Binagoongang baboy – pork braised in soy, vinegar, and garlic then sauteed in pungent bagoong [fermented shrimp paste / nam prik] – has long been one of my favourite dishes and also happens to be my idea of comfort food. There are a number of ways by which it is prepared and, likewise, a number of styles in which it is presented.
My favourite version of the dish is the one known as crispy binagoongan. Here, the braised pork is first deep-fried to crunchy, golden-brown perfection before being tossed into sauteed bagoong which has been cooked down to a saucy sludge with red onions, fresh garlic, and diced tomatoes. The resulting dish features a scrumptious variety of textures, flavours, and aromas: the pork is tender in spots yet the crackling skin shatters audibly when you take a bite; the pungent natural scent of the shrimp paste becomes milder, more savoury thanks to the addition of aromatics and the fruitiness of the tomatoes; the saltiness is tempered by the sweetness of the pork, the slight bitterness of the charred parts of the crackling, the sharpness of onion and garlic, and the acidity of the tomato.
That said, Mozu Cafe Bar’s spin on my favourite dish may just be in the running to become my favourite meal. Their crispy binagoongan set (P 190.00) features a generous portion of braised-then-fried pork dressed with a grainy spin on the traditional bagoong gravy, a sour green mango salsa, and a scoop of hot rice. Fried eggplant adds a pleasant smoky bitterness and the creamy texture of the eggplant pulp goes beautifully against the crunch of the fried pork and the crisp, unripe mango. If you want additional heat, this plate also comes with a green chile to chop up and mix into the bagoong which has an appealing hint of sweetness. (Oh, and the bagoong also doubles as a dressing that turns your salsa into a nice side salad!) Definitely a meal with which to spoil one’s self. 🙂
Mozu Cafe Bar: 31st St. cor. 2nd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig