Achara/atsara (pronounced as “AT-Sa-RAH”) is a favourite Pinoy pickle made of green papaya and other julienned vegetables. There are several versions of achara and any vegetable can be used for making this making this tasty side dish.
The classic achara recipe, however, uses unripe or green papaya grated or julienned, grated carrots, grated onion, medium red capsicum or green and red bell peppers (also julienned), raisins and two tablespoons of salt. The julienned vegetables are pickled in a syrup made of sugar, julienned ginger, cloves of garlic and freshly ground pepper.
As a side dish or condiment, achara is often eaten with roasted fish or barbecued chicken.
Pinakbet or pakbet is a popular Ilocano dish, from northern Philippines although this vegetable-based dish has become popular throughout the country. The word is the contracted form of the Ilocano word pinakebbet, meaning “shrunk” or “shrivelled.”
The original Ilocano pinakbet uses fermented fish paste or bagoong (monamon) or other fish, while further south, bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) is used. The basic vegetables ingredients include native bitter melon, eggplant, tomato, ginger, okra, string beans, lima beans, chilli peppers, parda and winged beans. A Tagalog (central Luzon) version usually includes calabaza or yellow squash. Most of these vegetables are easily accessible, and are grown in backyards and gardens of most Ilocano households.
As the name suggests pinakbet is cooked until almost dry and the vegetables are shrivelled and the flavours accentuated by bagoong (shrimp paste). In some cases, lechon, chicharon, or other meats (most commonly pork) are added as garnish.