Dinengdeng with Bilong-bilong is a variation of the Ilocano Dinengdeng wherein fried moonfish – which is called Bilong-bilong in some parts of the Philippines—is added towards the end of the cooking process. For those of you who are not familiar with dinengdeng, it is a simple vegetable dish that originated from the Ilocos region. It is mostly composed of in-season vegetables that can be harvested from ones backyard. The ingredients vary depending on what’s available during that day.
This Dinendeng with Bilong-bilong is a bit hyped because of the different vegetables involved. I was informed by an Ilocano friend that this dish can be as simple as having just green papaya, sitaw, and saluyot. Since I did not have the chance to scout for saluyot, I used malunggay instead. This is one of the reasons why I like having this dish: it is good for the health as long as you do not go beyond your daily recommended rice intake.
Note that you do not need to have all the vegetables listed below in order to cook this dish. As I’ve mentioned, the ingredients may vary. I think that using crispy fried moonfish is a good idea though because it added more flavor to the dish. I simply rubbed coarse rock salt all over the fish and lightly coated it with flour before frying. The flour prevents the oil from splattering when you fry the fish. This is optional though as you can fry the fish directly without it. I also saved a piece of crispy fried fish. I ate it along with the dinengdeng. It was a very pleasant experience. The meal is a perfect example of “IsKaGu” which stands for Isda, Kanin, at Gulay. Some of you might still recall this from a popular children’s program back in the days.
I think that there are similarities between the Ilocano dinengdeng and the bulanglang of Batangas; both dishes involve different kinds of vegetables boiled together. The difference is probably the use of bagoong and fried or grilled fish in the Ilocano version. It might be more comparable to the Ilonggo Laswa wherein shrimp are used instead of fish. Overall, these three superb dishes have their own identities and all of these are delicious and good for our body.
Try this Dinendeng with Bilong-bilong recipe. Let me know what you think.
- 2 pieces fried bilong-bilong (moonfish)
- 8 pieces sitaw (snake beans), cut in 2 inch length pieces
- 10 to 12 pieces okra
- 2 small ampalaya (bitter melon), cored and sliced
- 1½ cups malunggay
- 1 medium onion, wedged
- 2 medium tomato, quartered
- 3 thumbs ginger, crushed
- 3 tablespoons bagoong isda
- 2 to 2½ cups water
- Boil water in a cooking pot.
- Once the water boils, add ginger, onion, and tomato. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Pour the bagoong isda in the cooking pot. Stir.
- Add the ampalaya, okra, and sitaw. Stir. Let boil. Cover and then cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the malunggay and fried moonfish. Cover and then cook in medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve.
- Share and enjoy!