The Filipino Pork menudo is tomato-sauce based. As the meat and vegetables are sautéed the tomato’s tartness turn to a sweet flavored gravy. There is something in the dish for everyone. The uniformed cubes of pork, potatoes and carrots together with the crunchy garbanzos and sweet peas are appealing to all.
I cook my menudo with plenty of sauce to go around. Filipinos love sauce. The more sauce there is, the better to extend the dish. We love to pour sauce on a bed of boiled white rice, the steam floating out of it, a staple at every Filipino meal.
But there’s more to menudo. The Filipino menudo has a rich history all its own and it is quite interesting to know where this colorful entree originated from.
Three hundred years of Spain’s colonization influenced Philippine cuisine. Spanish dishes in the Philippines were influenced by Spain’s other colonies, primarily Mexico. From 1565 to 1815, the galleon trade between Manila and Acapulco enabled an exchange of goods and food between the two countries. What came from Mexico to the Philippines were tomatoes, potatoes, cassava, corn, peanuts, bell peppers, chilies and a variety of tropical fruits. The Philippines sent to Mexico mangoes, tamarind, rice and “tuba” (coconut wine). One result was that many common Filipino dishes came to our tables via Mexico.
Hundreds of years later, Filipino-American immigrants like me, bring with us the Filipino recipes we grew up with.
From Manila, my good friend and exceptional journalist Tracey Paska tells me the word “menudo” likely comes from menuts, the Catalan word for a Spanish dish of beef stomach and posole (hominy) in a spicy, chile-based broth.
Mexican menudo is a stew of tripe and white hominy. Filipino menudo, in contrast, has uniformly cubed pieces of pork, potatoes, calf’s liver, bell peppers, garbanzos or chick peas stewing in a thick, slightly sweet tomato sauce broth. In America, I omit the liver, an ingredient not always available in my nearby grocery.
Like other Filipinos, I cannot claim this recipe as uniquely mine. What I cook and what other Filipino-Americans cook in our kitchens is a menudo recipe that was passed around from the family, friends, chefs or just anyone who loves the ease and comfort this dish provides – for a fancy fiesta or a family meal. Whatever version one chooses to cook, menudo is the kind of dish that brings cultures together.
Filipino Pork Menudo
- 2 pounds cut into 1-inch cubes, fat trimmed pork shoulder
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cloves peeled, minced garlic
- 1 medium-sized diced onion
- 1 cup organic chicken broth
- 1 can 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 2 medium-sized peeled, cubed into 1-inch pieces potatoes
- 1 large peeled, cubed into 1-inch pieces carrot
- 1 piece seeded, white membrane removed, cut into 1-inch cubes green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup canned, drain liquid chick peas or garbanzos
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper powder
- for serving boiled rice
- In a non-reactive medium-sized bowl, marinate the cubed pork with the soy sauce and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add garlic and onions and sauté until translucent.
- Drain and discard the marinade from the cubed pork. Add the pork pieces to the garlic and onions in the skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes,
- Add the broth and the tomato sauce. Stir to blend.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, green pepper and bread crumbs. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until meat and vegetables are soft and cooked through.
- Add the chick peas and green peas. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Season with salt and black pepper. Serve with boiled rice.
- Acknowledgement: Some references for the history of menudo and Spanish influence in Philippine cuisine were from "Memories of Philippine Kitchens" cookbook by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan.
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