Why It Works
- Making the sauce separately lets you control the amount of sauce with each serving.
- Adding vinegar to the blood prevents the sauce from coagulating.
When I was a toddler, my lola (grandmother in Tagalog) took me to see a pig slaughtered at the local palengke, or market. We were going to make dinuguan—a classic Filipino stew of pork meat and innards simmered in blood and vinegar—and she deemed the experience necessary. It was intense; as a result, I didn’t have my first taste of dinuguan until I was 18, despite many attempts by my titas (aunts) to get me to eat what they'd jokingly call “chocolate meat,” which is how it's sometimes described to Filipino children to entice them to eat it.
Dinuguan gets its name from the word "dugo," which means blood. Traditionally, the dish is made with pork intestines, liver, kidneys, and lungs and served with puto, a steamed rice cake. Oftentimes, dinuguan and lechon, a whole pig roasted on a spit over a charcoal or wood fire, are served together at fiestas. While the pig is roasting, lechoneros (those in charge of cooking the lechon) will make use of the collected blood and innards and prepare dinuguan, ensuring that no part of the animal goes to waste.
Just as we have as many iterations of adobo, the same holds true for dinuguan. On the southernmost island of Mindanao, they cook sampayna, which incorporates bamboo shoots, purslane, and/or banana heart. Meanwhile, in the Bicol region in the north, the locals cook up tinutungang dinuguan, a version containing coconut milk, chiles, and bay leaves.
This recipe is my personal interpretation of dinuguan. I love the pork blood sauce, so I choose to prepare the meat and sauce separately, which allows you to add as much sauce as you want to your bowl. For the pork, I used boneless country-style pork ribs, a more widely available cut than the traditional innards, which, in addition to being difficult to source, can be time-consuming to prepare. As for the blood, not many butcher shops or markets carry it, but Filipino markets do; if it’s not fresh, you’ll at least be able to purchase it frozen (just thaw it before using).
I highly recommend eating dinuguan with white rice and puto, steamed rice cakes you’ll be able to find at any Filipino market. And if the thought of consuming pork blood bothers you, just tell yourself it’s “chocolate meat”; I guarantee you’ll savor every bite.
- For the Pork:
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) canola oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 medium red onion (about 2 ounces; 60g), finely diced
- One 2-inch knob fresh ginger (25g), peeled and minced
- 1 1/4 pounds (565g) boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces (see note)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups (1.4L) vegetable stock or water
- For the Blood Sauce:
- 1/2 cup (120ml) spiced coconut vinegar, divided (see note)
- 1 pound (450g) fresh pork blood (see note)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) canola oil
- 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 medium red onion (about 2 ounces; 60g), finely diced
- 2 to 3 bird’s eye chiles, stemmed, to taste (see note)
- Fish sauce, to taste
- Cooked white rice, for serving
- 1 scallion, ends trimmed and sliced thinly on a bias, for garnish
- Homemade or store-bought fried garlic, for garnish
For the Pork: In a Dutch oven, heat oil over high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, onion, and ginger, and cook, stirring frequently, until light brown in color, about 2 minutes. Add pork and cook, stirring frequently, until pork is well browned on all sides and garlic, onion, and ginger are dark brown in color, about 5 minutes. Add fish sauce and black pepper.
Add vegetable stock or water, cover, bring to a boil, and cook for 30 minutes. Lower heat to maintain a simmer and continue to cook, covered, until pork is fork tender and almost falling apart, about 1 1/2 hours.
Strain pork mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof bowl; reserve strained braising liquid (you should have about 2 cups; 475ml). Transfer strained pork, garlic, onion, and ginger to a separate large bowl; set aside.
For the Blood Sauce: In a medium mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup (60ml) vinegar and pork blood; set aside.
In a 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over high heat until shimmering. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light brown in color, about 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup vinegar and bring to a boil.
Add blood and vinegar mixture and chiles and stir to combine. Lower heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reduces slightly and thickens in consistency, about 10 minutes. If sauce is too thick and viscous, stir in reserved braising liquid in 1/4 cup (60ml) increments to reach desired consistency.
Stir in fish sauce, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sufficiently seasoned. (If the sauce gets chunky or lumpy, use an immersion blender to smooth it out; if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer sauce to a blender).
Fill serving bowls with rice, top with blood sauce followed by pork, then garnish with scallions and fried garlic. Serve.
You can substitute boneless country-style pork ribs with skin-on, boneless pork shoulder. To substitute pork shoulder, cut into 3-inch cubes and follow the instructions above for pork ribs.
You can find spiced coconut vinegar in Asian specialty markets and online. If you can’t find coconut vinegar, cane vinegar is a great substitute, which can also be found in Asian markets and online. If all else fails, you can use apple cider vinegar.
We recommend using fresh pork blood. To substitute frozen blood, thaw blood in the refrigerator overnight. Take note that frozen blood often has vinegar added; if your frozen blood has vinegar in the ingredient list, omit the 1/2 cup vinegar called for in the recipe and add vinegar in 1/4 cup increments to taste.
Traditionally, finger chiles, which are called siling mahaba, are used in the Philippines, but it’s hard to find them in the US. This recipe calls for 2 to 3 bird’s eye chiles depending on how spicy you want it. You can also substitute with an equal amount of jalapeño peppers or anaheim chiles.
Make-ahead and Storage
The blood sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. You can reheat the blood sauce in the microwave or on the stovetop until warm.