Friday, November 19, 2004

Chinese-Filipino Binagoongan (pork cooked in shrimp sauce)

My Lola called it "sunok," and she felt it very often during her stay in upstate New York.
It is the feeling of a tired palate, when applied to appetites, when one feels no gumption to test a new recipe for the same old tired ingredients, when one's tastebuds are hankering for new adventures. Lola also used to say "nakakasuya," suya meaning almost nauseating, sickening, when she referred to dishes rich in cream or spice.
So this dish came to be, an offshoot of a dish husband and I used to have in a favorite Chinese restaurant, sizzling platter of squid in shrimp sauce. I bought a bottle of "fine shrimp sauce" and found a recipe for pork which I've since revised and tweaked through the years. Guaranteed to spark a dull lull in your tastebuds, when you need a tasty hit of something sharp and strong. (This is not for the timid.)
First you need to find these cross-cut pork spareribs, which are sold in long thin pieces or chopped up. They are often served in tiny bowls at dimsum, steamed in black bean sauce. I like them with shrimp sauce.

Marinate in rice wine and black pepper, at least half an hour.

Add thinly sliced red or green hot peppers, 1 big knob of ginger, sliced, half a head of garlic, crushed. Grind black peppercorns and sprinkle sea salt over the meat. Add 1 stalk of green onions, julienned, green and white parts. Mix in well, 1 (or more, according to taste) tbsp. of Chinese shrimp sauce (Lee Kum Kee or Koon Chun) and 1 tsp. of rice wine, and set over steamer. (Have on hand boiling water in a separate pot to add to the steamer as necessary). Steam until pork is tender and almost falling off the bone, about 1 hour and 15 minutes or more. Add boiling water as necessary.

(Light a scented candle now.) Serve over hot steamed rice. Guaranteed to drive "sunok" blues away.