Monday, March 8, 2010

Bopis or Bopiz (Lights Sauteed in Onions, Tomatoes and Chilies)

As a sign of respect I need to forewarn that if you are squeamish or faint-hearted, this post might not be for you. It deals on a subject matter others might find somewhat bizarre and alarming especially by non-Filipinos. But if you have interest in discovering amazing exotic dishes made from pork or beef internal organs and the likes, then by all means continue reading. You are in for a wonderful culinary experience, creating sumptuous dish out of unusually unique meat parts. A bit peculiar or to some extent disturbing as it may, but some surprisingly delicious dishes like “Bopis” are made from extraordinary ingredients and rather simple methods of preparation.

As I have mentioned before I love offal. My wife and children might be giving me a frown look but I have been exposed to such food and have learned to like them, really like them. I have shown this special affection by posting some odd Filipino dishes made from pork and beef entrails, innards, gonad, phallus and even blood like in the following dishes: “Dinuguan” or Pork Blood Stew, “Goto” or Beef Tripe Congee, “Callos” or Beef Tripe Stew and Soup Number 5 or Bull/Ox Gonad Soup.

Lights are the lungs of livestock or game as used in cooking and butchery. Apart from the Philippine’s “Bopis”, lights are also use in other dishes of other countries like in the Scottish national dish called “haggis”. A sausage dish made from sheep's “pluck” or heart, liver and lungs and traditionally simmered in the casing of the animal’s intestine. Pretty much like the Filipino “longanisa”.

“Bopis” on the other hand, is a spicy Filipino dish made from finely diced pork or beef lights (or lungs) and heart sautéed in garlic, onions, tomatoes, chilies and infused and flavored with vinegar. The unique dish, called “Bopiz” in Spanish, was probably introduced to the Philippines or influenced by the Spaniard colonizers. But I don’t know this for sure. While “bopis” is traditionally cooked using pork lights and heart I will be using only beef lights to prepare the dish. :-)

For the more than 2 kilos beef lights our cook purchased for less than 5 USD, some fresh vegetables are necessary to re-create the sumptuous Filipino dish. About 2 large plum tomatoes, 1 head garlic, 3 medium onions, 1 large red bell pepper, 2 green chili peppers, 2 finger chilies, 1 medium carrot and 1 medium white radish or mooli.

To cook, thoroughly wash the beef lights, drain and place in a large pot, cover with enough water and boil for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the meat is just tender. Take out the lungs from the pot and let it cool a bit before dicing. Discard the liquid.

While the boiled lungs are cooling down, finely dice all the vegetable ingredients shown above. In addition, prepare about ¼ cup vegetable oil, 2 tbs annatto oil (1/4 cup annatto seeds or "atsuete" steeped in 2 tbsp hot oil then strained to discard the seeds), 3 pcs bay leaves (“laurel”), 2 tsp salt or to taste, 2 tsp ground pepper, ½ tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp fish sauce (“patis”) and 1 cup natural vinegar. The complete other ingredients are as shown here except for the about 3 cups beef or chicken stock or just water:

Finely dice the boiled lungs as well. Since more than 2 kilos beef lights is quite a lot of meat, dicing it is not an easy job. :-)

In a large thick pan heat about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and fry the garlic followed by onions and tomatoes. While sizzling, add in the fish sauce followed by salt and ground pepper. Then add the diced lungs and continue sautéing until the meat is sizzling in fat and aromatic. Add the annatto oil and then the vinegar. Let the vinegar boil without stirring.

When the liquid is already boiling, stir the meat to evenly mix the flavor. Then add all the remaining ingredients. Continue stirring to mix all ingredients evenly. Add the stock and simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings and level of vinegar. Continue simmering for some more minutes. When the liquid is reduced and has slightly thickened, it’s done.

Transfer in a large serving plate and serve with lots of rice. In the Philippines, the dish is usually served to Filipino men as bites or “pulutan” while drinking their favorite alcoholic beverages, like “Sisig Pampanga” and “Imbaligtad”. But eating it as viand for steamed rice is now very common even for the ladies and young ones. After all, the level of kick can be adjusted so that it can be handled by everyone. This recipe, for one, is not really hot as I have group mates not really into chilies.

Enjoy this distinctly delicious dish. Try and see it for yourself. Once you taste the dish, you might change the way you look at animal lungs or lights as culinary ingredients. c“,)

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