Oven-Roasted Pinakbet with Bacon

Bistek & Pancit: Together At Last

I didn’t know it until I started writing this particular post, but 5 years ago, I wrote about how I first learned to make the Filipino vegetable stew known as Pinakbet. In that old post, I boldly proclaimed that Pinakbet “is my most favorite food in the whole entire world times infinity!” (man, I was a wordsmith back in the day).

Fast forward 5 years and you know what? Pinakbet is STILL my most favorite food in the whole entire world times infinity! (man, I’ve still got it!!)

My fondness for the Filipino vegetable medley probably just stems from the stew being a part of my childhood and upbringing—it’s a comfort food for me. And besides, with sweet and tangy tomatoes, bitter melon, a touch of fish sauce and a
smattering of pork belly, I love the interplay of all of the 5 tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, Umami) in this dish.

Since learning how to make Pinakbet all those years ago, I estimate that I’ve probably made it well over 100 times (at least once a month for 5 years, plus a gajillion more times for my cookbook, you do the math).

But I’ve found that if you do something enough times, you start looking for different ways to make things interesting, not because you’re bored or tired of the original, but just because you can. Probably kinda like how Kobe can throw up that occassional left-handed runner when there’s absolutely no need to (I am by no means calling myself the “Kobe Bryant of Pinakbet Preparers.” But maybe Nick Van Exel is more appropriate—my pinakbet is good and dependable, yet open to occassional fits of craziness [humblebrag]).

So that’s what I did with my latest Pinakbet–I just did something a bit different for the heck of it, but with great results. This is a simple variation on the “classic” Filipino vegetable stew. And by “classic”, I mean within the context of my own family. Your classic Pinakbet might contain cubes of kabocha squash, tender
okra, lima beans, and a healthy smattering of Bagoong (fermented shrimp paste). And
that’s fine. But in my family, my Great Auntie Puyong (The Michael
Jordan of Pinakbet Preparers) uses just tomatoes, onions, garlic,
eggplant, bittermelon, longbeans, Lechon Kawali, and fish sauce. Simple.
Straighforward. Streamlined. Just the way I like it.


Oven-Roasted Pinakbet with Bacon

OK. So now to that variation I was talking about. Actually, there’s a couple. First, instead of Lechon Kawali, I use bacon in this version. Specifically, I roast a few slices of bacon in a roasting pan in the oven. After the bacon is nice and crisp, I remove it from the pan, but leave in the tasty drippings. Then I take my vegetables and throw them into the roasting pan and toss them about until they are all nice and slicked with bacon fat. And into the oven the vegetables go.

So, if you’re keeping score at home, instead of layering the vegetables in a pot on the stovetop and steaming them in their own juices (the traditional way), they are roasted into submission in the oven. And like any other vegetables roasted in the oven, the Pinakbet veg obtain a certain sweetness that they could not have gotten by steaming (even the bitter melon, to a certain extent). The onions, garlic, and cherry tomatoes get especially sweet after a roast in the oven, and the eggplant acts like a sponge and soaks up much of the bacon fat and flavor.

Towards the end of roasting, I stir in a couple tablespoons of fish sauce. Admittedly, the finished Pinakbet is nowhere near as soupy as I usually like it (it’s not soupy at all, in fact), but this drier version is a good change of pace.

Oh, and that bacon? It’s crumbled atop everything just before serving.

Oven-Roasted Pinakbet with Bacon

Serves 4-6

4-6 slices bacon
1 pint cherry tomatoes, left whole
1 medium onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 Asian eggplant, cut in half lengthwise, and then cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 large bittermelon, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed, and then cut into 1/2-inch chunks
15-20 longbeans, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Water, as needed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Arrange the slices of bacon in a single layer in a large roasting pan. Place the bacon in the oven and roast until crispy, about 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pan.

Add all of the vegetables to the roasting pan and toss until everything is coated in the remaining bacon grease. Place the roasting pan into the oven and roast the vegetables for 30 minutes, gently tossing and stirring the vegetables every 10 minutes.

During the last 10 minutes of roasting, stir in the fish sauce. If you find that any of the vegetables begin to burn or stick to the pan, add a few tablespoons of water to deglaze. The vegetables are done when they are wilted, caramelized, and tender. Some cherry tomatoes will burst, some won’t; it’s all good.

Crumble the bacon over the vegetables just before serving. Serve with steamed white rice.

Oven-Roasted Pinakbet with Bacon

  • Charlynne B August 30, 2012, 5:47 am

    I love pinakbet and I love roasted vegetables (and I love bacon). I can’t wait to try this version! Brilliant!

    Reply
  • Shipwrekkt August 30, 2012, 8:02 am

    Cool! I’ve been meaning to try making pinakbet, but some of the ingredients are hard to come by. It looks like I could attempt this version. Will it be shameful if I use liquid smoke instead of bacon to make it vegetarian-ish?

    Reply
  • caninecologne September 1, 2012, 6:51 pm

    I’d love to try this version when the weather gets cooler. Roasting these types of vegetables (especially bittermelon, my favorite) is making me anxious to do this. the addition of bacon is also a neat twist!
    My mom has taken to making pinakbet without the bagoong in her attempt to make it healthier. it’s pretty good without the bagoong, but i prefer it with.

    Reply
  • sandrita September 2, 2012, 1:52 am

    patis is a good substitute for bagoong if people find bagoong too fishy. patis is, after all, that pure golden amber liquid that forms on top of good bagoong.

    Reply
  • Amanda September 5, 2012, 9:44 pm

    I love pinakbet! What a fun post, too! Can’t wait to try out this recipe.

    Reply
  • Camille September 13, 2012, 10:36 pm

    I can’t wait to try it this way!

    Reply
  • gabriela September 18, 2012, 12:51 am

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    Reply
  • Dexie September 25, 2012, 3:58 pm

    Wow. What a great idea. I will have to try this sometime. I actually like my pinakbet without all that sauce so this works for my preference.

    Reply
  • Michael G September 30, 2012, 3:14 pm

    This is a wonderful idea to bring out the freshness and sweetness of the vegetables. I used thin cut pork belly instead of bacon and balayan instead of patis. I tossed the veggies in the balayan and a little olive oil then sprinkled bits of the pork around. Great stuff!

    Reply
  • Red October 4, 2012, 10:20 pm

    Oven-Roasted Pinakbet with Bacon. I didn’t know it until I started writing this particular post, but 5 years ago, I wrote about how I first learned to …

    Reply
  • oven repair October 6, 2012, 5:39 am

    After read this i want to eat it as soon as possible as you mention pinakbet is so much tasty vegetable. You mention above it is your favorite food in the whole world. So i just want to taste it how much is tasty it is.

    Reply
  • Anna Banana October 21, 2012, 12:54 am

    Your original pinakbet is similar to how my aunts and mom make pinakbet! it’s the Ilocano way except sometimes they add sweet potato cubes or okra:-) I always request for cubes of camote (sweet potato) in my pinakbet, it adds a yummy sweetness and I think sweet potato cubes would do well in the roasted version too. I hope to try cooking your oven roasted version soon!

    Reply
  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen October 29, 2012, 7:30 am

    Just revisited your oven-roasted pinakbet recipe again & it is so amazing. Must make this one today. I have all the ingredients including the bacon. Thanks for sharing this, Marvin! You and your pinakbet truly rock!

    Reply
  • Cheryl November 4, 2012, 7:34 pm

    I made this tonight and WOW! Thanks for starting a party in my mouth. DH loved it; kids, like I did, may need more time to embrace their heritage.

    Reply

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