Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bagnet with Bagoong Fried Rice

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My pork-loving heart was lucky enough to come by some authentic Ilocos Bagnet, brought back by a generous friend who had come back from a whirlwind trip to the region. Bagnet is a deep fried pork dish from the Ilocos Norte region of the Philippines. It is sometimes called Ilocano Chicharon…a sure sign that I’d love it (as I love chicharon). Unlike chicharon though, bagnet is made with one whole big hunk of pork belly. I’m no expert, and I’m sure there is more than one way to prepare it, but based on what I’ve been able to gather, the piece is boiled in its entirety for about an hour with certain herbs and spices, then dried in a hot oven, then deep-fried in low heat for another hour. After this you can either cut it up into smaller chunks, or leave it whole, then deep-fry again, this time at high heat, until golden brown and crisp. Whoa. Yeah.

Thank goodness they have commercialized bagnet to a certain extent so that girls like me don’t have to go through watching something deep-fry for an hour (never mind the boiling and the baking). You can now purchase a hunk of bagnet, from good and authentic purveyors, after it’s first long deep-fry. You can then keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or in the freezer for longer. Anytime you need a fix, you simply hack off part of it and do the last, quick and hot deep-fry until it becomes golden brown and super crispy. I like to think of it as “fresh” chicharon.

Now, with that hunk of pork goodness in my hands, what was I to do with it? I have had bagnet before, with loads of bagoong balayan (fermented fish paste). I already loved it back then, and would eat it until my lips were itching from the bagoong balayan (I have no allergies, but bagoong balayan packs such a strong wallop, that even non-allergic people sometimes get itchy lips).

I wanted to try something different now. I had just made a big batch of binagoongan baboy (a Filipino dish of pork stewed in shrimp paste) so I decided to set aside some of the sauce for the bagnet. I now had a thick tasty sauce of bagoong stewed for hours with a ton of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and the juices of the pork. After I saw this post though, I realized that the sauce would only make the bagnet soggy…and if there is one thing you want bagnet to be, it's crispy, not soggy. Hmmm…think Jo…aha...fried rice!

There are very few food challenges that can’t be solved by fried rice, and that’s what I decided to do here. By making bagoong fried rice, I could have my bagnet in all its pure crispy glory, while having my bagoong “on the side” in the rice. I used my leftover binagoongan sauce to make fried rice by first sautéing some garlic, then adding the sauce, and then the rice. This is an excellent way to use up extra binaggongan baboy sauce if ever you have any. I then prepared a side salad of chopped tomatoes, onions, burong mangga (fermented or brined unripe mangoes), and cilantro. Preparing the bagnet was just a matter of cutting it up and deep-frying until golden.

The cool, fresh, sour crunch of the salad, with the cilantro’s bite, was a perfect compliment for the fatty pork. And the bagoong rice was a great new way to have the baggong with the bagnet. What a meal! I was ready to pass out with the pleasure of it! I dunked the bagnet in my spicy vinegar mix, and really, when my teeth went through the crisp skin and glorious fat I nearly forgot my own name! I swear it!

Thanks MM for bringing this big piece of pleasure from the North back down for me! You can rest assured that its magic did not go wasted :)

22 comments:

M.Tan said...

I fully appreciate all the work that goes into making bagnet, wouldn't want to have to do it myself, but am a glad consumer of the effort. It does go so well with the tartness of the salad, and one of those things you have to have rice to eat it with.

Marketman said...

joey and mila, not to worry, I am actually going to attempt making the bagnet from scratch. I have a small deep fryer that has remained in it's box for two years and I suspect if its capacity is large enough...it will make great bagnet... Joey, this combination sounds fantastic. It's amazing how one can play with key flavors and jazz it up a bit and voila! brilliance...glad you enjoyed the bagnet!

The Knittymommy said...

MMMMMMMMMMMM..... I am slobbering all over my computer. I truly miss food like this.

This probably would have gone well to o with your amapalaya with scrambled eggs. Which I still need to try at home....

Marvin said...

Mmmm. I love chicharon. My mother sometimes puts chicharon in her Pinakbet, but she also is sure to leave a plate of just crunchy chicharron for my father to enjoy.

ChichaJo said...

Hi M! I have full respect for anyone who will make bagnet from scratch! And yes, the tartness is perfect with it :)

Hi Marketman! Thanks again for this awesome bit of pork goodness! :) I enjoyed it like it was nobody's business, hehe, C too! :) Hooray! Please keep us posted on future bagnet from scratch ventures!

