Dinuguan, affectionately (and surreptitiously..) referred to as “chocolate meat” in its homeland, is a unique pork stew found commonly throughout the Philippines. It’s quite traditional, popular fare amongst locals; many variations exist across the archipelago, yet the dish can be difficult to find outside of the country. Even restaurants catering to large Filipino communities tend to avoid it, likely due to cultural stigma surrounding the main ingredient. Fortunately, this delicious, bloody concoction lends itself well to recreation at home.
Rich, savory, smooth, and with a kick, dinuguan is both comforting and surprisingly easy to prepare. It makes for quite an interesting, impressive meal that can easily be catered to specific tastes. Pork shoulder and offal are often used, both together and in separate versions – they give hearty substance to a remarkable, yet simple gravy made with pig’s blood spiked with the tang and spice of vinegar and chilies. Despite the tongue-in-cheek misnomer, no chocolate was harmed (involved) in the process, yet that might be an interesting addition to the mix.. (think dark chocolate in mole, though that’s a different beast altogether.. 😆)
Like other gastronauts who’ve attempted to learn about this dish, I had quite a bit of difficulty trying to trace its culinary journey. History and accounts of the origins of dinuguan are quite vague, unfortunately. Was it introduced with pork by occupying Spaniards (fritada)? Or is it a much older dish that was simply adapted to new situations and ingredients? One thing is certain, however, dinuguan is a beautiful effort borne out of the necessity that no part of an animal go to waste. Despite being simple, it’s nose-to-tail cooking at its finest – a good jumping off point for those interested in introducing blood into their culinary adventures.
Here it is ! What are you waiting for ? 🤤
Ingredients (for 4) **
- 2 ¼ lbs (1 kg) pork shoulder, cubed **
- 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) pork blood, thawed & blended (if necessary)
- Chicken stock (for adjusting thickness)
- 2+ hot chilies (depending on your taste), minced, chopped, or sliced **
- 1 onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups water
- ¾ cup (180 ml) white vinegar (or black rice vinegar)
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- In a bowl, combine the pig’s blood and about 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Mix well and set aside.
- In a pot over a medium flame, heat the oil. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook until softened.
- Add pork and cook until lightly browned.
- Add fish sauce and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add vinegar and bring to a boil. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes or until slightly reduced.
- Add water and stock and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat, cover and continue to cook for about 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is tender.
- Add pork blood and stir constantly to prevent any lumps.
- Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Add chili peppers and some of the black rice vinegar if using.
- Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened. **
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with rice or puto, a Filipino steamed rice cake.
Notes and Tips:
** For this version, I used pork shoulder, however, offal is often traditionally used to prepare dinuguan. I’ve had great results incorporating kidneys, liver, and heart.. They lend additional layers of texture, depths of flavour, and nutrition to the dish. Highly recommended!
** You can also allow the blood cook longer for a thicker sauce, or add more water and/or chicken stock for a “soupier” result. Both work beautifully.
** The finer you cut your chilies, the hotter your dish will be, especially over time.
** Conversions are rounded to the nearest 10th.