The most pungent of aromas was wafting out of our kitchen a few days ago and since I am on a quasi-diet and my sense of smell is heightened when it comes to food, I just had to get up and stick my head in the kitchen to see what was cooking. Omigosh, a fantastic kawali full of binagoongang baboy (pork with shrimp paste) was the crew’s lunch that day. I love this stuff but I resisted the urge to have some as well as I cannot eat this dish without a LOT of white rice. Throw in some pickles of some sort like burong mangga or achara and I would have consumed nearly a thousand calories in one sitting…
I know many of you are NOT on a diet so I post this simple recipe for your benefit… I pity your neighbors, however, if you don’t live in the Philippines, frying bagoong has to be up there on the list of off-putting odors along with frying dried fish. To make cube 1.5-2.0 kilos of pork and place it in a pot, fill with water to cover meat and add 3/4 cup vinegar, several cloves of garlic that have been peeled and crushed, a bay leaf and some whole peppercorns. Boil this gently for about half an hour and skim off the scum that forms on the surface of the liquid. When the pork is tender, extract the meat and strain the other solids out of the broth which should be set aside for use later in the recipe.
In a pan, heat up some vegetable oil and saute some chopped onions and garlic until fragrant and the onions are translucent. Add back the drained pork and stir to mix. Add about 3 tablespoons of bagoong (shrimp paste) or more if you desire it, and stir. Add some of the pork broth if your preference is for a more saucy version. The one pictured here is a bit on the dry side. Add some freshly ground black pepper and cook a few minutes longer. another variation would include some chopped siling mahaba to add spice to the dish. Serve this hot with lots of white rice and a green vegetable of some sort. The saltiness of the bagoong and the comforting taste of pork make an unusual but delicious pairing. Which also reminds me, we used to eat sauteed kamias with bagoong as a sawsawan as kids…did anyone else do that? My salivary glands are working overtime!