I know, I know, this doesn’t look like a salad and you’re probably yelling “I WANT RICE!” Just allow me to make use of crackling pork in a salad this one time 🙂 Will make you feel less guilty, promise!
Bagnet (crackling pork) is a famous dish from the Ilocos province which is served with bagoong. I used bagnet as the main ingredient for my salad for this month’s Foodbuzz 24×24. As I said in my Meal.Teal.It’s A Deal! post, I mixed crackling pork with mustard leaves and tomatoes and served it with a special bagoong Balayan, a special fermented fish paste that borders on the flavors of anchovy sauce.
Mixing the salad was easy, but it’s making the crackling pork that’s a little tricky.
Here are the ingredients:
For the crackling pork
- ¾ kilo pork belly
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 laurel leaves
Rub the bellies with salt. Drop them in boiling water then add in a pinch of ground pepper, garlic, and laurel leaves. Turn heat to low and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until pork is tender. After boiling, transfer the pork to a bowl of ice water and let cool. When the bellies have cooled down, pat them dry with a paper towel then chop into bite-size pieces. Bring them out to air-dry for at least 4 hours. You can deep-fry them right after or freeze them in the refrigerator and cook at a later time. When you’re ready to cook, do not thaw the bellies. Deep-fry them while frozen.
For the salad
- bagoong Balayan
- 1 pc small onion (optional)
- juice of 4 calamansi
- mustard leaves
Cook the bagoong over low fire and allow the fishy odor to evaporate a bit, about 5-7 minutes. WARNING: The aroma will linger in your kitchen and probably inside your house for hours. I would suggest that you do the cooking outdoors. In my case though, I love the smell of it so I do it indoors 😛 When done, mix with calamansi juice. The citrus will neutralize the salty flavor.
You can buy bagoong in Filipino stores in the United States. I definitely saw it in Seafood City while I was in California.
As for the veggies, blanch the mustard leaves and arrange them on the plate. Chop the onions (optional) and tomatoes and arrange them on the plate along with the crackling pork. Drizzle with the bagoong dressing.
If you like anchovies, you will enjoy this dish. You’ll be surprised at how brilliant the combination of flavors and texture is in this salad. You’ll experience the crunch of the crackling pork, the softness of the blanched mustard leaves, and the freshness and sweetness of the tomatoes all blending well with the citrus flavor of calamansi and the unique taste of the bagoong. 🙂