I miss Ma, my mother. She’d been hospitalized two times for three operations on her lungs. She’s been fighting the big C for almost 5 years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2013. Despite all her struggles fighting the big C and all its complications, she still remains as a strong-spirited and happy person. If I was only in Singapore, I’d go back to accompany her during her hospitalizations, even just one. Singapore is only 2,400 km or 3 and half hours away from the Philippines but now, I’m 8,400 km or 14 hours away from her – I’m now far far away!
Cooking is an art for me, an expression of my feelings and emotions. It’s a way of releasing whatever is in my heart and mind. When Ma was still strong, two of the dishes that she always cooked for us was Sinigang Bule Baluga and Potchero. Sinigang is an all-time comfort food while the latter is an all-time favorite in the Philippines. Filipinos also love to include fat in their cooking, that’s why pork belly is also a favorite. I badly miss Ma so much so I tried to incorporate these two dishes, Sinigang Bule Baluga and Potchero that she liked preparing for us.
What is Bule Baluga? Bule means beans while Baluga means Aeta, referring to the indigenous people from Zambales mountains. When I was young, the Aeta often descend down from the mountain to sell their harvest and Bule Baluga was one of those. They dried the beans before selling them. Bule Baluga is Patani beans in Filipino, and in western cooking they call it Lima beans or Butter Beans (thanks Google for this information).
So, here is my Pork Hock, Potato and Butter Beans Stew
Pork Hock, Potato and Butter Bean Stew
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or olive oil)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 potatoes, washed, chunked
1 red bellpepper, cubed
1 can (390g) butter beans
1 can (410g) chopped tomatoes
1 can tomato puree
2 cups chicken stock or water
2 pork hock
2 tablespoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped, save some for garnishing
salt and pepper
1. Heat a large soup pot in medium-high heat. Pour in oil.
2. Ensure the oil is already hot. Add potatoes, turn them all evenly 2 or 3 times until nicely golden browned all over – this can take about 5-7 mins. Remove and set aside.
2. Saute onion once translucent before adding garlic. Cook the garlic until golden.
3. Add in pork. Cook each side for 5 minutes.
4. Stir in parsley, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and chicken stock or water. Cover. Adjust heat to medium and cook for 45 minutes.
6. Add in bellpepper and stir. Cover again and cook for another 30 minutes.
7. Add salt and pepper taste. Stir. Cover again and cook for another 15 minutes or until fork is tender.
Serve while hot. Great to serve with bread.