Binagoongan (Sauteed Pork in Shrimp Paste)

For years, I used brown and sweet bagoong (shrimp paste) for pakbet, kare-kare, and binagoongan, as dipping condiment to the likes of nilaga and sinigang, and even as toppings to unripe mangoes. For some reason, my sister likes it and sends me jars of it when we were still based in Beijing. So just imagine how ecstatic I was to see pink bagoong at the Asian dairy. Pardon me but I just love this type – salty and no trace of sugar. Para sa akin ito ang tunay na bagoong alamang. Yung palengkeng bagoong na binibili sa tabi-tabi ng nanay ko. (I just couldn’t figure out why bagoong has to be sweet.) So I bought a jar and cooked pork binagoongan right away. My recipe here is really pretty basic.

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Pakbet or pinakbet is probably the most famous Ilocano dish. It is also one of the very first dishes that I learned to cook at age… 8 or 9? I forgot. I did overcook the vegetables a few times before Dad finally told me they don’t have to be always overdone. Well, they ate my pakbet delightfully during those times, maybe just to show some appreciation.

Below is based on my sister’s recipe though it isn’t exactly how our Ilocano dad cooks it. I already have a habit of frying the garlic before the pork which, in dad’s case, is the other way around. With the bitterness of ampalaya or bittergourd, my sister gave me an advice on how to get rid of it. Different from what dad taught us, which is to salt it for about 10 minutes. Ate instructed me not to stir once this vegetable is added to the cooking pan. She did just that when she visited us here in Beijing few months ago and proved her point. She said she got the trick from a friend who said the vegetable is a common ingredient in their household cooking.

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Lasang Pinoy 2: Pritong Tilapia & Talong con Kamatis at Bagoong

This post is for the Food Blogging Event: LASANG PINOY 2 – Cooking Up a Storm, food you associate with typhoons, hurricanes, or storms. I guess it is also noteworthy to mention here my very successful invitation to Mike of La Fang to join Lasang Pinoy 2. All I did was just show him the link to Lasang Pinoy 1 (hosted remarkably by Karen & Stef) and voila! He’s in! It’s also quite a feat to influence that busy guy to even start food-blogging by showing him my own amateurish blog. For a minute I really thought I must have been a successful salesperson in another life.

Would it be easy to remember those rainy days back home? Though much has been said about China’s rainy season for the past months which has led to serious flooding in the north-east and south of the country that I have been asked several times if we are ok here in Beijing, it’s interesting to point out that a typical rainy day here is way too tame compared to one back home. Still, I remember lots of food that I could associate w/ stormy weather but quite impossible for me to cook/prepare in Beijing. These are the following:

1. tuyo or dried fish combined with salted tomatoes – tuyo not being available here.
2. fried galunggong (mackerel scad) & monggo (mung bean) – galunggong not available here & w/ monggo… mike you beat me to the punch!
3. fried daing na bangus (milkfish cut lengthwise along the back but not breaking the skin) – aside from the fact that I am still looking for that fish here, it was already an entry last month
4. unripe (and sour) mango w/ [i]bagoong[/i] (shrimp paste or fermented salted shrimps) – mangoes oh how I miss my tropical homeland
5. hot chocolate made of tablea (chocolate tablets made from cacao beans) or kapeng barako (brewed coffee made of liberica bean variety) from Batangas (my mom’s hometown) – the closest here would be starbucks

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