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Don't touch my dinengdeng!
3/3/2012 8:10:56 PM




If there is one thing I am very passionate about, it is my love of dinengdeng. Yes, dinengdeng. That exotic ilokano bagoong-based dish only a pure ilokano can give justice to, to its flavor, taste and aroma.

My love of dinengdeng started when I was young. We eat dinengdeng everyday: at breakfast, lunch and dinner, and in between. I thought, at that time, ito lang ang ulam na pedeng kainin ng pamilya namin. My grandfather was a farmer so we have ample supply of fresh vegetables everyday and my dear nanang was happy enough to concoct them into dinengdeng.

When my father came home to retire from years of working in Agana, Guam, as an OFW, I thought, at that time, this dinengdeng will be a thing of the past. Boy, was I wrong! Instead, my beloved dinengdeng improve to a certain degree: mayrun ng sahog na inihaw na dalag, bangus o tilapia every single time my nanang cook dinengdeng.

I can smell a true and pure ilokano dinengdeng 10 houses down. I know dinengdeng. My family 's happiness revolves around dinengdeng....fifty years later, I still eat my dinengdeng, using the same recipe my nanang entrusted me. It never fails. My kids will tell you that too.

I am telling you this because of what happen a few days ago.

A tagalog friend of mine invited me for dinner and serve me this dish she proudly calls dinengdeng. Bless her heart. She had the nerve to tell me she has the best dinengdeng dito sa Maryland. I hold my judgement. She even told me na kapag natikman ko ang dinengdeng niya ay baka makalimutan ko na ang dinengdeng ko. That's when those little bad boys in my head started to scream. Nay, nay.

Sabi nila: do not judge an ulam by its look. I can judge dinengdeng by the aroma of bagoong, when mixed with the burned skin of inihaw na dalag o bangus.

So we eat. Then I lectured her on Dinengdeng 101. Pure ilokano dinengdeng has only 5 or 6 ingredients, namely, 2 cups of string beans, 1 cup of chinese eggplant, 1 cup of sliced ampalaya, quarter cup of pure bagoong and 1 cup of sliced tomatoes. At wag mong kalimutan yung inihaw na dalag, hito o tilapia para sa sahog. 1 cup of water is all you need. No more, no less. For if you add another cup of water that dinengdeng will become vegetable soup.

I always laugh when friends, who pretend to know dinengdeng, compare my dinengdeng to their dinengdeng. First of all, a pure ilokano dinengdeng does not contain any trace of oil, so kung sahugan mo ng fried fish o karne o lechon kawali kaya sira na ang lasa ng dinengdeng. Pinakbet na ang tawag dun!

At hindi po ginigisa ang dinengdeng. Never ever! Walang luya, walang sibuyas ang pure dinengdeng and, get this, hindi po umaapaw ang sabaw ng dinengdeng.

So, kung walang luya, walang onion, at hindi rin ginigisa, ano ang lasa? It tastes like...... heaven with the flavor and aroma of la union bagoong! Pure ilokano dinengdeng!

Ok, call it whatever you want: diningding, dingding, whatever. Just don't make fun of this exotic ilokano dish because once you tried my dinengdeng you'd be begging me for the rest of your life. (mangproc aka Brad).








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