For many years, green and red were the only bell peppers available in the Philippines. They are called siling pukinggan or just pukinggan [poo-king-GAHN] in Malolos, a term many “outsiders” find weird and, to others, even risqué. It is a term I associate with my father and his siblings whose regular food vocabulary included it. Funny thing is the term does not exist in the the vocabulary of my mother whose family lived only two blocks away.
Stuffed bell peppers is a classic American dish—it is essentially meatloaf stuffed into bell peppers and baked in the oven. I omitted the typical rice and used pizza sauce instead of tomato sauce. This is not a dish I cook on a regular basis but have always wanted to do whenever I’d see yellow and orange pukinggans at S&R, the American style supermarket. When my regular next-door supermarket, SM Hypermarket, carried the bell peppers in 4 colors last week, I decided to finally give it a go.
Rellenong Sili | Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 6 medium bell peppers any color
- 5 T olive oil divided
- 1 T minced garlic
- 1 large onion peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 large tomato coarsely chopped
- ½ k hand-minced beef
- ¼ k hand-minced pork
- 1 t dried oregano
- 2 T soy sauce
- 2 T banana ketchup
- 1 c pizza or spaghetti sauce
- ½ c shredded cheese Parmesan, Romano, Edam or a combination
- 1 c shredded mozzarella
- 1 beef or chicken bouillon cube
- ½ c hot water
- Pre-heat oven to 350° Cut top off each pepper, about ½ to 1 inch from stem end; set aside to use as pepper lids. Remove seeds and membranes from the inside until it is just a shell. Set aside.
- In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Saute garlic until fragrant, then the onion until soft and translucent, and the tomato until mushy, about 5 minutes total time. Add beef, pork, and oregano; cook until meats are browned, about 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the lumps. Add soy sauce, ketchup, and pizza sauce; stir to combine ingredients. Simmer covered for about 5 minutes to let flavors blend and develop. Add the shredded cheese; cook until cheese melts, about 1 minute.
- Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil inside the peppers. Arrange peppers cut-side up in a baking dish, then stuff peppers with filling. Top with mozzarella cheese then re-place the pepper lids. Dissolve bouillon in the hot water and pour into baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until peppers are tender but not wilted, about 35 to 45 minutes depending on how big your peppers are. If cheese isn’t melted, return peppers to the oven, pepper lids and foil removed, and bake until cheese melts, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.