Is it really February? Last Monday I thought it was Friday. Time is warped; I could be talking to you from 2010 [insert Twilight Zone or X-Files theme] and I’ll be conscious of the correct year in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… But you do understand what I mean, right? Time zoomed forward.
A couple of weeks ago my ol’ friend visited Vancouver. We go back as far as our Geology freshmen days in 1995. It’s been a good 8 or 9 years since we last saw each other when we were fresh graduates and newly-licensed professionals. Now, we are old(er), relocated in North America, and cook and share recipes. I gave him the recipe for Food For The Gods, and he taught me how to make this Filipino dish called “Igado” (pronounced as ee-ga-DOH, as if you’re saying fa-la-LAH).
Igado is a regional Filipino delicacy with fatty pork loin meat and pork liver cooked with red bell pepper and peas, in a salty-sour sauce. I love this dish but never had the gumption to make it until my friend indulged me with their family’s Ilocano recipe. The Ilocanos are people from the northern part of the Philippines. In my home country, different regions have different traditional dishes with distinct tastes, but there’s one common characteristic about Filipino dishes — they try to make as much use of what’s available from the ingredients. Call it the Third-World Factor™, not Fodder For Fear Factor™. Take igado, for example, instead of throwing out the skin with fat, it is cubed and fried until crispy; and except for the excess oil, the whole pork loin is used.
Check out the crispy browned fat with skin:
I know it sounds absolutely horrible and will send nutritionists and dietitians screaming out the door, but these are SO good to eat even on their own [disclaimer: Enjoy at your own risk. Don’t even think about eating the fried fat if you have heart, high blood, cholesterol or other health-related problems]. It’s used to flavor a lot of dishes, including boiled green mung beans. Eat in moderation, I always say.
Igado is an excellent make-head viand, just like Adobo. It tastes even better the day after, just make sure to keep it cold in the fridge and re-heat before serving. If you’re not into offal, you can skip the liver, but it wouldn’t taste the same. Perhaps you’ve been on the fence about finally trying liver and you’re just waiting for the recipe, consider making this.
The following recipe is not according to my friend’s specifications because he just estimated the amounts in his head when he made it. I took it upon myself, in the spirit of accuracy (whatever excuse I can make to cook this!), to re-create the dish while measuring everything for you and for our future reference. Enjoy!
- • 1¾ lb pork loin with fat and skin (remove fat with the and cut into 1-cm dices; cut remaining pork meat into fries-like strips)
- • ¾ lb pork liver (cut into fries-like strips)
- • 1 cup frozen peas
- • 1 red bell pepper cut in thin strips similar in width to the meat and liver
- • ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- • 1 tsp minced garlic
- • ⅓ + ⅙ cup white vinegar (the best kind to use is sugar cane vinegar)
- • ⅓ cup soy sauce
- • a pinch of salt + 1 tsp.
- • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- • 2 whole bay leaves
- ) In medium heat, cook diced pork skin with fat. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt until crunchy bits are left. Transfer them into a small container. Throw away the oil but leave about 1 tablespoon in the pan.
- ) Sauté onions in the fat oil until translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
- ) Add liver strips and pork meat. Sauté with the onion for a minute, then pour ⅓ cup of vinegar into the mixture. Cover and cook in med-high heat for 5 minutes.
- ) Stir in soy sauce, cover for another 2 minutes.
- ) Add in the crunchy pork fat with skin from #1, 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and ⅙ cup vinegar. Stir. Cover and leave to cook for 7 minutes.
- ) Lower heat to medium. Add frozen peas and red bell pepper strips. Wait for it to boil then cover for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- ) Drop 2 bay leaves into the stew and mix it in. Don't crush. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
- ) Serve with rice.