What Makes a
by Alfonso Bermejo Villamora—Kaiba News and Features
The "dinuguan" is uniquely Filipino. This concoction of pig's innards
and pig's blood and spices probably came about due to the "fiesta"
culture: somebody had to make use of all that blood and gore from all
the pig slaughtered and mercilessly ran through with a bamboo pole
and rotated countless times over the embers to make the lechon.
My theory is that some Spanish friar dictated that the river
should be exclusively for the weekend laundry and that all slaughter
waste should be used. "Que horror!" the balding, fattened friar must
have uttered these when the "Indios" came up with the "dinuguan."
Somebody out there probably knows the evolution of the "dinuguan;"
somebody always does.
Many prefer the "dinuguan" cooked hot and spicy. The dinuguan
served at Naga Restaurant on Gen. Luna Street in Naga City is usually
slightly hot, but very spicy and "maalsom" (sour). "The secret is in
the vinegar" the lady cashier would whisper while counting the
change. The "dinuguan" served there contains less innards and more of
pork meat: pork-fat floats on the "dinuguan" like some oil spilled
from the Exxon Valdez. Perhaps in the pork fat then?
In Calabanga, Camarines Sur, Tiang Nena, who runs Centro's
Carinderia, a roadside hole-in-the-wall affair along the Calabanga-
Tinambac roadway, cooks her "dinuguan" in the Tinambac fashion: hot,
spicy, and deliciously sour (limonsito). She also cooks the tastiest
adobo, but Centro's "dinuguan" is a treat. Real pig innards, and the
color of the mush is deep brown -- just the right amount of fresh
pork blood blended in with the simmering ingredients. "The secret is
in the spices," Tiong Tony (the husband) would comment, while rinsing
a fresh batch of clams. After the clams were put into a boiling pot
of water, Tiong Tony worked on the next batch of pig's innards. He
took out his big butcher's knife and started cutting up the innards
with quick, repeated chops from the knife. His old wooden cutting
board was showing the preferred chopping area and small pieces of the
chopping board flew about.
Although my theory is that the real secret of a good "dinuguan"
is with the limonsito sourness, no one knows really. Perhaps in the
chopping board then?