When I migrated to the U.S. in the early 90’s, staying connected with relatives in the Philippines meant spending a small fortune as international calls were about $3 to $4 per minute. Thank God for the advent of phone cards as my mother now is just a call away. Phone cards make it possible for me to be on the phone with her for hours, chatting over the simplest, most mundane things. As I’ve mentioned a number of times here, growing up, my mother’s cooking our meals was mostly a weekend affair. She is an immaculate homemaker with every corner of her house spotless, a nurturing woman who had our Sustagen drink ready every night and a wise businesswoman with a sharp financial acumen. Cooking is simply not her thing, or at least not her everyday thing because when she cooks, boy, does she cook!
Bagis is very common in Kapampangan cuisine and was one my mother cooked for me regularly during her month-long, once-a-year stays in California. I’ve tried preparing this spicy, citrusy minced beef dish on many occasions but I can never quite make it as good as hers. So today, in between talks about this and that over the phone, she taught me how to cook bagis. This recipe is her version.
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 cup water
- 4 to 6 Thai chili peppers, minced
- ½ cup calamansi juice
- salt to taste
- In a pan over medium heat, heat oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until limp. Add ground beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.
- Add fish sauce and allow to cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil. Add chili peppers, stirring to combine. Lower heat, cover and simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes or until beef is tender and liquid is almost absorbed. Add calamansi juice and continue to simmer for about 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste.