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Heirloom Recipe,  Ulam | Main Dishes

Binagoongan | Stewed Pork in Shrimp Paste Recipe

My husband’s grandparents called this dish “adobong may bagoong,” a description quite apt because that’s what it is—pork adobo cooked in bagoong. Others boil the pork first, then add the bagoong. Other versions of this dish use less bagoong; his mother used more. No matter how it is cooked, one thing is certain: binagoongan is best eaten a day or two after cooking, and always with lots of newly cooked rice to mop up the sauce.

When we were building Havenhill in Oct 1987-Apr 1988, my husband and I, with our toddler in tow, spent weekends at the construction site. Lunch was always picnic-style, on a folding picnic table laid out under the shade of a caballero (fire tree). Our ulam was either adobo or binagoongan because both dishes keep well without refrigeration. I packed our lunch in banana leaves or, when pressed for time, in a three-tier stainless-steel fiambrera (tiffin box). Rice went in the bottom-most tier; the ulam, in the middle, and the sidings (fresh tomato and salted egg for the adobo, sliced mango for the binagoongan), in the top.

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Binagoongan | Stewed Pork in Shrimp Paste

My husband's grandparents called this dish "adobong may bagoong," a description quite apt because that's what it is—pork adobo cooked in bagoong.
Servings 6


  • 1 kg pork liempo belly, sliced into 1½-inch chunks
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic crushed, divided
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 3 tomatoes chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked bagoong shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 siling haba finger chiles
  • 2 eggplants sliced and fried (optional)
  • 2 green mangoes peeled and sliced (optional) for serving


  • Combine pork, vinegar, half of the garlic, and the salt in a bowl. Marinate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Heat vegetable oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Stir-fry remaining half of the garlic for 30 to 45 seconds until golden and fragrant. Stir-fry onion for about 1 minute or until soft. Stir-fry tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes until mushy. Add shrimp paste; cover and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked through.
  • Stir in the pork with the marinade; cover and simmer for about 5 minutes until pork juices have seeped out and vinegar has boiled. Add water to cover; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer covered for 45 to 60 minutes until pork is fork tender. Add brown sugar and chiles; cook for 2 minutes.
  • Serve with rice and a side of fried eggplants or green mangoes.


* The two most important ingredients in this dish are ripe red tomatoes and good quality bagoong (shrimp paste). Stay away from bagoong that is artificially colored, the very pink ones. Whenever possible, do not use pre-cooked or sautéed bagoong. Try to get fresh, uncolored bagoong; it is less pungent than the bottled ones. Check the saltiness of the bagoong; if it is too salty, quickly rinse half in running water before adding to the un-rinsed half in the pan. The addition of brown sugar also serves to temper the saltiness of the bagoong.
* Binagoongang Lechon Kawali or Binagoongang Crispy Pata (The latter was a specialty at Cafe Valenzuela, Malolos's signature restaurant in the 1950's-60's, owned by the family of my childhood friend Allei Valenzuela-Menguito.) | Sauté bagoong in garlic, tomato, and onion; stir in chopped lechon kawali or crispy pata; serve hot.
* Ginataang Binagoongan | Use coconut milk instead of water to tenderize the pork.

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