Pork Binagoongan (Pork with Shrimp Paste)
As I perused the busy aisles of supermarkets and grocery shops on weekends, I noticed that there are plenty of ready made sauces and culinary pastes confined in the shelves. These include the popular chili-garlic sauce, sambal chili, hoisin sauce and other Asian favorites. Among the choices to be had, it's the sambal chili that interests me most. It resembles very much of our own "bagoong alamang" (shrimp paste) both in taste and appearance except that it is mainly chili based. Sambal chili is a favorite condiment for Malaysian dishes such as the Nasi Lemak. It has a subtle sweet note that blends well with the hotness of the chili. It's a good accompaniment to food for a more enjoyable taste.
Back in the Philippines, "bagoong alamang" is typically used in one of the well-liked local dishes - Pork Binagoongan (Pork with Shrimp Paste). I tried to cook it here with the absence of the fresh shrimp paste. As an alternative to the fresh one, I used the bottled version which is already sauted. It's not as traditional as it should be but the taste profile still captured the same customary appeal.
How to make: In a wok, cook 3/4 kg of pork belly with 1/2 cup of vinegar and 3 cups of water until tender (adjust the amount of water if needed). Allow all liquids to evaporate and the meat to brown. Push the meat to one side of the wok, saute 1 med sized onion and 3 cloves garlic (both chopped) in pork fat until fragrant. Add 2 medium tomatoes (sliced) and saute for 1 min. Blend with the browned pork and add 2 - 3 tbsps of bottled bagoong alamang (shrimp paste). Saute for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and 2 tbsps sugar. Allow to boil and simmer until the pork is almost done. Add string beans and cook to just the right vegetable crisp texture. Serve while hot.