4 ounces skinless pork belly, small dice
1 tablespoon Filipino sautéed shrimp paste
4 large shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 medium Anaheim chile, seeds and ribs removed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips (used Poblano pepper)
12 ounces kabocha squash (about 1/4 medium squash), peeled, seeded, and large dice
8 ounces tomatoes (about 2 small), cored and large dice
8 ounces Chinese or Japanese eggplant (about 1 large), trimmed and large dice (omitted)
8 ounces okra, stems trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
*4 ounces haricot vert, chopped
*1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the pork belly in a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate; set aside.
Increase the heat to medium, add the shrimp paste, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the chile and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add the squash, stir to combine, cover with a tight fitting lid, and simmer until the squash starts to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stir to combine, cover, and simmer until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant, and cayenne pepper stir to combine, cover, and simmer until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. (If the stew is looking a bit dry at this point, add 2 tablespoons of water.) Add the okra, stir to combine, cover, and simmer until the okra is crisp-tender and bright green, about 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat, add the reserved pork belly, and stir to combine. Taste, season with salt and pepper as needed, and serve immediately.
*Pakbet or Pinakbet popular Ilokano dish, from northern part of the Philippines. When I was growing up I never like eating it, we don’t really make it as often too. Just recently I have learned to love it, I just tweaked it to my liking. I found Paul Qui of Top Chef version was perfect. He kept vegetables crisps and mushy. I omitted the eggplant because I’m allergic to it, just added haricot vert. Maybe next time I can add zucchini and bitter gourd. enJOY!!!