How to cook Gising Gising

Published on wikamag.com, 2012

Gising Gising (lit. “Wake up!”) is a simple but fiery dish that literally keeps you awake with a jolt of spiciness. Supposedly, this comes from Bicol, but some people I have met argue that it came from Pampanga. Personally, I think the argument that it is originally Bicolano makes more sense, due to its distinct similarity with the Bicol Express.

Just like the Express, Gising Gising uses coconut milk and pork. However, compared to its more popular cousin, this recipe is easier to cook, and the ingredients are fewer and relatively easier to find, making it a popular pulutan (drinking accompaniment), or a quick-fix dinner for working moms like me. Since getting married, I have been trying my hand at cooking at least once a week, and this is now one of my go-to dishes. If you can get yourself some fresh niyog (grated coconut meat) you can make your own coconut milk at home. Some supermarkets in the Philippines grate coconut meat on the spot for you.

You can make milk from scratch by buying some coconut and grating the meat yourself. Just pour a bit of hot water (or hot cow’s milk) over the niyog (just enough to make it damp), then squeeze it over a strainer, one handful at a time. When you’re done, take the used niyog and repeat the process. You now have gata, or fresh coconut milk. It is said to make the dish creamier, and the milk balances out the spice better than the canned variety (ask any traditional Filipino mom). But if this is not an option where you are, and you can’t readily find niyog, or if don’t have the time to prepare the milk, then canned coconut milk is fine (just don’t tell your mom). 

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium sized onion (diced)
  • 1/4 kilo ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons bagoong (shrimp paste)
  • 1/4 kilo sigarilyas (wing beans; trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch pcs)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 3 long green chillies (cut into 1/4-inch pcs)

Cooking Time: 10 – 15 minutes Serves: 2 – 3 people Directions:

  1. Sauté the garlic and onion for a few minutes or until onion gets a bit opaque.
  2. Add the ground pork and sauté until brown.
  3. Combine the shrimp paste and mix well.
  4. Add sigarilyas and sauté for a minute before pouring coconut milk into the pot.
  5. Simmer for about 5 minutes and stir occasionally.
  6. Add the green chillies and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the beans are slightly tender.
  7. Optional: Season with pepper and/or garnish with siling labuyo (chilli pepper).

Other variations of the recipe include ginger. If you can’t find wing beans, you can use string beans instead. You can choose to add the chillies before the coconut milk if you want more of a kick. The longer the chillies are cooked, the spicier the dish gets. Serve this with a steaming bowl of rice. Also, it goes well with a cold glass of beer.