Let me start by saying each region, town and even household seems to have its own special version of dinuguan. This is an important starting point, because I don’t want to declare one better than the other, or one more authentic than the other. I have read over a dozen recipes for dinuguan in preparation for the next few posts, and reviewed reader comments on previous posts to get a feel for the variety of ways it is prepared. Historically, I like the logic behind the explanation that the chieftains, hacienderos, merchants and other leaders of society were likely to be the ones to fork out the big bucks for a lechon, but it was the “back of the house” or workers who ended up with the offal or innards. As such, each household made do with whatever ingredients and resources they had, to come up with a tasty and now iconic stew of pig’s innards in blood sauce… dinuguan. In our Cebu office, Victor is the recognized dinuguan or dugo-dugo expert, and this is how he made his version.
The first thing we did was slaughter a medium sized pig, some 35 kilos in weight, and removed and cleaned its lungs, heart, liver, intestines, etc. These were washed several times and intestines turned inside out until they were considered clean… They still had that characteristic almost chlorine like smell that is off-putting for some. Next, Victor declared that Cebuano dinuguan rarely includes the liver, for the liver can be sold for a premium price and they aren’t used to the liver texture in their dish, so they typically omit it. And finally, for his version, no chopped ginger, which is an ingredient I often see in recipes… We agreed that Victor would use half the innards and I would use the other half for my maiden attempt at a dinuguan. The innards were then placed in a pot of water and brought to a boil. I added sliced ginger, peppercorns and a bit of vinegar to the pot in the hope that it would help result in a very fresh tasting and smelling bunch of innards. The water was salted just before the innards were removed. The liver was blanched separately and set aside. Victor then proceeded to mince everything quite finely with a cleaver on a large sampalok chopping board. Others like their a coarser chop…
Into a large kawali over a high flame, Victor added about 3 tablespoons of homemade lard. He then sauteed finely minced garlic, waiting for it to turn golden before adding the minced white onions, and white part of green onions.
He then added some chopped green chilies (which turned out to be much milder than we all expected) and sauteed this all until softened. He then added half of the blanched then minced innards (excluding the liver) and cooked this for several minutes.
A couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, some bay leaves and some freshly cracked black pepper were also added in.
The blood, which had some coconut vinegar added to it to prevent hardening, had in fact coagulated a bit, and it had to be worked by hand, together with some smashed lemongrass or tanglad to return it to a bloody consistency. About 2 cups or slightly more were added to the pot and everthing stirred until the blood turned a darker color. Victor added some water to get the right consistency. We were scrimping on blood as I had planned two more experiments. More vinegar and salt were added until if passed the taste test…
And a few minutes later we had Dinuguan (dugo-dugo) a la Victor. He garnished with the green onions… I tasted a teaspoon of this and it was delicious. A nice balance of sourness and meatiness and sauciness. Great with rice, which I wasn’t allowed even a single grain of due to my diet… Next up, Marketman’s version of dinuguan with innards… :)