Mang Tomas: Man or Sauce?

In food on 09/29/2009 at 11:17 am

My Filipino friend mentioned during our housewarming piglet-out that there’s a secret sauce that they use to accompany roasted pork: mang tomas. He was going to get me a bottle from the elusive Filipino market in the wilds of Queens, but I thought, why not try to find a recipe and make it myself?

I’m still waiting for him to get back to me on his mother’s review of my first ever attempt at dinuguan via her recipe. I did add a secret ingredient which I thought I tasted in her version but wasn’t in her list of ingredients: grated ginger. His only comment was we didn’t use enough blood. The stew is supposed to be very thick and hide all the bits of offal, like molten black lava creeping down the volcano in Hawaii’s national park. I told him our Asian mart didn’t have any cow’s blood, and I figured one tub of pig’s blood would be enough. I agreed with him though, it’s all about the black sauce oozing on top of the white rice.

I found out after the party that the other half’s intake of innards has increased 100% since meeting me. I am so proud. In this incarnation of dinuguan, I used pig heart, tongue, snout, kidney, stomach, intestine, blood, and just for variety, beef tendon. Ha, take that, Thomas Keller! I didn’t even use up all the offal we bought. There are more portioned out packets in the freezer for future experimentation in perfecting this soul-stirring dish. (As I write this post, I am chomping down some dinuguan leftovers for lunch.)

I started looking up this mysterious tangy-sweet-sour-spicy chili sauce that you automatically get from the piglet man in the Filipines. I came across this blog post which goes into the history of a butcher named Mang Tomas who invented the eponymous liver sauce. A sauce based on an innard? Fantastic! I figure the guy probably had tons of innards laying about after slaughtering thousands of piggies and thought, why not have a dipping sauce made from the piggy itself? It’s a beautiful circle of life/foodie (loodie?) kind of thing, don’t you think?

Liver would be a perfect vehicle for dipping not just meat because it’s pureéd creamy and thick. Maybe with some crudite? It is touted as ‘all-purpose’ on the Mang Tomas brand of bottled sauces available online. Nowadays though, there doesn’t seem to be any actual liver in the ingredient list. I think they use breadcrumbs as a substitute for texture and bulk, like I did when I made the vegetarian moussaka. Oh for heaven’s sake, isn’t that just wrong?

1 pound liver (chicken is most tender)
1/2 cup native vinegar (Datu Puti brand)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (toast some bread and crumple up)
5 Tbsp minced garlic
1 minced onion
salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 hot pepper (optional)

Saute onion and garlic till fragrant. Add chicken liver, chop up beforehand or mash up with fork when cooked through, ~ 5 minutes. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes until flavors well combined and sauce thickens.

Use an immersion blender to zap into a fine dipping sauce.

Don’t forget to order the lechon!
man and sauce!

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