I am Justine Michael (JM) De Guzman. A 26-year old Information System Developer and a very passionate home cook from the humble town of Limay, from the province of Bataan. I worked at a Government agency as a System Developer, had a break due to burnout, and that’s when I started focusing on my kitchen (which will soon be a little less, because I’m about to get back on my career track).
How did I get into cooking and food? Well I don’t exactly know when, but all I can remember was ever since I was a little boy, I used to lurk around with my mom, aunties, and Lola in the kitchen. While other kids of my age play outside, I on the other hand was busy buzzing around my mom’s kitchen staff. I used to ask a lot of questions about how our food was done. I would always insist on chopping and slicing the ingredients for our lunch. And I would be the first to ‘tikim’ (taste) my Lola’s dish. Yeah, since childhood, I was into food and cooking. I’m always present when and wherever there’s food.
Though I never really had the opportunity to pursue my passion in cooking until I graduated college, my parents wouldn’t allow me to enroll into culinary or any related program because it’s ‘mahal’ (expensive). We were financially unstable during those times. My mom had cancer, and thank God she’s a very lucky and blessed survivor up to this moment. Going back to the story, it was actually my dentist who became my stepping stone on getting into the real world of cooking. Long story short, she has a sister, who happened to be a celebrity chef who resides in Manila, who is also a lecturer at a premier culinary institution in the country. She endorsed me to her for a scholarship grant given by the said school. So I got in, studied, and trained for months. Voilà!
After my culinary training, an opportunity came, not in the cooking industry though, so I still haven’t really experienced cooking for a living. That’s when I started my career in my field of profession (information system). I worked at the office, but my passion, or should I say obsession for cooking never faded. I’ve been known by my colleagues as the guy who cooks and the guy who has baon (packed food) 🙂 Food became my motivation for work. I always wonder what to cook for dinner when I get home, and for my baon for tomorrow’s lunch.
I began exploring different cuisines, by researching through the web, books (I started collecting books about food), food channels, etc. Aside from food and cooking, my other fascinations include history (Asian history), linguistics, society, and culture. I started to appreciate our food, Filipino food – Southeast Asian food, and those are great factors that shaped up my style and way in cooking. I developed my standards, philosophy, and list of ‘musts’ in my cooking. I rarely cook foods these days that are Western in my point of view. I’m so patriotic. Ingredients should always be fresh and sourced by me. LOL. Ingredients that can be made from scratch must never be substituted with industrially manufactured ones (I hate sinigang mix!). You’ll never see stuff like tomato sauce, sinigang mix, and stew mix, etc. in my pantry.
If I remember it right, I started following Amcarmen’s Kitchen’s IG posts since last year. I really love her content and I frequently visited her blog as well. It was on the first day of May this year when I received a message from her asking about my interest in being part of her Auguest series.
The dish I’m sharing is of my own creation That said, this isn’t a traditional and commonly home cooked dish in most Filipino households. I’ll just call it Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. Before diving into the recipe, let me share some insights about this dish. As I’ve mentioned before, I have these so called “standards, philosophy, and musts” in my cooking. As much as I can, I don’t use industrially manufactured ingredients, so this dish uses fresh pineapple (but you guys can use the canned one, it’s just me. LOL.).
My philosophy in cooking:
You shouldn’t cook or eat food just to survive or satisfy your hunger. For me food must be respected, consumed, and celebrated every time, along with the stories it underlies with. That’s why it’s important for me to know the background and the story behind one dish. Like why this is cooked this way, why these ingredients are used, etc.
Fun fact, I have this odd habit, just before we eat at home, I first gather the attention of everyone. I weirdly and literally discuss the dish we have on the table, the name, and the ingredients, how I cooked it, what’s its origin (if it’s a traditional dish), my reasons and inspiration of coming up with the dish if I just made it out of creativity and imagination, the taste profile, etc. Just like you do it in a culinary school. Only after that will then they’re allowed to eat. LOL. It’s weird right?! But it’s true. No kidding aside.
