a staple condiment in most homes. When we go back to visit, I always ask for this dish during our meals. I’ve been fortunate to try the pinakbet when we traveled to Pangasinan, the next-door province to my hometown in Tarlac. No other place has pinakbet as scrumptious as they do in Pangasinan. The large platter that came to our table was laden with fresh, crisp and colorful vegetables that tasted like they had been harvested that day. The salty, intensely-flavored bagoong laced the corners and crevices of each vegetable slice. The shrimps were plump and succulent. It was heavenly to pour it all on a mound of fragrant, steaming white rice.
When we got back to the States, I simply had to recreate the pinakbet for our family meal. I had nearly all the fresh vegetables and the shrimp paste from the Asian supermarket. As we savored the salty sauce cradling the eggplant, ampalaya and long beans, I felt grateful for the many opportunities that have come into my life—like traveling often back to the Philippines and relishing classic dishes that bring the family together at the table. It only takes a savory recipe like this to remind us of the abundance of blessings around us.
Pinakbet - Vegetable Stew with Shrimp Paste
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 whole onion chopped
- 1 knob fresh ginger about 1-inch, peeled, sliced
- 1/2 pound fresh shrimps heads, tails removed, peeled
- 2 whole tomatoes sliced
- 1 cup cubed kabocha squash
- 2 pieces Asian eggplants sliced
- 2 cups sliced long green beans in 2-inch length pieces
- 8 pieces okra
- 1 piece ampalaya (bitter melon) sliced, seeds and white membrane removed
- 1 cup vegetable broth *Add 1 cup more if cooking in the Instant Pot
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons bagoong (shrimp paste) from Asian markets
- 1 piece carrot peeled, sliced (optional)
- boiled rice for serving
- In a large skillet, over medium high heat add the vegetable oil. After 1 to 2 minutes, when oil is hot, saute the garlic, onions and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes till soft.
- Add the tomatoes and shrimps. Continue cooking for 5 to 6 minutes till shrimps turn pink.
- Pour the broth. Add the squash, eggplants, long green beans, okra and ampalaya to the skillet. Mix the ingredients.
- Season with salt and black pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat for 6 minutes till vegetables are soft.
- Add the bagoong (shrimp paste) to the vegetables and shrimps. Mix ingredients well.
- Serve warm with rice.
To cook in the Instant Pot:
- Click Saute function on the keypad: Add the oil to the inside pot of the Instant Pot.When oil is hot enough in about 2 minutes, saute the garlic, onions and ginger. Saute for 2 minutes till soft and fragrant.Add the tomatoes and shrimps. Stir around for 1 minute.Click Cancel to turn off Saute function.Pour the 2 cups broth, and add the squash, eggplants, long green beans, okra, ampalaya, and bagoong (shrimp paste). Season with salt and black pepper. There is no need to stir ingredients at this point.Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Sealing. Press Manual and cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes. When cooking is complete, do a Quick Release and carefully unlock and open the lid. Click Cancel to make sure Instant Pot is turned off. Serve warm.
Notes on the Instant Pot:
- After the Saute function, it takes about 17 to 20 minutes for the Instant Pot to preheat and to begin High Pressure cooking. For other brands of multi-cooker please consult the manual.For safety precautions, use accessories only for the Instant Pot or multi-cooker like metal or silicone. Do not use glassware. Consult the product manual for safety.
- Other pinakbet recipes have pork belly or pork shoulder cubes. You can add this right after adding the shrimps. Keep in mind cooking time may take a few minutes longer if meat is added.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-Quirino. Buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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