Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Binagoongan Baboy (Stewed Pork with Fermented Shrimp Paste)

Filipinos have this stinky condiment called "bagoong" or fermented shrimp paste. My hubby, an American, cannot stand it when I cook with it. It smells like dirty socks stewed in armpit juice. Well, you get the picture. But for someone who grew up with it, it smells like heaven, gastronomic heaven.

Different Asian cultures have their own version of bagoong. In Indonesian, they have "terasi", in Thailand they use "kapi", in Malaysia shrimp paste is referred to as "belacan", "mắm tôm" in Vietnam, and "hamho" in China. In Korea, they also have salted shrimp fry but not that fermented like "bagoong" or "belacan".

One of my favorite viands for lunch is "Binagoongan Baboy" which means stewed pork in shrimp paste. It's quite easy and very flavorful. Here's how to make it.

Binagoongan Baboy

500 grams fatty pork, preferably from the belly or spare ribs cut in 2-inch cubes
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 onion, minced
1 medium tomato, minced
4 cups water
1/2 cup bagoong (shrimp paste)
1 tbsp oil
2 pieces of green chili, stemmed and cut into two

1. In a pot, add water and pork and bring to a boil. Cook until the pork is tender. When the pork is cooked, take it out of the pot and set aside the pork stock.

2. In a large wok (with a cover), add the oil and heat until hot. Add the pork cubes and cook until all pieces are golden-brown. Make sure to cover the wok since the pork would make the oil splatter.

3. When the pork cubes are golden-brown, take out the pork pieces and take out the rendered fat/oil but leave about a tablespoon in the wok.

4. Heat the oil again in the wok and add minced garlic. Fry until golden-brown. Add the onion and fry for a minute or until they are translucent. Then add the tomatoes and stir-fry for about2-3 minutes.

5. Add the bagoong to the wok, stir thoroughly. Add the pork cubes and stir-fry for a minute. Add a cup of the pork stock and let simmer. Lower the temperature and let the pork cook until the sauce has been cooked down to half the amount.

6. When the sauce has thickened, turn off the heat and serve the binagoongan baboy with freshly cooked rice. Plenty of it.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Asian Veggie Stir-Fry

I was feeling blah again last night about dinner. We've been pigging out on roasted chicken and roasted pork loin. My inner rabbit was craving for veggies to eat. I figured that since I had celery, carrots, button mushrooms and broccoli in the fridge, why not make a stir-fry?

And that's what I did. Stir-frys are the best way to fix a quick, easy side dish. And a great way to empty out the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator. Here's how I did mine.


1/2 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 rib celery, washed and cut diagonally into slices
1/2 white onion, cut into quarters
1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 broccoli, washed, cut into small florets and the stem peeled and sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp cooking oil
1 cup pork stock (or any kind of stock that you have - chicken, veggie, etc.)
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsbp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

1. Take a wok or a deep pan and heat the oil. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2-3 minutes. You will see that the mushrooms will have started to "sweat" or give off liquid. Add the minced garlic and thoroughly stir-fry.

2. Add the carrots, broccoli stems (not the florets!) and celery. Stir-fry for more than a minute. Now add the broccoli florets and the pork stock.

3. Let simmer for two minutes. Add the onion quarters. In a small bowl, mix the oyster sauce, corn starch (if you have potato starch so much the better) and water. Mix thoroughly and add to the pan. Stir-fry everything and let simmer for a minute.

4. When the sauce has simmered to a nice, thick sauce, the veggie stir-fry is done and ready to serve.

Serve this as a side dish or as a vegetarian topping on rice in a bowl. Or top it over ramen noodles and even cooked spaghetti noodles.

Another Deokkbokki Recipe (Korean Rice Cakes in Sweet-Savory Sauce)

I have blogged about making Korean Rice Cakes in Red Pepper Sauce (Deokkbokki) in my first blog. You can read it here. This kind of spicy deokkbokki is the most popular way to cook the long rice sticks and can be found in almost any snack stand here in Korea.

But there is another way to cook deokkbokki - the sweet, savory way. My korean friend, BB, taught me how to fix this snack. She served it to me one time as a snack and I was fascinated with the sweet and savory flavor with a hint of garlicky goodness. Now let me share with you how to make this quick snack.

