Deep-fried roast pork, shreds of bracing and peppery mustard leaves, juicy tomatoes and a bagoong-lime dressing were an ABSOLUTE HIT the first time we tried it at home. So popular, in fact, I have to find a way to offer this at the restaurants at least as a special to see if others are as enthusiastic about the combination as we are. Finding really good mustasa on a regular basis in Cebu might not be so easy, but perhaps if we ever opened in Manila this would be easier to do…
The success comes from a variety of roots… the Central luzon tradition of using the flavorful mustasa leaves to envelop some pungent filling like burong hipon, fried fish or meat, etc. The seemingly natural affinity of bagoong or shrimp paste with pork. The mixture of flavors and textures, from fatty, crunchy, bitter, sharp, salty, soft and juicy, and all in one mouthful makes this a dish likely to be loved… Filipino food is sometimes less-multidimensional than say well spiced and herbed Thai or Vietnamese food, but this dish lets off firecrackers in the mouth.
To make, fry up some pork belly, hocks (para), etc. OR some fish of some sort. Chop up some fresh mustasa or mustard greens that have been soaked in water to return them to maximum freshness, then dry thoroughly in a spinner. Make a dressing of lime juice (or kalamansi) with bagoong and whatever else you fancy and toss everything together just before serving. I know I call it a salad, but you HAVE to eat this with some freshly cooked rice. It’s really a leafy viand, if you ask me. Delicious and super easy to make.