Filipino Pork Binagoongan
In the cuisine of the Philippines, a Binagoongan is a dish in which the primary ingredient is cooked with the Filipino fermented shrimp paste known as Bagoong Alamang. This particular version features pork as the main ingredient, and the tangy sweetness of the tomato based sauce is rounded out by both the umami depth of the shrimp paste, and just a touch of chili heat.
The Basic Method
Browning the pork is not a critical step, but harnessing the effects of the Maillard reaction always improves a dish by adding an additional distinct layer of flavor. To do this, it is usually best to work in small batches so as to avoid dropping the pan heat too much, thus causing the meat to ‘steam’ and toughen rather than fry.
This particular Pork Binagoongan cooks the meat in a fair amount of sauce. The tomatoes which form the sauce base in this recipe are fresh, rather than canned, and they are cooked at moderate heat with onion and garlic until they break down.
The sauce becomes a Binagoongang with the addition of the Bagoong Alamang. Also added, in this case, are sugar and vinegar for a sweet and sour effect, along with a little Sambal Oelek for some chili heat. You can use a chili paste other than Sambal Oelek of you like, and you may also wish to increase the very moderate fieriness of this particular recipe by increasing the amount to your taste.
Finally, the pork is added and everything is simmered until the pork is fork tender. If it ends up with the sauce being a bit too thin, you can always fire up the heat towards the end and reduce it a little.
For service, you can dish this up along with rice, while it is still piping hot. However, as with most soups, stews, or curries and the like, things always improve if you let the dish cool down and allow the flavors to blend while chilling overnight in the fridge.
Your Recipe Card:
Filipino Pork Binagoongan
- 1 1/2 lbs. Pork Shoulder cut in 1 ½” cubes;
- 2 cups fresh Tomatoes chopped;
- ½ cup minced Onion;
- 1 tbsp. minced Garlic;
- ½ cup Bagoong Alamang or other fermented shrimp paste;
- ½ cup Vinegar;
- 6 tbsp. Sugar;
- 1 Tbsp. Sambal Oelek or other chili paste;
- Heat a Tablespoon or two of oil in a pan over moderately high heat and quickly brown the pork cubes in two or three batches. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
- If necessary, add a little more oil to the pan and fry the garlic and onion until softened but not browned.
- Add the tomatoes and cook over a fairly high heat until they break down and form a sauce. Add the Bagoong, sugar, vinegar, sugar and chili paste and stir to blend the flavors.
- Finally add the pork and simmer for about 20 minutes or so. If the sauce is a little thin at this point, turn up the heat again and reduce as desired.
- Serve immediately as is, or chill everything overnight to let the flavors blend and then and re-heat for service the next day.