First you need to assemble these ingredients:
Deokkbokki (korean rice cakes), vienna sausages, carrots, dried mushrooms, garlic, onion and leeks or celery. Not in the picture are cooking syrup (or Karo syrup or any pancake syrup), cooking oil and dark soy sauce.

For the rice cakes, if you buy them fresh like what I get from the local korean market, there's nothing to do with them before cooking. But if you get them from the grocery chiller, chances are they would be hard and stuck to each other.

The key is to soak them in hot water for about 30 minutes. They would soften and be easy to pull apart.

Next, prep the ingredients by cutting the carrots and the celery/leeks into thin sticks. Slice the onion thinly. Mince the garlic. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water to reconstitute them. Cut the vienna sausage diagonally, lengthwise. (For measurements, you would need half a carrot, half an onion, one celery rib or 2 leek stalks, 1 cup of dried mushrooms, 1 tbsp of garlic and 1 cup of vienna sausage.)

Now take a deep pan or a wok and add about 2 tbsps of cooking oil. Drain the rice sticks and place into the pan. Stir-fry for about half a minute and then add the vegetables (carrots and celery). Stir-fry for about a minute. Drain the mushrooms, squeeze them before adding to the pan. Add the vienna sausage last. Stirfry for about 1 minute. Now add the minced garlic and mix until everything is well-coated.

Now add about 4 tbsps of soy sauce and then 2 tbsps of cooking syrup. Mix everything and let simmer for a minute or two. If it looks too dry, add more syrup. If it is too wet, just let it simmer longer. It'll be ready when the sauce has coated everything in the pan. Cooking time is between 10 to 15 minutes total. I told you this was a quick and easy snack to fix.

To serve, just scoop the deokkbokki on to a plate and serve with toothpicks (like what koreans do). Take a piece of deokkbokki, eat. Then take a sausage, eat. Take a piece of deokkbokki, eat. Then follow it up with with a veggie or a mushroom. You get the picture. Before long, you'll be cleaning up the plate and licking the sweet-savory sauce in the end. (Not saying that's what I did but...) :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Great Celery Salad

You heard me right, I made Celery Salad. I had a bunch of celery in my fridge was faced with a dilemna that most shoppers had when buying celery. Usually, recipes only call for a small amount of celery. But you can't buy celery for just a teensy-tiny amount. Celery comes in he-man sizes as big as my thigh here in Korea.

So I had this celery in my fridge and most of the upper leaves have already wilted. Then while reading the Food & Dining section of the New York Times paper online, I found interesting recipes for celery. One of them was a recipe for celery and raw mushrooms, button mushrooms to be exact.I was kinda leery about the raw button mushrooms bit. But the instructions was to
slice the mushrooms very thinly.

Like so with the celery, the celery ribs should be washed very well, dried and then sliced thinly. Then you can add other veggies of your choice: like thinly-sliced carrots (for color and additional texture), thinly sliced white onions (which I think every salad should have) and some green sprouts to substitute for the parsley that is suggested in the recipe. Then you toss everything in a large bowl to get it all nicely mixed up.

Then, you take a handful or two and pile it on your plate. It looked interesting, by this time I was wondering if it was going to taste good as well. I had never had eaten raw mushrooms before, well, except for enoki mushrooms.

I had some stale, thick bread in my freezer. I decided it was time to make croutons. It's really easy to make them. You take a hot pan, drizzle generously with olive oil, toss in your bread cubes and some minced garlic. Drizzle more olive oil and keep stirring the pan until the cubes become nicely brown and toasted. Sprinkle some iodized salt and pepper and continue tossing for about a minute or too. Take out from the pan, let cool and taste it. Oh man, it's so good even for snacking.

Now this is my plate, with the croutons and a generous drizzle of antipasto salad dressing. If you don't have this kind of dressing, any tart salad dressing will do like a vinagrette or lemon-based dressing. I tasted a forkful and I was in heaven. The creamy mushroom slices was a perfect foil for the crunchy celery, onion and carrot. It was a great salad. And the perfect start for our dinner tonight - Spaghetti.