Although a good number of food indigenous to the Philippines are now accessible to us Filipino-American consumers, there are still items that are rarely available. For example, in the twenty plus years I’ve lived in California, I’ve never seen fresh rambutans being sold in the markets I frequent until last weekend. I haven’t had these spiny fruits in decades so when I saw them at Seafood City, I couldn’t help but succumb to a 2-pound bag despite its steep price. Ahh! What a treat! Guavas, on the other hand, are available year round but are sold in packs frozen. Who’d want that? It just isn’t the same. Imagine my delight when I found fresh guavas on sale when I did my grocery shopping yesterday. I knew immediately what I wanted to cook them in. Pork bulanglang, yey!
In most areas of the country, bulanglang means a type of boiled vegetable dish flavored with fermented fish. However, for us Kapampangans, bulanglang refers to a variant of sinigang that uses guavas as the souring agent. In contrast to the more popular tamarind-based sinigang, bulanglang is more delicate in taste with its subtle notes of sourness and slight hint of sweetness from the guavas. This delightful soup is especially comforting on cold, rainy days but equally refreshing during hot, summer months. Enjoy!
- 1 bunch kangkong
- 2 pounds pork belly, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 7 cups water
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 pound ( about 10 to 12 pieces) fresh guava, soft to touch
- 6 to 8 pieces gabi (taro), peeled and halved
- salt to taste
- Trim about 2 inches from the kangkongs stalks and discard. Cut kangkong into 3-inch lengths, separating the sturdier stalks from the leaves. Wash thoroughly and drain well. Set aside.
- Peel guavas, cut into halves and discard seeds.
- In a pot over medium heat, combine pork and water. Bring to a boil, skimming scum that floats on top. When the broth has cleared, add fish sauce. Lower heat, cover and continue to cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until pork is tender. Add more water in ½ cup increments as needed to maintain about 6 cups.
- Add guavas and cook for about 5 minutes, mashing with back of spoon to extract juice. Add gabi and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender. Season with salt to taste. Add kangkong leaves beginning with the sturdier stalks and then the leaves. Continue to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes. Serve hot.