To honor the memory of the late Philippine President Elpidio Quirino, I cooked Pork Higado, an Ilocano dish, which was a favorite of the Quirino brothers. He was from humble beginnings. Elpidio Quirino was born in the provincial jail in Vigan, Ilocos Sur on November 16, 1890, the third son of Mariano Quirino, a jail warden and wife, Gregoria Rivera. They were a family of modest means, but the Quirinos were gifted with great intelligence and knew the value of hard work. Ilocos Sur is a province, over 200 kilometers north of Manila, the country’s capital.
As a young man, Elpidio studied hard. His generation experienced the first shift from the Spanish model to the American school systems in the Philippines. At the early age of 16, Elpidio worked as a barrio school teacher in Capariaan, a native village within Caoayan where the family lived.
Vice President Elpidio Quirino ascended the presidency when then President Manuel Roxas had a heart attack. Elpidio Quirino became the 6th President of the Philippines and served the country from 1948 to 1953.
This year, our Quirino family celebrated Lolo (Grandfather) Elpidio’s 125th birth anniversary by going back to his roots, Vigan, Ilocos Sur. It was the culmination of a yearlong celebration to commemorate the life of a great world leader. This year long series of events were meant to “focus on the principles of tolerance, goodwill and love” — three values which President Quirino staunchly adhered the day he became president.
I rekindled my knowledge of Ilocano food and the many favorite dishes of the Quirino brothers: Ernesto, Elpidio, Eliseo, Antonio and Rosa, their sister. I was given a pretty good explanation of Vigan specialties by our aunt Attorney Aleli Guzman Quirino or Tita Lila as we fondly call her. One of these favorite dishes was Higado, which I tried my hand at here in my American kitchen. Our aunt describes higado best and calls it by its original Ilocano name: DINALDALEM is higado to non-ilokanos. Different parts of the pig – pork loin, pork lung, pork heart, pork tampalin, pork liver and lampay (innards) – are used.
To many like me, a modern version of higado is a tangy pork dish that is cooked with onions, chicken livers in a sauce of vinegar, a few drops of soy sauce and plenty of garlic. The dish is easier to cook than it looks. I added red bell pepper strips and green peas to the dish which added fragrant flavors and crisp textures to the entree. The generous amount of sauce, tender pork strips makes the higado ideal to pair with a bowl of steaming boiled white rice.
Come celebrate with our family. There are free Ayala museum events to watch, lectures to listen to in Makati City, Manila and our book to read. Celebrate with us even if you’re not Ilocano (from Ilocos), even if you’re not Asian or Filipino. The story behind Elpidio Quirino, a statesman and survivor and the sublime flavors of this dish transcends provincial boundaries, ethnicities and generations. This is the kind of marvelousness that belongs to the world.
I just launched this book “Statesman and Survivor Elpidio Quirino 6th President of the Philippines”. This book was created to honor the late president to commemorate his 125th birth anniversary. The book is a collection of 125 timeless and inspiration presidential quotes from President Quirino’s memoirs and speeches. I co-authored this book with my husband Elpidio Pineda Quirino and son Constante G. Quirino. Book design was by my eldest son, Tim Quirino. “Statesman and Survivor Elpidio Quirino” is now sold worldwide on www.Amazon.com (Amazon). Profits will go to the beneficiaries of The President Elpidio Quirino Foundation.
- Large sauce pan
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1 whole large onion chopped
- 2 pounds pork shoulder or tenderloin cut in 2-inch length pieces
- 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 cup organic chicken broth
- 1/2 pound chicken liver
- 6 Tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 pieces bay leaves
- 1 whole carrots peeled and sliced carrot
- 1 cup green peas frozen or canned, liquid drained
- 1 whole red or green bell pepper sliced into 2-inch length strips; and seeded
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- for serving:boiled rice
- Over medium high heat, add cooking oil to the large skillet.
- Once the oil is hot enough, saute the garlic and onions.
- Add the pork tenderloin slices. Sprinkle the soy sauce and braise the meat for around 3 minutes till it turns brown.
- Pour the broth or water over the tenderloin. Cover and simmer till the pork is tender for about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add the chicken liver and pour the vinegar. Add the bay leaves. Cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes more.
- Add the carrots, green peas and red bell pepper strips. Season with salt and black pepper. Continue cooking for 5 minutes more.
- Let the liquid reduce during this process till the sauce turns to a thick gravy nearly absorbed by the tenderloin.
- Serve piping hot with boiled rice.
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Buy the book on Amazon: “A Statesman and Survivor Elpidio Quirino 6th President of the Philippines” is a book of 125 presidential quotes, inspiring and memorable from President Quirino’s speeches and memoirs. Buy the book from my Amazon affiliate page. Click here. Proceeds will be donated to the charities of the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]