This Fillipino recipe is a fantastic one-pot meal. The vegetables in the recipe are layered in the pot, so don't be tempted to stir it – just shake the pan occassionally as it cooks to keep the shape of the vegetables.
- 1 bitter melon, halved lengthways, seeded and sliced
- 50 ml vegetable oil
- 3 cm piece ginger, cut into julienne
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 4–6 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 4 small slender eggplant, sliced into 3 cm pieces
- 10 okra
- 5 snake beans, cut into 5 cm pieces
- ¼ Japanese pumpkin (kabocha), peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
- 50–75 g bagoong (Filipino shrimp paste)
- 100 ml water
- steamed rice, to serve
- 500 g pork belly, sliced
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 30 g salt
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Standing time 30 minutes
To make the bagnet, place all ingredients except the oil in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, or until pork is tender.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Drain the pork, place in a small roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until pork has dried. If you like the pork extra crispy, you can now deep-fry it. Alternatively, chop into pieces and set aside.
Meanwhile, place the bitter melon in a bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and stand for 30 minutes to help draw out some of the bitterness. Rinse and set aside.
Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté the ginger, onion and garlic for 5–6 minutes, or until tender.
Working in layers, add the tomato, eggplant, okra, bitter melon, snake beans and pumpkin to the pan. Spoon over the bagoong, scatter with the chopped bagnet, then pour in the water. Cover and cook over low heat, shaking pan once or twice to ensure bagoong is distributed evenly, for 12–15 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through but retaining their shape and not mushy. Serve with steamed rice.