This Umami-Packed Filipinx Pork Dish Literally Means “Wake-Up Wake-Up”

updated Feb 5, 2021
Gising-Gising (Pork Simmered in Coconut Milk and Shrimp Paste)

In this popular Filipinx recipe, ground pork is simmered in coconut milk, green beans, and bagoong, a special ingredient that boosts umami.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes

Cook50 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Neal Santos; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Gising-gising, which literally translates to “wake-up wake-up,” is not a dish I grew up eating, but I wish I did! It’s packed with spice from chiles and deeply savory bagoong (more on that below), so it definitely wakes up the senses. It’s part of a family of dishes called ginataan, which translates to “food cooked in coconut milk.”

I discovered gising-gising on my most recent visit to the Philippines and ordered it wherever I went. After learning how it was prepared, I knew I’d be able to easily recreate it when I returned to the United States. What makes it such a great weeknight recipe is how quickly it all comes together and how versatile it is. Soften the aromatics, brown the ground pork, add the bagoong, then allow the mixture to simmer gently in the coconut milk. Cook the mixture until the coconut milk is almost completely reduced and coats the ground pork, then add in green beans and cook them until just crisp-tender. 

Credit: Photo: Neal Santos; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

Cooking with Bagoong

In this Filipinx package, I really wanted to share a dish that features bagoong — a popular condiment of fermented shrimp paste — so that a Western cook can see how it’s used to enhance umami flavors without imparting a shrimpy or fishy taste. Gising-gising is a perfect example of that. Western cooks can think of the concept of bagoong as similar to tomato paste or anchovies, which are often used to boost umami in stews and sauces. Bagoong is used the same way here. I add it into the pan, allow it to coat the aromatics, and cook it until aromas are released. It adds a deep, savory flavor to the mix.

Riffing on Gising-Gising

Just as essential as the bagoong is the use of chili peppers. I call for Fresno chile in this recipe because of its accessibility to a Western audience, but if you can access small Thai chiles or red finger chiles, use those instead. I also have you deseed the chile, but if you desire more heat, keep some seeds in or add more!

In addition to chiles, onion and garlic are your aromatic base, but ginger would work well, too. Finely chop and add it in when you cook the rest of the aromatics. Another way to riff is to add a hearty green instead of green beans. In the Philippines, a popular green is kangkong, or water spinach. I think mature spinach would be a nice alternative.

Regardless of which exact direction you take, serve it over rice and top with crushed pork rinds. The pork rinds are a garnish used throughout Pinx cuisine and they give the dish some much-needed texture.

Gising-Gising (Pork Simmered in Coconut Milk and Shrimp Paste)

In this popular Filipinx recipe, ground pork is simmered in coconut milk, green beans, and bagoong, a special ingredient that boosts umami.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 50 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    red Fresno chile

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

  • 1 pound

    ground pork

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons

    bagoong (fermented shrimp paste), plus more as needed

  • 1 (about 13-ounce)

    can full-fat coconut milk

  • 8 ounces

    green beans

  • 2 cups

    pork rinds

  • Cooked rice, for serving

Instructions

  1. Finely chop 1 medium yellow onion and 4 garlic cloves. Holding 1 Fresno chile by the stem end, cut the lower half into thin rounds. Stem, seed, and finely chop the remaining half of the chile. (Keep some seeds in if you like it more spicy.)

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, chopped Fresno chile, and a pinch of kosher salt, and cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes.

  3. Increase the heat to medium-high. Push the vegetables to one half of the pan. Add 1 pound ground pork, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the other half of the pan. Cook, breaking up the pork with a wooden spoon into small pieces, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons bagoong and cook, stirring frequently, until it coats the pork and is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1 can coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk coats the pan and thickens to where you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir, 18 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, trim 8 ounces green beans and cut into 1 1/2- inch pieces. Place 2 cups pork rinds in a zip top bag and coarsely crush with a rolling pin or bottom of a pot.

  5. Add the green beans to the pan and cook until crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Taste and season with salt, pepper, or more bagoong as needed. Garnish with the sliced chiles and pork rinds. Serve with rice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days.

Amelia Rampe’s Weeknight Filipinx Guide

This recipe is part of our weeknight Filipinx cooking guide, designed to bring the diverse cuisine of the Philippines into your kitchen. Head to the intro piece to read more from Amelia, and check out all of the recipes below.

1 / 5
How to Make Lugaw
For me and many Filipinx, lugaw is the ultimate comfort food. It’s often served on rainy days and when you’re sick. And even though it’s mostly considered a breakfast food, I’m happy to eat lugaw morning, noon, and night!
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2 / 5
Gising-Gising (Pork Simmered in Coconut Milk and Shrimp Paste)
Gising-gising, which literally translates to “wake-up wake-up,” is not a dish I grew up eating, but I wish I did! It’s packed with spice from chiles and deeply savory bagoong, so it definitely wakes up the senses. It’s part of a family of dishes called ginataan, which translates to food cooked in coconut milk.
Go to Recipe
3 / 5
Shrimp and Fish Sinigang (Tamarind Stew)
Sinigang is a tamarind-based stew that really showcases the Flipinx love of sour. I love the broth so much, I always used to go back for seconds of more broth on rice. It’s a comforting feeling to this day.
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4 / 5
Chicken Adobo with Coconut Milk (Adobo sa Gatâ)
In my life, I’ve enjoyed adobo many ways. One of my favorites is adobo infused with coconut milk. There are coconuts all over the Philippines, and in this recipe coconut milk adds a luxurious texture to the broth.
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Bistek
In the Philippines, we love the taste of sour, and bistek is the ultimate celebration of that flavor profile. It’s beef marinated in calamansi juice (or citrus juice, if you can’t find calamansi), soy sauce, chopped garlic, thick sliced onions, and bay leaves, and it really packs a punch.
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