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Made in the spirit of many Filipino stews, this dish reminds me of the stews that my grandmother used to make. It is loaded with hardy veggies and flavorful pork – perfect for an autumn meal!
When I first expressed interest in writing for Taste of the Place, Julie and I corresponded about my “region of expertise.” I (half) joked that I didn’t really have a region on which I focused. My recipes range the globe and run the gamut from sweets to savories. Julie agreed that I could present recipes from different regions as long as I provided a context for my choices.
I’ll start with this: both of my parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when they were children. But both families embraced becoming Americans and, as a result, a lot of their Filipino identity was pushed aside. For instance, neither of my parents speak Ilocano (their dialect) much less Tagalog (the national language). So, when people have asked, “What are you?” I am specific in my answer – my parents are from the Philippines. Or I push to clarify if they are wondering about my ethnic background or my nationality. Those are different, I remind them.
To add to this, my husband is Caucasian and our kids are, obviously, a mix. Interestingly enough, both of our boys will readily identify themselves as Filipino if asked. Maybe it’s all the time they spend with my parents. My little one often says, “You’re a bad Filipino, Mom.” I am. I admit it.
So, this year, when that same child was assigned the Philippines as his country for the entire year in AP Human Geography, I agreed to be a better Filipino and help him explore the cuisine of the country – beyond pancit and lumpia. So, our first step was to take a field trip to the local Filipino grocery store. We wandered around the produce area, picking up various ingredients and decided to make a pork stew with mixed veggies.
Notes on the Filipino Pork Stew with Mixed Veggies recipe
- Bear in mind this might not be a wholly traditional recipe, but – I think – it’s made in the spirit of many Filipino stews and it reminds me of stews that my grandmother used to make.
- If you don’t have a local Filipino market, I have provided suggestions for more readily available vegetables. But, if you can get to a market with Asian vegetables, go crazy and get creative!
- Here is a description of the veggies for your reference:
- Kabocha is a winter squash with a sweet taste and velvety texture reminiscent of sweet potatoes.
- Purple yardlong beans are crisp, tender pods with a flavor reminiscent of string beans. They are eaten both fresh and cooked and are often cut into short sections.
- Chayote squash is small to medium in size and has a pear-like shape with deep linear indentations, or puckers, that run vertically along the fruit’s skin. It is crunchy and mild with a slightly sweet taste.
- Water spinach is a semi-aquatic vine grown for its leaves. It has thin, hollow stems with long, flat, arrowhead-shaped leaves, and a flavor and texture similar to common spinach, but with mild, nutty undertones.
- I used bone-in pork chops because that’s what I had. You can easily use pork spare ribs or even cubes of pork for this recipe.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 4 bone-in pork chops, approximately 1-inch thick (2 to 3 pounds)
- Water as needed
- 1 onion, peeled and thickly sliced
- ½ kabocha squash, cubed, approximately 2 cups (substitute butternut squash, if needed)
- 4 cups purple yardlong beans, cut to 2-inch lengths (substitute green beans, if needed)
- 2 chayote squash, peeled and cubed, approximately 2 cups (substitute 1 cup zucchini and 1 cup potatoes, if needed)
- 4 cups water spinach (substitute baby spinach, if needed)
- Soy sauce, to taste
- Cooked rice, for serving
- In a large lidded pot (I like to use a Dutch oven), melt the butter and cooking oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic, then add the pork to the pot and brown quickly on each side. This usually takes about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Pour in enough water to cover the meat by about 2 inches. Stir in the onion and bring the liquid to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Let the pork braise for at least 90 minutes, or until tender.
- When the pork is tender, you can remove the bone if you wish. I keep it for making stock later!
- Stir in the kabocha and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the beans and cook for 5 minutes more. Add in the chayote and simmer for 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the water spinach and remove from the heat. You want the water spinach just barely blanched.
Note: If you are substituting vegetables other than those listed in the recipe, you will want to add them to the stew in series based on how long they take to cook.
- Season to taste with soy sauce as needed. Serve immediately with rice.
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