(Chicago) – This is one hell of a Filipino dish that makes me want to eat 5 cups of rice in one meal. “Binagoongan” is a shrimp paste dish with lots of meat and usually made super spicy.  Some people like it with lesser meat but more “bagoong” (shrimp paste).  But I like mine with just enough shrimp paste to coat every piece of meat.  For the meat, of course, pork belly is the best.  If it is cooked long enough, the fats in pork belly will caramelize- just succulent.

For the taste, just enough balance of saltiness from “bagoong“, sweetness from brown sugar, tanginess from the vinegar, spiciness from the chili and hints of bitterness from the “alamang” (the shrimp component of “bagoong”).  Umami-ness at its best!  More rice, please!


  • 3 lbs pork belly (liempo) , cut into big squares
  • ½ cup sweet bagoong guisado (shrimp paste)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 thumb-size ginger, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup rice vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 hot banana peppers, sliced into thin rings



Prepare the pork: Pre-heat oven  to 400F. Put the pork belly squares in a baking tray and roast for 35 minutes or until skin is browned. Cool for a bit and then slice into small cubes.  Alternatively, if you don’t have an oven, cut the pork into small cubes and brown the pork in large pan with oil on medium high heat. Set aside.

Saute ginger and onion until fragrant in a large pan on medium high heat. Add the garlic and tomatoes.  Cook for 2 minutes. Add pork, bagoong and vinegar. Bring to a quick boil; then lower the heat to medium.  Put water, bay leaves and brown sugar. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until pork is fork tender. Add a little more water if drying too quickly. Add the sliced peppers and cook for 5 more minutes uncovered.