Deep frying pork belly is not for the timid, in my opinion. It calls for boldness. The pork pops and crackles violently in the seething pool of oil. Even if one compulsively pats the pork belly dry, the very hot oil still spatters in all directions. The menacing hot grease lands everywhere. On one’s fingers, on one’s arm, and on one’s once-spotless shirt.

The bold, distinct scent and taste of bagoong is not for the timid, too. Bagoong [bah-goh-ohng], for the uninitiated, is tiny shrimp, fish or other shellfish mashed with salt and then allowed to ferment until it becomes an intensely pungent but flavorful paste. The late food writer Doreen Fernandez wrote about bagoong from the island of Negros Occidental where shrimp that are too small to sell in the markets are mashed in the boats on the shore, with the boatmen mashing them with their bare feet and their paddles.

Bagoong alamang is the paste made from shrimp while bagoong isda is salted and fermented fish like anchovy and round scad. Bagoong Balayan is a version of bagoong isda that originated from Balayan, a town in the province of Batangas, south of Manila. It isn’t a thick paste like most bagoong but it is a smooth liquid without the faintest trace of the once-spiny fish bones that have all melted through fermentation. Whole fish grilled over hot coals accompanied with steamed sweet potato sprouts — talbos ng kamote — is impeccable with bagoong Balayan and a squeeze of calamansi juice.

Sour green mangoes are inconceivable without bagoong alamang and so is kare-kare, the stew of oxtail and vegetables flavored with toasted peanuts and thickened with pounded rice. When I eat alone at home and I pine for something simple, steamed rice fluffed with a fork and mixed with bagoong alamang sauteed in garlic, onions, and tomatoes is my go-to meal. But when I crave extravagance, crispy pork belly dressed lavishly in briny bagoong alamangbinagoongan — is the unequivocal choice. The burns on my fingers and arms, not to mention my soiled shirt, are all well worth it.


Binagoongan Recipe, makes 4 servings

1-1/2 lb pork belly, cut lengthwise into 2-inch thick slabs
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon salt
vegetable oil for deep frying and sauteeing
1 small onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cup bagoong alamang (salted, fermented shrimp paste)
a few Thai chilies (optional)

Place pork belly, 2 cloves of garlic, and salt in a pot and add water, enough to just cover the pork. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Continue to cook until the pork is fork-tender, about an hour.

Drain the pork. Measure 1/2 cup of pork stock and reserve the rest for future use. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and cut into 2-inch pieces.

Fill a wok or a pot with at least 2 inches deep of oil and heat the oil. Deep fry pork in small batches until brown. Fish out with a strainer and place on a platter lined with paper towels.

Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Saute onions until fragrant and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the garlic and saute until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add bagoong alamang, 1/2 cup pork stock, and chilies. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add pork belly and combine well. Serve warm with steamed rice.




  • Anonymous

    Crave this and agree on the hazards of frying pork belly to crispness.  Bagoong might not be good for you in the long run but it’s memories of crisp sour mangoes being dipped in it always make your mouth water.  I noticed the thai chilies on the picture and recipe, I don’t remember that being an option (but it’s worth a spicy try!).

    Great memories rekindled by your words and recipe.

  • Marla Zarris Zapanta

    Jun, I’ve said before that the main reason I can’t be truly vegan is because I can’t ever give up bagoong.  This recipe is really testing my willpower… Must. Have. Bagoongan.  

  • Jun Belen

    Marla, steamed rice with bagoong sauteed with garlic, onions, and tomatoes is one of my favorite meals.  So simple yet so incredibly good.  Go have some today! And add sliced green mangoes for good measure.

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you for the note.  My dad loves all things spicy so he always adds a few Thai chilies — or siling labuyo as we call it — in almost everything.  He has a stash of siling-labuyo-infused vinegar in the pantry — his favorite sawsawan.

  • Betty Ann @Mango_Queen

    Oh my goodness, this is the ultimate in Filipino comfort food! I was just contemplating on doing this, you must have read my mind. I know you suggested pork belly which is so good, but do you think I can do it with Pork Shoulder ? It’s what I have right now in my freezer. I’ll try your recipe. Like the rest you’ve shared, I’m sure this is terrific, too. Thanks for sharing, Jun!

