The “graveyard” shift in a call centre was both a boon and a bane for me. When Manila became a major US outsourcing hub in the early 2000s, salaries upped several notches. I did jump on the bandwagon as many of us did. There was a catch, though – the challenge of keeping myself awake while everyone was asleep. That was when I first met this low-key delicious Filipino dish, Gising-Gising.
I was a picky all-meat-or-I-won’t-eat child of the 80’s. Only when I started working did I appreciate the succulent world of veggies. But the poor Winged Bean or sigarilyas that’s the protagonist in this dish was unknown to me at the time.
Gising-Gising is not as popular as the all-star kare-kare or lechon. But I tell you this is a dark horse in the Philippine cuisine. The word “gising” means to wake up. The crunch of the winged bean and kick of chillies propped up my eyelids in every mouthful. The sweet coconut milk smothering the mound of hot steamed rice brought up smiles to my doubly tiring upside down world. “One day”, I swore, “I will make my own Gising-Gising version that’s chunkier and creamier!”
That first encounter was just the beginning. Here, folks, is my own chunkier, creamier version, if you will.
- 2 bundles (approx. 250 g) of winged bean, cut into 1/4″ lengths
- 200 g small to medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
- 200 g ground beef or pork
- 250 ml coconut milk
- 2 bird’s eye chilies (siling labuyo) for garnish
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a pan with oil over medium heat and saute garlic and onion until translucent.
- Add in the ground beef first, then the shrimp.
- Add the winged bean. (Blanch prior to cooking to make it more vibrant and crunchy).
- Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chillies.
It is typical to buy veggies bundled or in a pile or stack in wet markets here. So I am approximating a bundle of the winged bean to be 100 to 150 grams. Increase or decrease, as you please. Add a dash of fun and I promise you’ll never go wrong. A delicious dish that’s simple to make should bring joy to every cook.
I used ground beef in this recipe, but ground pork is acceptable. A more economical take on this dish is the use of a few tablespoons of shrimp paste instead of medium-sized shrimp. I find beef tastier than pork in this situation. My goal of making a chunkier version calls for plump shrimp to complement the crunch of the sigarilyas.
I decided to blanch the winged bean pieces as I like them looking vibrant and crunchy. This meant that I put them into a pan of briskly boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes and shocking them into ice cold water. I did this step right before I started sautéeing.
I served this last night for dinner and the hibernating rice-eater in me had awakened. There was no way I could resist it, so I had prepared a cup of steamed organic red rice to match this awesome dish.
Now I’m happy to have eluded the chains of the night shift. But it doesn’t mean I would no longer need the magical charms of this wake up dish. Gising-Gising will always be my discreetly special, go-to recipe. I hope it becomes yours, too.