My love for curries and stews run deep. It doesn’t matter what part of the world they come from. This giant bowl of comfy-cozy tomatoey porkey stew with a hint of umamai is something that comes very close to soul-hugging.
This menudo is a fatty cut of pork simmered for a long long time in a tomato based sauce, resulting in a rich stew. It’s heightened up a notch with a few aromatics and accompanied by tons of flavors coming from some usual veggies, and the not so usual presence of garbanzos and raisins. But everything works just perfect in this most delicious stew. Let me introduce my new found love… Menudo my friends, Pinoy style!
How many of you are on the lookout for a big pot of something that stews for a while, creating unbelievable flavors as it cooks? The aromas… the anticipation to dig in with loved ones around the table. Stews and curries are a perfect way to bond with family and share the good times. Menudo speaks of such times, happy times, so…
What is Menudo?
Menudo is a popular pork stew from the Philippines. This beloved stew regularly comes on their tables, be it a simple night at home or a quick visit to their carinderia (small road food stall selling cheap home style food). Or sometimes it is part of an extensive buffet at celebration times. Filipino fiestas are quite an event.
The Philippines has a series of fiestas in different towns, where people celebrate with their friends and family, and sometimes even people they just met, enjoying and sharing colorful arrays of food. It’s like their version of Thanksgiving, sharing one’s blessings and happiness with others. And guess what dish is invariably there?
Menudo! With its bold flavors and lots of colorful veggies accompanying the meat, it’s perfect to feed large crowds with economical veggies like potato and carrot. Of course, on special occasions they make it a little fancy with the addition of sausages, hot dogs, raisins and some other fare. There are so many different versions depending upon the region and personal preference.
One nearly universal menudo ingredient is liver or liver paste. It imparts a certain flavor to the stew. In my version, I am giving this organ meat a miss, which I know will get me a big “NO NO” from the locals. But I am really not into organ meat, and the rest of the flavors are too inviting to me. So, yes, my menudo is without liver or liver paste. Sometimes we add sausages and sometimes don’t. You should try it both ways, it’s great!
Now coming to the word… Menudo. Does it sound Spanish to you, like their other stews such as caldereta and asado? With 300 years of Spanish colonization, it is hard for Spanish food not to be assimilated by the Filipinos. These tomato based stews are one of Spain’s greatest legacies to the Philippines. The sautéing of onions, garlic and tomatoes in oil is similar to the preparation of sofrito in Spanish culture.
All you need is some basic ingredients
- Pork – You will want a fattier cut. Trim most of the outer fat, but leave a little bit. Pork shoulder and pork butt are the best contenders. They take a while to cook, but turn up melt in your mouth tender.
- Fresh tomato and tomato sauce
- Sauce – Soy sauce & Fish sauce (optional but very good in this stew)
- Veggies – Today I am using carrots, potatoes, peas, red and green bell peppers.
- Garbanzo Beans
- Brown sugar
- Fresh lime or lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- Bay Leaves
How to make this Pinoy favorite
It’s pretty straight forward, like most stews. Dump everything in a pot and cook till the meat is tender. In this case, as there are different veggies that may be cooked fully at different times, I add them at certain stages so they don’t end up mushy in the end.
But before that you will add a bunch of flavors to the pork if you marinate it. First cut your pork into bite sized chunks and add to a large bowl with soy sauce and lime juice, along with a couple of bay leaves, salt and pepper. Pork can rest for a few hours in the fridge, or just while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Chop your onions, potatoes, carrots and bell peppers, and finely chop your garlic.
When it’s time to start cooking, heat some oil in a nice big pot, like your favorite dutch oven, over medium heat. Add chopped onion to hot oil and sauté till translucent. Add in the garlic and stir for a minute or two.
Now that you have the aromatic scent of garlic in the air, add in your marinated pork, combine nicely and cook till the pork is no longer pink. Add a dash of fish sauce and a cup of water and let it simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Add in chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce. Give it a good stir and add enough water to cover the pork, reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 30-40 minutes. You can check every 15 minutes to stir and make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
Once the pork starts to soften up and oil starts separating from the pork, you will start adding veggies towards the last 20 minutes. Add in potato and carrot cubes along with a little brown sugar. Cover and cook for 10-15 additional minutes.
