Dinuguan comes from the root word dugo, or blood. This dish is so named because it is a stew made with the blood of a freshly-slaughtered pig. Traditionally cooked using a mixture of pork cheeks, lungs and intestines, this version — made with pork belly, cheeks and liver — should make the not-too-adventurous less squeamish.
But… blood? Sure. Blood. Cooking with blood is nothing new and not even unique to the Philippines. Dishes cooked with blood are found in various cuisines — Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, British, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Scandinavian… Blood sausages and haggis are made with blood.
The blood of freshly-slaughtered pig is available in local wet markets. The blood is usually kept in a cooler so, when sold, there are often solid masses. That doesn’t mean that the blood isn’t fresh. It is natural for blood to coagulate when it cools. In Antipolo, where we live, the butcher gives it for free with the purchase of meat.
Dinuguan (Filipino Pork and Blood Stew)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable cooking oil
- 500 grams pork belly cut into one-inch cubes
- 500 grams pork cheeks cut into one-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup vinegar
- 1 head garlic minced
- 2 thumb-sized knobs ginger peeled and finely chopped
- 2 shallots or one onion, roughly chopped
- 5 to 6 finger chilis
- patis (fish sauce) to taste
- pepper to taste
- 2 to 4 cups fresh pork blood
- 1/4 kilogram pork liver thinly sliced
Heat the cooking oil in a pan.
Add the pork and cook over high heat, stirring often, until the meat is no longer pink.
Pour in the vinegar. Stir. Cook, uncovered, until the vinegar has been absorbed by the pork.
Cook the pork in the oil and rendered fat for a few minutes.
Add the garlic, shallots (or onion), ginger and chilis. Season with fish sauce and pepper. Stir. Cook until the vegetables soften.
Pour in the blood. Note that if there are solid masses, you can press them through a strainer before adding to the pork. I don’t mind the solid masses although I mash them with my hands to make sure that there are no too large pieces.
Stir. Wait for the mixture to boil.
The blood will turn from red to brown as it cooks. When the mixture boils, lower the heat, cover and simmer for an hour or until the pork is done. The sauce will reduce and thicken as it cooks, don’t be tempted to add water unless you want a soupy dinuguan.
Taste the stew from time to time and adjust the seasonings, as needed.
When the pork is tender, add the liver. Stir. Simmer for another ten minutes.
Garnish the dinuguan with slices of chili and scallions before serving.