Hi Knittymommy! Aah...Filipino food...we will forever be slaves to it! :) I missed it to when I was away...

Hi Marvin! Your mom is a wise woman! :) I would have taken a few bits for me too, heehee :)

Mae said...

Whoa!!! That Bagnet looks crispy, Joey. I had binagoongang baboy at my brother's house a couple of weeks ago. I love it! He made smaller pieces of belly pork. He gave me a tiny bowl of it as a side dish but asked him to bring me the whole jar to the table! I had it with boiled rice and completely ignored the rest of the meal. hahaha. x

oggi said...

I have made bagnet just one time. It is quite tedious to prepare, not to mention messy when deep frying, but well worth the effort. I agree with you (the crispy skin, delicious fat) it is absolutely glorious! :=)

veron said...

Joey! This is pure torture! Bagnet and binagoongan fried rice. I wonder if the bagnet is similar to deep fried pork belly confit? *drool*

katrina said...

What a fantastic version of binagoongang baboy you've made! I do think I'd like this more than the regular kind. I <3 crunchy food only slightly more than I <3 fried rice . YUMYUMYUM!

JMom said...

omg, tumulo ang laway ko :D I want some right now!! I saw MM's binagoongan post too and just died with envy. You guys are making me REALLY hungry!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mae! I love binagoongan baboy too! Also because it is one of the few Filipino dishes I can cook :) And yes, you need a lot of boiled rice when you eat it!

Hi Oggi! Bravo to you! I can imagine it being worth the wait...Mmmm! So good and fatty :)

Hi Veron! You know, I was thinking the same thing! As I was writing this post, and researching for bagnet info, I kept thinking: "Isn't this like confit?" Well there you have it...our very own pork belly confit care of the Ilocanos! :)

Hi Katrina! Thanks! If that's the case, then you will definitely like this because the bagnet stays super crisp, while you have your fried rice already flavored with bagoong on the side :)

Hi Jmom! Heehee :) Glad to see another pork lover :) You know what pinoy pork dishes are like...they mean business!

Ipshi said...

reading ur blog before lunch is very hazardous... i funnily enuf i dont eat pork.. so i simply substitute all pork references with chicken and im amazed by how drooly i get!!
another thing... ur photography is so amazing.. even if i dont read ur amazing description the foto is sure to get my mind thinking about glorious food!!

WindowShopper said...

my mother is from laoag and yes i have tasted my fair share of bagnet and i swear i can eat this forever. what we do is put the pork skin down over cooking oil (not hot oil yet, rm temp) and then turn up the heat so the pork and oil boil together. Kill fire when crispy.

The sauce we eat it with is a mixture of vinegar, garlic, tomatoes, toyo, and onions. Try it!

my bogsite is windoeshoppingspree.blogspot.com

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ipshi! Thanks for such a sweet comment! :) Substituting pork with chicken makes sense...both have white meat after all :)

Hi Windowshopper! Lucky you! Thanks for the bagnet tips...I'll be trying them out next time :) And will check your blog out too :)

aria said...

that sounds, and looks, fantastic! wow, i'd love to get my hands on some of that bagnet one day!!

Kelly-Jane said...

I've never heard of either of these, but it all looks great. I like the name of the rice especially!

Barbara said...

That looks delicious Joey.

MeltingWok said...

Oh my goddd, I just realized that bagnet is so similar to Chinese Roast Port..those crackling crispy skin..yummmmm !!:)

ginny said...

Thank goodness i just had crispy pata for dinner or i would be totally drooling and so bitin. Your bagnet looks delicious and chrunchy!! I too looove pork so much.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Aria! It really is! :) Hope you get to try it one day too :)

Hi Kelly-Jane! Glad you like it :) Bagoong/Shrimp paste can be a bit strong at times but once your hooked...watch out!

Thanks Barbara! :)

Hi Melting Wok! You're right :) Maybe that's why I enjoy Chinese food so much...especially when crispy skin, of pork or duck, is involved! ;)

Hi Ginny! Yay! Another pork lover :) Oh boy, crispy pata for dinner...MMM!

Gourmet Traveller said...

Hey joey, that bagnet really made me crave for Pinoy food. I LOVE bagnet and try and eat it at Via Mare when I'm home (which is seldom). Now, I know I can try and make it here. Thanks!

ChichaJo said...

Hi GT! Via Mare is really a taste of home huh? :) Nice to know you like bagnet too...but you always manage to stay so slim! Let me know if you do get to make it from scratch :)