In the last 10 minutes, add in bell peppers, raisins, garbanzo beans and peas. Yes, raisins and garbanzos seem like odd additions, but it works beautifully.
Mix everything and cook till the pork reaches your desired tenderness. Check the liquid occasionally, you can always add in half cup of water at a time if too much has boiled off. The end result of Menudo should be a thick rich gravy, rather than soupy and watery. While it’s cooking, you can check out my compilation of the best Asian Recipes for more inspiration.
Towards the end, adjust the level of soy sauce to your taste for a little umami. This menudo is a perfect example of Spanish and Asian cultures mingling together in pot.
Finally, bring this pot full of different colors and tantalizing flavors to the table with its best friend… a giant batch of your favorite rice. Notice the happy faces and smiles when your loved ones dig in. 🙂
Some Menudo Variations :
- If you happen to eat pork liver, add chopped pieces towards the last 30 minutes, as it takes less time to cook. Pork liver and paste not only impart flavor, but helps thicken up the sauce.
- Add in your favorite sausage or hot dog. Traditionally, it’s very common, and I must say I do like it every now and then. Chorizo sausage goes especially well in menudo. You just need to cut it into bite sized pieces and sauté in a little bit of oil for a few minutes to give it some color. Then add it to the stew for the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Some people use only fresh tomatoes and no canned sauce. In this case, use 3-4 fresh tomatoes. The end result is less tomatoey and more umami.
- I can see lot a of other veggies happily going in the pot, like green beans or mushrooms.
Storing and leftovers
Like any other stew, it gets better as it stays in the pot for few days. You can keep a giant batch for 3-4 days in your refrigerator for great leftover meals. Or freeze it in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
Menudo… to any Filipino it evokes memories of big fiestas, the excitement of those bustling carinderias, and other get togethers. It’s so true. With this new arrival of porky goodness in our life, we are already creating similar memories of happiness and family time… To the Good times, Menudo times! Try it… Pinoy style!!
Filipino Pork Menudo, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Try these other favorites from our Curries and Stews collection!
Indian Chicken Masala
Dominican Pollo Guisado
Mediterranean Braised Chicken
Trini Curry Chicken
Japanese Beef Curry
African Peanut Stew
- 2 lbs pork (preferably a fatter cut such as Boston butt)
- 2 cups onion, chopped
- 1 cup fresh tomato, chopped
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 large potato, skinned and cubed
- 1 cup carrot, cubed
- 1 medium green bell pepper
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- 1 cup green peas
- 1 cup garbanzo beans
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/2 fresh lime or lemon juice
- 4 Tbsp soy sauce, divided
- 1.5 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- Marinate the pork with lemon/lime juice, soy sauce, bay leaves, salt and pepper for at least 30 minutes to couple of hours.
- Chop potatoes, carrots and bell peppers into cubes. Chop the onions and garlic.
- Heat oil over medium high heat in a dutch oven or stew pot. Add onion and sauté onion till translucent. Add in chopped garlic and give it a stir for 2 minutes. Add marinated pork along with its juices and combine and cook for 10 minutes till pork is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
- Add in fish sauce and 1 cup of water. Cook for 10 minutes, covered. Stir in tomatoes and tomato sauce with enough water to cover the pork and cook covered for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in potato and carrot along with brown sugar. Again cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. If liquid is needed add half a cup of water.
- 15 minutes before the stew is completely cooked, add in the bell peppers, peas, garbanzos and raisins.
- Taste and adjust for soy sauce .
- Cook till pork is fork tender.
Most traditional menudos also include pork liver or liver paste.
You can try adding some sausages. Cut them into bite sized pieces and fry them in a little oil before adding into the stew. They can go in the pot 30 minutes before the stew is completely cooked
Try making it with just fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomato sauce. It turns up with a little different flavor.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 547Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 133mgSodium 1530mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 8gSugar 19gProtein 48g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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