The abundance of coconuts on our islands makes the fruit an important part of our cuisine. Gata, or coconut milk, is used to dress squash, make gising-gising creamy, or wrap up a meal through desserts like ginataang bilo-bilo.
In this recipe, we decided to introduce more of that delicious coconut flavor into what would otherwise be a traditional pork in gata recipe. Using fresh buko juice (coconut water), including its meat, concentrates the coconut flavor of the stew, drawing out its luscious, slightly sweet, and nutty flavors. The coconut meat softens while cooking, making for a surprising bite.
- ½ kg pork belly, cubed
- 3 cups coconut water
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp ginger, grated
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 green chilies, chopped
- 1 cup coconut cream
- ½ cup water
- salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare oven: Preheat oven to broiler setting.
Cook pork: Place pork belly in a pot and cover with coconut water. Set pot over high heat until boiling, then turn down heat to a simmer, covering the pot. Let cook until pork belly is tender, about 1 hour.
Broil pork: Once pork belly is cooked, remove from liquid and pat dry. Toss pork belly in oil and set on a baking sheet. Place in oven under the broiler until browned, flipping halfway through, about 10–15 minutes total. Set aside.
Cook sauce: Place oil in a pan over medium heat. Add ginger, cilantro, and chilies, cooking until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add coconut cream and water and stir until combined. Cook until boiling and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add crispy braised pork belly and stir in the sauce.
Serve: Garnish with cilantro and chilies. Serve hot with steamed rice.