Thursday, March 27, 2008

COOKING FOR THE MARYKNOLLERS - part 2

Remember a while back when a small group of us went up to Arrowhead? The Maryknoll group? Well, dear Readers, we will be doing that again this weekend, with one additional person, so there will be four of us: Meldee Perez, Maria Ciocon, Med Villanueva, and me. The plan is I'll pick up Meldee who lives in the Westside, and we'll drive over to Upland and pick up Maria Ciocon. We'll have a late lunch, then drive up to Arrowhead to Med's house. We are planning a pot luck dinner and breakfast - our favorite Filipino comfort food once again. This time I'm fixing Binagoongang Baboy.

What, you may ask, is that?

It sounds terrible, but it's really good. It brings back memories of down-home meals in the homes we grew up in. It's not healthy - it has pork and is saltier than heck because of the shrimp fry. It's not anything one should eat often, but with the girls, why not?

Here's the recipe in the book, A La Carte: Food & Fiction (edited by another Maryknoller Marily Orosa, and myself) - award-winning, I might add (the Gourmand Award, remember?):

Binagoongang Baboy
1 kilo pork loin, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup vinegar (spicy preferred but not required)
1/2 cup bagoong, or for the Ilonggos, ginamus
6 cloves of garlic, crushed and then minced
6-10 peppercorns, crushed
2 bay leaves

Marinate the pork cutes in the othe ingredients overnight in the refrigerator. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large frying pan. Saute the bay leaves to bring out the fragrance. Add the marinated pork along with the marinade. Cook over a medium heat until the pork is nice and tender (30-45 minute). Check the frying pan every so often to make sure the sauce isn't drying out. If it is, lower th eheat and add 1/3 c. of water and stir.
Serve with rice, tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers.


In fact, I've altered the above recipe. I'm using pork hocks. I found some sliced around 1 1/2 inch thick, in my Filipino market (Seafood City, on Vermont). After washing them, I placed them in a huge pot. I got a nice lemon from my little prolific lemon tree and squeezed lemon juice on the meat. I was watching the Food Channel once and saw this Caribbean woman squeezing fresh lemon on the chicken she was fixing, and she said a blessing as she did that. She talked about the lemon removing smells and cleaning the chicken well. Ever since I saw that, I squeeze lemon on any meat I fix and say a little prayer that God bless this food that my family and friends will be eating, and I actually say a thanksgiving to God for the poor animal that gave up its life for us.

I put water into the pot - I have no idea how much, around 2/3rd pot-full? It's just to simmer the pork in, to tenderize it. I added 1/2 cup vinegar. Then I sliced onions and threw that in. I threw in 3 bay leaves and some black pepper. I also crushed 3-4 cloves of garlic and threw that in. I had some loose oregano and tossed a pinch in. I have not salted this because once the pork is tender, I'll mix in the bagoong in the last minute. Using pork hock and boiling it releases a kind of gel that marries with the bagoong into a nice sauce.

What gives this taste is the bagoong, which is wickedly salty and tasty. Americans say the stuff smells and perhaps it does, but the scent makes my mouth water, from all the years of associating it with food.

I saw another recipe that uses tomatoes, and I suppose it wouldn't hurt to add tomatoes. In fact, I wish I had some tomatoes to throw in.

That, dear Readers, is Cecilia's organic way of cooking Binagoongang Baboy!

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