Why It Works
- Making the sauce separately lets you control the amount of sauce with each serving.
- Adding vinegar to the blood prevents the sauce from coagulating.
When I was a toddler, my lola (grandmother in Tagalog) took me to see a pig slaughtered at the local palengke, or market. We were going to make dinuguan—a classic Filipino stew of pork meat and innards simmered in blood and vinegar—and she deemed the experience necessary. It was intense; as a result, I didn’t have my first taste of dinuguan until I was 18, despite many attempts by my titas (aunts) to get me to eat what they’d jokingly call “chocolate meat,” which is how it’s sometimes described to Filipino children to entice them to eat it.
Dinuguan gets its name from the word “dugo,” which means blood. Traditionally, the dish is made with pork intestines, liver, kidneys, and lungs and served with puto, a steamed rice cake. Oftentimes, dinuguan and lechon, a whole pig roasted on a spit over a charcoal or wood fire, are served together at fiestas. While the pig is roasting, lechoneros (those in charge of cooking the lechon) will make use of the collected blood and innards and prepare dinuguan, ensuring that no part of the animal goes to waste.
Just as we have as many iterations of adobo, the same holds true for dinuguan. On the southernmost island of Mindanao, they cook sampayna, which incorporates bamboo shoots, purslane, and/or banana heart. Meanwhile, in the Bicol region in the north, the locals cook up tinutungang dinuguan, a version containing coconut milk, chiles, and bay leaves.
This recipe is my personal interpretation of dinuguan. I love the pork blood sauce, so I choose to prepare the meat and sauce separately, which allows you to add as much sauce as you want to your bowl. For the pork, I used boneless country-style pork ribs, a more widely available cut than the traditional innards, which, in addition to being difficult to source, can be time-consuming to prepare. As for the blood, not many butcher shops or markets carry it, but Filipino markets do; if it’s not fresh, you’ll at least be able to purchase it frozen (just thaw it before using).
I highly recommend eating dinuguan with white rice and puto, steamed rice cakes you’ll be able to find at any Filipino market. And if the thought of consuming pork blood bothers you, just tell yourself it’s “chocolate meat”; I guarantee you’ll savor every bite.