Growing up in the Philippines, one of my favorite pork dishes to was dinuguan, or pork blood stew. It’s a traditional Filipino dish that mainly consists of pork meat, garlic, vinegar, chili peppers, and pig’s blood.
The last ingredient is one that a lot of people will have trouble wrapping their heads around. After all, it’s not your common everyday ingredient. However, it does see use in several different cuisines.
Blood sausages and black pudding from Europe and the Americas make use of blood as the primary ingredient, along with some kind of filler, like rice and oats. In Poland, they have a blood soup similar to dinuguan that they call czernina. Instead of using pig’s blood, it makes use of duck’s blood; hence, it also goes by the name of duck blood stew.
In Thailand, they make use of pork blood when creating authentic guay tiew ruea, better known as Thai boat noodles. The blood helps thicken the broth and enhances the flavor.
In Vietnam, they have a dish called tiet canh that makes good use of fresh, raw blood. They allow the blood to coagulate before topping it with different cooked meats. It’s typically served as a breakfast dish.
Other dishes that use blood as an ingredient areleuad paeng petfrom Laos,borbor cheam choruk from Cambodia, and saksang from Indonesia.
Despite the stigma surrounding blood dishes, I love eating dinuguan. Despite its scary name, which means “to be stewed in blood”, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It also goes by the name of chocolate meat, a euphemism to help tone down its scary name.
The dish has a rich, aromatic scent due to the use of vinegar, fish sauce, herbs, and spices. So you can’t smell the blood or the gameness of the meat at all. The thick soup resembles that of gravy, and while its dark color is initially off-putting at first glance, it has a savory and spicy taste to it with hints of earthy tones.
Traditionally, dinuguan makes use of the leftover parts of the pig. In the Philippines, no part of the animal goes to waste, and it shows in the cuisine. People often use the pork offal when creating this dish, namely, the heart, snout, ears, lungs, intestines, and kidneys.
For those who want to try dinuguan for the first time, you better stick with the versions that use either pork belly or pork shoulder. That way, you can judge for yourself that this blood dish is an amazing, savory dish that just has a dark color to it.
Several versions of dinuguan exist in the Philippines. Depending on the region, the way they prepare and serve it to you will be slightly different.
In Aklan province, they use a local fruit called batwan to help sour the broth. In Bulacan province, they serve a beef version of dinuguan they call serkele, which uses cow’s blood and meat instead.
Those living in the Bicol region add coconut milk and more chilies to their version of dinuguan. The locals call it tinutungang dinuguan, and it has a creamier texture to it while being richer and spicier in flavor.
There are many other regional varieties of the dish that exist, but what I’m going to teach you today is how to make a regular version of dinuguan that anyone can enjoy. Additionally, if you don’t eat pork, you can substitute both the blood and the meat with either beef or chicken.
Hopefully, you’ll enjoy eating dinuguan as much as I do. When I was a kid, it made me feel like a vampire while chowing down this dish. I hope that imagery helps you to conquer this dish mentally.
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Serving Size: 4 to 6 persons
- 2 pounds of chopped pork belly, pork shoulder, or pork butt
- 2 cups of pig’s blood
- 1 cup of vinegar
- 3 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 4 cloves of chopped garlic
- 1 piece of minced onion
- 1 piece of finely sliced ginger (optional)
- 4 pieces of chopped green chili peppers
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 2 pieces of bay leaves
- ½ tablespoon of salt
- ½ tablespoon of pepper
The first thing you need to do is mix half of the vinegar into the pork blood and set it aside for later. This is to prevent the blood from coagulating while you work on preparing the meat.
Next, put the chopped pieces of pork into a pot before pouring in three cups of water. Place it on a stove and let it simmer for at least half an hour, or until the meat is tender.
After around 25 minutes, preheat the cooking oil in a wok for a few minutes. Then turn off the heat in the pot and allow the pork meat to continue cooking inside.
Next, add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the wok. Sauté the ingredients just before they start turning brown.
Then add the pork to the wok and set aside the meat stock for later. Be careful when adding the pork to the wok.
Afterwards, continue to cook the pork with the rest of the ingredients until the fat starts rendering even more. Next, add the fish sauce to the wok along with the bay leaves. Then season everything with salt and pepper.
Next, add the rest of the vinegar and let it simmer for two minutes without stirring. Afterward, pour in the blood mixed with vinegar and start stirring to prevent any clumping. Do this for at least five minutes.
Using the meat stock from earlier, slowly pour it into the wok and add the chopped green chili peppers. Then put on a lid and let it simmer for a few more minutes until the stew starts to thicken.
Give it a taste and adjust the flavor with salt or pepper to your liking. If it tastes too salty, add a bit more water to help balance it out or use sugar. Once you’re satisfied with the result, turn off the heat and transfer the dish to the serving bowls. Enjoy the dish with either a bowl of steaming hot rice or puto, a traditional rice cake that pairs well with dinuguan.
If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container for up to three days inside your fridge. You can also store the leftovers inside your freezer, and they will last for at least a month.