I remember putting my arms around her soft shoulder and tightly squeezing as we weave our way around town. To wake up next to her in the morning was like a dream. To get a glimpse of her daily routine... praying bead after bead of her rosary... to see her stay true to her promise to my Papa even beyond "through death do us part". I'm glad that after living abroad for the past 13 years I was lucky enough to stay with her for 3 weeks - which was oh so precious...and 'twas truly a gift.
I am sure she loved those moments too.
The other day while I talked to her over the phone, she conveyed to me how much she misses me especially my cooking.
"Martha (her cook) is back to cooking adobo again" she said in between giggles.
Oh she tried but her Crispy Sinigang sa Bangkiling (Crispy Pork Belly Soured in Tahitian Gooseberry) didn't turn out to be like yours.
"Ok, let me post it so she'll recall my instructions". I told her
So for that purpose let me share with you one of my Mama's favorite dishes that I created for her while I was on vacation. But first let me discuss with you what gooseberry is all about.
So who's ready to pucker up? haha!
I brined it just the way I remember eating the fruit when I was younger. I filled up a bottle with water, added some salt and poured the gooseberry in. After a day it was still very sour, so hmmm Why not use it as o souring agent for a soup base? came an idea in my head...
And voila, that was how this dish called Crispy Sinigang sa Bangkiling (Crispy Pork Belly Soured in Tahitian Gooseberry) came about. The dish was sensational. I cooked it over and over for the time I was there. My family couldn't resist the crunchy, crispy pork belly punctuated with a sour soup. The vegetables also made this a one pot meal that delighted everyone.
3 lbs. pork belly strips
2 pcs. radish (thinly sliced)
2 pcs. eggplant (thinly sliced)
1 pack okra
3 medium tomatoes
2 pcs. onions (quartered)
2 cups extracted tahitian gooseberry ( you could use other souring agents such as tamarind)
fish sauce (optional)
Other vegetables that you could add on include: taro, bokchoy and chili to give this dish a kick.
First let's extract the gooseberry juice. In a stockpot, boil 2 cups of tahitian gooseberry submereged in water. Cook until the meat falls off from the seed. Now mash the gooseberry and extract as much juice from it. Use a strainer. Discard the seeds and pulp and set aside the juice.
Now in a pot, boil rice water (water used for washing rice) onions and tomatoes. Add the pork belly strips. Cook until tender. Add the vegetables and the extracted juice from the gooseberry. You may want to add a small amount first then see from there. Season with fish sauce or, if unavailable, with salt.
To make the pork belly crispy, you must set aside the pork belly, pat dry and deep fry the strips. For healthy options you could bake the pork (or use turbo broiler) until the pork becomes crunchy and crispy. Slice the strips into serving cuts. Serve the pork with vegies and soup on the side...