Another instalment of my #FilipinoFoodSessions is here, this time it's a recipe for a dish we call Balatong. While my family calls this dish Balatong, other areas of the Philippines call this Mongo. That's the cool thing about Filipino cuisine that I'm slowly learning - all of the variations across the provinces and regions of the country! Anyways, back to the Balatong - this dish is basically sauteed pork belly, boiled mung beans and ampalaya (bittermelon) leaves, but you can use other greens (typically spinach) in place of the bittermelon leaves too!
While I am a big fan of this dish now, I did not like this whatsoever when I was younger. I guess it was just one of those things that I had to grow into! But this is now definitely one of the Filipino dishes I crave AND to make things even better... I now realize how easy it is to make! This was my first attempt at cooking it but you bet I'll be making it way more often :)
And like most Filipino dishes, balatong is served with a lot of white rice making it a really yummy comfort food. My dad also taught my sister and I to eat it with shallots or red onions and a little bit of bagoong (anchovy paste) - the bite of the onion and saltiness of the bagoong compliment this dish perfectly.
Read on to see the simple preparation method and let me know what you think!
Below: A picture of the frozen bittermelon leaves that I used in this recipe. I found this in the veggie freezer section of my asian/chinese grocery store.
Below: I used split mung bean, I got this bag from my parents pantry (thanks mom and dad!) but you can find it in the asian grocery store as well!
When my parents make balatong, it typically has more soup ("sabaw") in comparison to how mine turned out. You can adjust the amount of soup quite easily by adding or reducing the amount of water you add to the recipe.
3/4 C split mung beans
4 - 5 C water (depending on how much soup you want, you can add more water)
3/4 lb pork belly, cut into small strips
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
1/2 tbsp salt
1 bag of bittermelon leaves
1. Add the mung beans and water to a pot on high heat and boil until cooked, this takes about 15 - 20 minutes. To check if the beans are done you should be able to easily squish a bean between your thumb and index finger.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet or pot on medium-high heat, brown the pork belly until cooked through and crispy. Next add in the garlic, onions, salt and patis and mix together to combine.
3. Once the mung beans are cooked, add them (and any excess cooking water) to the cooked pork belly mixture and stir to combine. Finally add in the bittermelon leaves and mix together. You can add more water at this point if you want more soup! Then let simmer on low heat for 5 - 10 minutes and that's about it - serve with white rice, devour & enjoy!