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Igado is a popular Ilocano dish made from pork tenderloin and pig’s innards such as liver, kidney, heart. This is definitely one of the best Filipino foods around, in my opinion. However, some people might still need to acquire a taste for it.
There are many ways to describe Filipino cooking. But one trait that probably stands out in Pinoy cooks is their resourcefulness, and creativity in utilizing as much of every ingredient. But that can also be why some people are hesitant to try out some local dishes. Take this Igado as an example. In my opinion, it is one of the best Philippine recipes out there, and possesses some of the best flavors with its soy sauce, white vinegar, and of course, mix of meat components.
The last part might make some people doubt the beauty of this dish. But believe me when I say that Igado is worth a try, and will let you know one of the best ways to have pork liver, kidney and tenderloin all in one. Let me answer a few of the questions you might have in mind with regards to this dish!
Getting to know the meaty Igado dish:
Here’s the 411 on our recipe of the day. If it seems unfamiliar to you, that may be because you’re from a different part of the Philippines. But Igado is a pretty famous Ilocano recipe!
Origins of Igado:
This is a unique spiced dish made with a variety of seasonings, as well as a couple of vegetables to complement the meat ingredients. It is also pretty popular for its use of pig innards, as I mentioned earlier. But we will go deeper into the components for this dish later on.
Studies show that Igado was influenced by Spanish cuisine, which you might already be able to tell from its name. “Higado” means liver in Spanish, and some say that Filipinos heard it as “Igado,” hence its name today.
What matches Igado:
You can choose whatever side dish you like for Igado. But because it’s pretty flavorful and rich, you may want to opt for food with lighter flavor. After all, you don’t want to overpower the already tasty mix of flavors in Igado. This is why the recipe is well-known as a great “ulam” or viand to have with a fresh batch of rice.
It is also pretty common to eat this with drinks as it is a perfect “pulutan” dish! Just like Sisig, this tasty dish helps to offset the rough effect of alcohol, and leaves you reaching for more after every bite. It may not be as famous as the likes of Crispy Pata, but it is definitely something to note for your next drinking session. You can expect a delightfully salty and sour dish to keep you energized as you catch up with friends or family. Before we get to the cooking part though, here are a couple of things you’ll need to prepare for the dish.
The ingredients you’ll need for a tasty Igado dish:
The first thing you will want to get is ½ lb. of pork tenderloin. To make this good for our Igado, you have to slice them up into strips. This should be about 2 inches per strip. Try to make sure the size is consistent so it cooks evenly. And when you’re still picking out this ingredient in the market, it is best to look for pork that’s on the firm side. You should avoid those with dark areas on the fat, and have a paler shade.
This will involve a preparation process that’s similar to the previous one, except we’re adding another step. Because this is innards, you really have to ensure this ingredient is clean. Run your ½ lb. of pork liver under some water, and wash this thoroughly. Then cut this up into 2-inch strips like what we did with the tenderloin.
Now for selecting your pork liver, it is best to avoid those that seem to have wrinkles. And try to look at the liver’s veins, and pick the one with a consistent color for better quality. Fresh liver also tends to have a more vibrant color, and so it’s best to go for this.
We will also need ½ lb. of pork kidney for the recipe. But when it comes to cleaning this, you will need to both place this under running water, and let it sit in a bowl of water with salt for 10 minutes. Don’t skip this step, as it is very helpful in warding off the unpleasant smell that comes with this meat cut.
Seasonings and spices
Knorr Pork Cube
This ingredient is perfect as a quick and easy way to heighten the taste of your meat dish. It’s also really easy to deal with as you just need to toss it in your dish, and wait for the magic to mix into your ingredients. You’ll only have to put one cube for our recipe.
Pick out just three of these for your dish because a little goes a long way! This can help make our dish more fragrant, as well as give off a bit of bitterness for the taste.
Who doesn’t want the simple savor of onion in their meal? This is a famous ingredient for a reason. It can truly elevate the flavor of your dish, plus it’s really accessible. Just get one piece, and mince it up for this recipe. You don’t have to be too picky with your onions, but it would be best to steer clear of those with soft spots. You should also go for the drier kinds of onion.
Another well-loved component— garlic would be perfect for most dishes, including this one. Go ahead, and take 5 cloves, and then mince them.
Is it actually possible to enter a Filipino kitchen without spotting this famous condiment? For Igado, you will just need 6 tablespoons of soy sauce. It is important not to put too much as the amount can mean the difference between an overwhelmingly salty dish, and one with the perfect balance of umami and sourness.
We will need just a bit less of white vinegar for this recipe— 5 tablespoons to be exact. I really appreciate how easily distinguishable some dishes become with a splash of vinegar. Adding this component truly makes Igado what it is— pleasantly sharp and earthy.
