Dinuguan Rah Rah!

In food on 01/11/2009 at 4:57 pm

All this talk of vinegar in savories and sweets brings up the cuisine that is the queen of tang: Filipino food, and the one dish that embodies all that I love about ethnic cuisine, dinuguan. This guisado of blood and innards represents my belief that a collection of flavors becomes more than the sum of its parts. There is speculation that this dish was descended from the Spartans, that legendary race of men who subsisted on the Atkin’s diet. Gives new insight into why they were so bloodthirsty, right?

I first encountered this dish at Elvie’s Turo-Turo near Union Square. Before this, I had tried balut from Chinatown, but found it to be too crunchy and quite frankly, scary to eat. Still, not as repulsive as cow penis. Tamarind is another staple in the cuisine which I’ve used for soups. It adds a nice zip and fruit to a dish that’s a little different from plain vinegar. Dinuguan takes all the unmentionable, but tasty, bits and covers them in a blanket of charcoal grey gravy so you can just enjoy the flavors.

Where to procure pig’s blood? In Chinatown butcher shops you can purchase coagulated blocks. There are dishes which call for julienned blood in Taiwanese recipes, like pickled mustard greens and blood, which I consider a distant cousin of dinuguan. That dish arrives at the table at restaurants with a little pomp and circumstance, accompanied by its own Sterno burner, keeping it nice and bubbly throughout the entire meal. With our immersion blender Christmas present arriving in the mail from Father and Mother, there will be many attempts at this treasured dish in the future.

My appetite for dinuguan was whetted the other day thanks to my Filipino foodie friend, who gifted me with a small container of it from his mother. The previous week I had started the gift exchange with a piece of our delightful red velvet cake. That evening, with a pot of rice by my side, I scarfed down every little drop of the stew, ooo-ing and ah-ing all the while. Said friend’s mom had elevated the dish even more by adding QQ large intestine pieces and upped with spice factor with ginger. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. My last meal would definitely have to include a side of dinuguan.

The perfect accompaniment for dinuguan is puto. But rice or noodles are easier.

Puto Ingredients:

1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup lard
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp evaporated milk
4 egg whites
1 Tbsp sugar (for egg whites)

Cream lard. When fluffy, add flour, baking powder, salt and milk.

In another bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Add sugar to keep the air in the beaten egg whites. Fold egg whites to mixture.

Pour into ramekins or ice cream tins. Steam for 20 minutes.

dinuguan pig

Dinuguan Ingredients:

1 lb Ground fatty pork (still the best!) or julienned pork shoulder
2 large pieces intestine, sliced (for the QQ factor; you can also add chopped liver, kidney, tongue, any innard that suits you)
2/3 cup Vinegar
1 lg sliced onion
6 cloves or more diced Garlic
1 cup pork blood mashed
2 Tbsp fish sauce (patis)
Chili flakes or siracha
handful of julienned Ginger
Salt & Pepper
Dash of soy sauce

Saute onion, ginger and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add pork until just cooked. Add  innards mix and water to cover. Simmer 20 minutes. Add blood and seasonings. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer another 10 minutes. Smother over rice or puto to serve.

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