When I was a kid, my parents used to have a difficult time trying to make me eat vegetables. I didn’t inherit my mom’s natural love for veggies—as an Ilokana, she was used to having a healthful bowl of vegetable-rich Diningding every day when she was young. My mom can eat any kind of veggie, but me, I’m quite picky.
It took my mom a while to make me like vegetables, though up until now, I still can’t tolerate okra. Aside from the sinigang that most kids like, my mom also introduced me to love another dish: pork and labanos (white raddish) guisado.
I don’t know how my mom or my grandma came up with this (or maybe it’s a known dish, I’m not really sure), but this recipe is the first thing that I asked my mom to teach me as soon as I was old enough to be left alone in the kitchen.
Yep, it’s my favorite. I could eat this dish with or without rice. The delicious Filipino flavor of pork guisado (pork sauteed in garlic, onion and tomatoes) perfectly complements the very subtle bitter taste of radishes. A siling pangsigang (green chili pepper) is added to the dish to give it a slightly spicy kick, but I usually add more spice than usual, for the simple reason that my husband and I like our food spicy. My mom says any part of pork meat will do (my mom used spareribs), but I prefer using pork belly since its meat is soft and easier to eat.
Anyway, you can try it for yourself. Here’s the recipe!
For servings good for 3 to 4 people, you’ll need:
- 1/2 kilo of pork belly, cut into cubes
- 2 big (and long!) labanos (white radishes), sliced thinly
- 4 small tomatoes, quarted
- 1 small onion, minced
- 4 cloves of medium-sized garlic, crushed
- 1 pork broth cube
- 1 siling pangsigang (add 1 more if you like it spicy), halved
- 2-3 cups of water (depends on how soupy you want the dish to be)
- patis (fish sauce)
- sprinkle of black pepper
In a casserole, cook the onions, garlic, and tomato. When nearly done (or when the tomatoes start curling up), add the pork broth cube. Once the broth cube is dissolved, put in the pork belly. When the meat starts to turn opaque, add the water, radishes and green chili pepper. Use patis and sprinkle black pepper to add flavor, but be sure not to put too much patis or it’ll be too salty. Lower heat and partially cover the casserole. Your Pork and Labanos Guisado is done once the radishes turn transparent.
This dish is best paired with rice, though if it’s not too salty it’s yummy enough to eat without it—a healthy “snack” while watching TV