There are days we long for comfort food but don’t have time to simmer stews for hours. So, I cooked a classic Filipino sauté of Okra with Bagoong (shrimp paste). I buy fresh okra at the Asian market. It is almost always available. Even large supermarkets with diverse vegetable offerings have okra now.
To prepare okra, I handle them gently. I cut off the stems, making sure not to puncture the pod. These okra pods in the recipe did not need slicing. Take note, the more you slice okra, the thicker the sauce becomes. The seeds have a thickening agent.
I remember okra as a backyard-grown vegetable from my childhood in the Philippines. I watched my father harvest okra he’d grown, by cutting the stem off the shrub, expertly with a sharp knife. My mom often cooked our okra in pinakbet or inabraw, both also with bagoong.
In my American kitchen today, I blanched and then sauteed the okra. It was fast and easy. The salty bagoong flavors coating the softened okra was superb. Sometimes, the simplicity of a dish is what makes it perfect.
We made it through another week. That’s a good thing. These are challenging times – what with the pandemic, a race to find the cure, an unprecedented economic recession, and volatile political times. But know this, the sun always shines the next day. We’ll be alright, folks. Meanwhile, serve a heaping bowl of these Okra with Bagoong on a mound of steamed white rice. It’s comfort food that’s easy and familiar.
Okra with Bagoong
- Large Skillet
- Medium-sized Stockpot
- ½ pounds okra, about 15 pods
- water, to blanch okra, reserve 1/2 cup for saute
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole medium-sized onion, chopped
- 1 whole medium-sized tomato, sliced
- ¼ pound pork belly or pork shoulder, cut into cubes, ½-inch
- ½ cup bagoong guisado (shrimp paste)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- steamed rice
To prepare fresh okra:
- Wash okra. Dry with paper towels. Carefully, trim stems with a knife. Leave the caps on. Do not puncture the pods. Set aside.
- In a stockpot of boiling water, drop the okra pods. Boil the okra for 5 minutes. Remove the okra from the boiling water.Reserve 1/2 cup of the water for the saute. Set aside.Place the blanched okra in a bowl filled with iced water. Set aside.
To saute the okra:
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add the oil.Saute the garlic, onions and tomatoes. Add the pork cubes. Stir and combine ingredients. Cook till pork is done for about 8 to10 minutes.Pour the reserved half cup of water. Add the bagoong (shrimp paste). Add the blanched okra to the skillet. Mix the ingredients gently, making sure not to bruise the okra. Season with black pepper. Cook for 2 minutes more for flavors to blend.Serve warm with rice.
- Bagoong guisado is sauteed Filipino shrimp paste that's very salty. Use the suggested amount in this recipe for the quantity of vegetables indicated. I don't add salt to the dish if I am using bagoong. You can buy baggong (shrimp paste) at Asian markets, Filipino groceries or online sources like Amazon. I like to prepare my own Bagoong Guisado or Begucan, as Kapampangans call it. My recipe for homemade bagoong guisado is in my cookbook My Mother's Philippine Recipes (Amazon.com). My recipe was also featured on Positively Filipino. Click here.Substitute: If you're out of bagoong, try sauteeing this recipe with one tablespoon of patis (fish sauce).
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
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