Again, this is not a traditional Filipino food per se, but I still call it Filipino food. When we say Filipino cuisine, we’re basically dealing with food that’s been shaped by various factors. Culture, beliefs, traditions, religion, local and indigenous ingredients, influences locally, and internationally. Pinoy foods’ characteristics show strong Southeast Asian/Malay, Chinese, Spanish, and Indigenous influences. I always use them in reference whenever I’m developing a dish, just so that I could come up with a more meaningful one. Like, when I think of an ingredient(s) to be used for my dish, I always make sure, it has to be significant to one’s culture or tradition. I wouldn’t use jalapeño or habanero pepper for my Bicol express, simply because it’s not native nor a traditional Filipino ingredient. You get my point, right? LOL 🙂 I always make sure that each ingredient used is there for a reason; it’s not just there because I want it to be there.
So, Pineapple and Coconut Braised Pork Ribs. As the name implies it’s pork braised in a sauce base with pineapple and coconut cream. Why pork ribs? Well, we Filipinos love our pork. Right? Who doesn’t love pork ribs! Pineapple is my hero ingredient. This is a very common ingredient used in Filipino cooking, and I’ve seen lots of traditional dishes that use it as the base or just a “sahog” (topping). My mom would add juice from a pineapple in her caldereta and hamonado dishes, and fresh chunks in her curry. Then we have coconut. What represents Southeast Asian/Pinoy food more than coconut? I’m a huge fan of gata, and I often cook dishes with gata as its base. It is a shared ingredient among ASEANs. The aromatics I used were shallots, garlic, and ginger – the Filipino mirepoix 2.0 as I call it, as 1.0 being the forever trinity of tomatoes, shallots, and garlic. I added spices into it, which is not a very common practice among Filipino cooking, aside from our ultimate spice known as “black pepper” to give it the curry-like flavour profile – black peppercorn, chillies, coriander, star anise, bay leaves, and cinnamon. For the seasoning, I used a balance of both fish sauce and soy sauce. In addition, since this is a sweet-tangy-savoury dish, I added “panutsa” or unrefined block sugar (but seriously brown sugar’s fine).
PREP TIME 30 MINS | COOKING TIME 45-60 MINS | SERVES 5-6
- 1 & 1/2 kg pork spare ribs, cut into individual ribs
- 1 whole large fresh pineapple, divided
- 200ml (approx. 3/4 cup) juice from half of the pineapple
- 4 & 1/2 cups coconut cream
- 6 red bird’s eye chili, finely minced
- 6 shallots, finely minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick (or alternatively, 1 tbsp cinnamon powder)
- 1/2 bulb garlic, finely minced
- 6 tbsp panutsa or brown sugar
- 4 tbsp ginger, finely minced
- 1 & 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
- Fish sauce, to season
- Salt & pepper, to taste
- Soy sauce, to season
- In a large wok (kawa) over high heat, sear the ribs until browned and develops a crust on all sides. Set aside.
- Turn the heat down to low and add a portion of the coconut cream (about 1/4 cup) into the wok. Simmer until the coconut oil separates from its curd.
- In the now separated coconut oil, sauté the finely minced aromatics (shallots, garlic, and ginger) altogether. Sauté until aromatics are translucent.
- Turn the heat up to high. Return the seared pork ribs back to the wok and then pour in the pineapple juice, remaining coconut cream, all the spices, soy sauce, and fish sauce.
- Cover, bring to a medium boil, and then immediately turn the heat down to low.
- Meanwhile, in a medium heated pan, sear the cubed pineapples until browned and caramelized.
- For the last 15 minutes of simmering, add in the seared pineapple. Simmer the dish uncovered, just until the pineapple has absorbed the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with steamed white rice. A little bowl of patis (fish sauce) with crushed chilies is a good accompaniment to this. Enjoy!
You can technically call this dish “ginataan”, and you might also find resemblance with hamonado because of its “fruitful” ingredient – pineapple and a hint of “curry-ness” from the added dry spices.
I hope you’ll like this recipe.
Photo Courtesy & Recipe Copyright © 2019 | JM de Guzman
– JM de Guzman