Salt and pepper
These almost always come in a perfect pairing. And when in doubt, we often just resort to sprinkling in a good deal of salt and pepper. The rule somewhat applies to this dish as well because we can add as much as we prefer. But since, as you can probably notice, we already use plenty of other seasonings, I don’t think we have to add too much of these two.
Red bell pepper
I definitely love adding some bell peppers into my dish. Red bell peppers, in particular, are fantastic for getting some vitamin A in your system. These are great for your white blood cells, as well as maintaining your eyes. They also add a slight sweetness, and a crunch to the dish. For our Igado, you will just need to get one red bell pepper, and slice these into strips.
We will use up ½ cup for this dish. These add a nice, soft texture to our dish, and of course, you can’t forget about the health benefits in this ingredient. It is rich in zinc, vitamins C and E, and more!
Here is yet another food that is perfect for helping your eyes because of the beta-carotene you can find in it. Just grab one piece, and then Julienne it. This would mean cutting the carrot into thin, long strips, which would be about two to three inches.
Now our onion and garlic components definitely count as vegetables. But because of their strong flavors, I classified them under spices. This would mean adding or removing a particular amount of these ingredients could drastically change the flavor levels of our dish. That, and because they are chopped into fine bits, you probably would not be able to notice the texture of these components as much as our other vegetables.
Other ingredients for the cooking process
Water and cooking oil
These are just some liquid ingredients you will need to get all of the components cooking. For the water, you should prepare 1 ¼ cup, while for the cooking oil, it would be 4 tablespoons’ worth.
Making your Igado:
If you’re more of a visual learner, let me help you out! I have the video to guide you step by step.
But should you prefer to see the steps splayed out in words, let me walk you through the process right here.
Step 1: Preparing the meat
First, you will need to grab the kidney, and then put this in a pot. Add 4 thumbs of ginger, and then boil these together for a minimum of 30 minutes. Afterwards, you can take the kidney out, and wait for it to cool. Once it does, you can go ahead, and cut this up into 2-inch strips.
Now we will pour 2 tablespoons of cooking oil inside a pan. Get the pork liver, and start sautéing this. Once you’ve done this for 2 minutes, you can take the liver out of the pan. Afterwards, we will add the 2 tablespoons left of cooking oil in the same pan, and let this all heat up. Then put your garlic and onion inside, and sauté these.
When the onion is soft, you can incorporate the pork kidney you prepared earlier. Cook all of these for 1 minute. Now put the pork tenderloin inside, and sauté this until the exterior becomes light brown.
Step 2: Mixing in the seasonings
How about integrating a whole lot of classic Igado flavor into our dish? Mix in your soy sauce and vinegar, and wait for everything to boil. Once it does, stir everything up, and then put your laurel leaves and water inside. We will get this to boil again, and then get the medium to low or medium setting.
Keep everything cooking for a good 40 minutes to integrate those spices together. Place your Knorr Pork Cube inside afterwards, and wait for 8 minutes. Let’s go ahead, and put the pork liver back inside, and then stir the mixture. Cook this for 3 minutes.
Step 3: Cooking up our vegetables
It’s time to also grab our bell peppers, carrots and green peppers, and incorporate these into the dish. Then season everything with some ground black pepper and salt. After that, you just have to let everything cook for two minutes. And there you go! You have made a delicious Igado dish perfectly!
If you like to eat pork liver, I also recommend our Grilled Liver Bistek Recipe.
Try this Igado recipe. Let me know what you think.
- 1/2 lbs. pork tenderloin sliced into 2-inch strips
- 1/2 lb. pork liver sliced into 2-inch strips
- 1/2 lb. pork kidney
- 1 Knorr Pork Cube
- 1 red bell pepper cut into strips
- 1/2 cup green peas
- 1 carrot julienne
- 3 laurel leaves
- 1 onion minced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 4 tablespoons cooking oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Boil the kidney with 4 thumbs of ginger for at least 30 minutes. Let it cool down and slice into 2-inch strips. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a pan. Sauté the pork liver for 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Pour the remaining oil in the pan. Once hot, sauté garlic and onion until the latter softens.
- Add the pork kidney. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the pork tenderloin. Sauté until the outer layer turns light brown.
- Pour the soy sauce and vinegar into the pan. Let the liquid boil. Stir.
- Add the laurel leaves and pour water. Let boil. Reduce the heat between low to medium setting. Continue cooking for 40 minutes.
- Add Knorr Pork Cube. Cook for 8 minutes.
- Add the liver back into the pan. Stir and continue cooking for 3 minutes.
- Put the bell pepper, carrot, and green peas.
- Season with salt and ground black pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve hot with rice.
- Share and enjoy!