  • Jeannie

    That looks delicious! I dislike frying pork too for fear of getting those popping oils leaving burnt spots on my arms! I have to hear long sleeve blouse and gloves before frying them lol!

  • Jean

    Jun, I’m drooling here.  I’ve never actually made binagoongan myself–have only ever had it at restaurants but I can tell yours would top any I’ve ever tasted.  Got any leftovers?  I’d happily make the drive for even a small portion. :)

  • Row

    I’m not brave enough to fry pork belly, but this looks superb!  Reminds me that I have a whole jar of bagoong alamang in the fridge with my name on it.  Yum…

  • Anonymous

    Thank looks so cool.

  • natzsm

    This is a dieters worst enemy. High in fats and cholesterol,  high in sodium,  and yes, you just have to consume it with a ton of rice. One of my favorite dishes!

    In making my binagoongan, I make my “lechon kawali in the turbo broiler. It saves on oil and you are safe from all the splattering.

  • Virgie C.

    soooo yummy with lots of rice

  • Connie

    i’ve never had the pleasure of eating this native dish BUT i am sure that it is masarap!  it does seem quite a mess to cook, so next time you decide to make it….please invite me to your table.

  • Jun Belen

    My mom back home makes lechon kawali the same way, too — in a turbo broiler.  She started using it after my sister bought her one.  She likes using it but still complains at how long the cooking takes.

    By the way, thank you for reminding us about how bad salt and fat are for you! LOL. Binagoongan is definitely not a dish I’d cook regularly but one I’d cook when I feel I deserve a little extravagance.

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Betty Ann. Pork shoulder will work. It’s definitely a healthier option than liempo.

  • Anonymous

    What an exquisite pork dish. The small shrimps though I wont be able to appreciate because I have hypersensitivity and since they were mashed I am sure the mixture becomes more flavorful. I bet my husband will love this! Thanks!

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  • Iyassantos

    waaaahhh!!! soooo good with fried eggplants! susmariosep, naglalaway na ako sa harap ng screen!!!

  • enjoywithjoy

    Wow and wow…I haven’t eaten this for 10 years and with your pictures you made me miss it even more :-)

  • Jun Belen

    I never liked eggplants in my binagoongan but having fried eggplants as a side to accompany it sounds really good!

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Joy, for writing! It has been way too long.  I think it’s time to get some pork belly and bagoong and make the dish.  Perfect with a piping hot rice!

  • M Delrosario68

    SARAP. :)

  • Joey

    MMM!  This is one of my most favorite Filipino dishes!  I can eat a ton of rice with this…

  • Jun Belen

    The salt and fat earnestly beg for more rice!

  • ‘Orange Avelino’

    So, i couldn’t wait the following morning to make this, i just had to, as i was going crazy over thoughts of this dish.Took me 3 hours haha as i made the lechon kawali first. We had dinner at almost 11 pm. This is the first time i have tried crispy pork on binagoongan. Usually the pork is boiled together with the sauce. This recipe is genius!!! It was worth the wait.

  • ‘Orange Avelino’

    This is how it looked.The photo doesn’t do it justice!

  • Jun Belen

    I am so happy you enjoyed the recipe.  What I love most about it is the crispy, crunchy texture of the pork belly.  Plus of course the bagoong. Bagoong plus rice is a completely satisfying meal, in my opinion.

  • Jun Belen

    It looks delicious! Did you add chilies? Love the extra heat!

  • Mario Silva

    I just cooked it tonight! thank you Jun Belen!

  • Jun Belen

    You’re very welcome. Happy to hear you enjoyed it!

  • Marvin Joseph Rivera

    I tried cooking this one but instead I cut the pork meat into two, seperated the fat/skin with a little bit of meat and the meat itself. Deep fried the one with the fat and stewed the other. I loved the combination of soft, tender and then juicy, crispy!

  • Jun Belen

    Love the mix of textures! Thank you, Marvin, for writing!

  • Lembest Lechon

    delicious meal on earth! lechon manok