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Monday, August 2, 2010

Mung Bean Stew at Nilda's Filipino

Posted By on Mon, Aug 2, 2010 at 7:30 AM

click to enlarge Monggo guisado with pork and Swiss chard ($5.50). - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Monggo guisado with pork and Swiss chard ($5.50).
Monday, August 2, 2010

"Look how beautiful the mestizas are," says Nilda Yanga, pointing to a beauty pageant flashing on a screen in a high corner of this dusty-looking market, dominated by a turo-turo counter stocked with a dozen Filipino dishes. The Pinoy channel is showing pale young women in one-pieces and tiaras ― Yanga says the beauty queens have Spanish blood. "Not like me," she sighs. "I am not beautiful."

Needless to say, Yanga is pretty. Flirtatious, too, tough she's old enough to be my auntie, and clearly hopes I'll deny her claims of homeliness. Instead, after she tells me she's from Pampanga province, I flatter her in a different way. "They say the best cooks come from there." Yanga beams.

Yanga and her brother Gil do the cooking here. Good pork skewers, decent pancit, but today, I tap my finger on the glass of the fogged-up point-point case at something new: monggo guisado, mung bean stew.

click to enlarge Tortang talong ($4). - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Tortang talong ($4).
It's creamy and lightly viscous as good split-pea soup. Yanga's put what she calls "leaves" in it ― long ribbons of Swiss chard, mingled with frilly white pieces of pork connective tissue cooked long enough to go soft. The flavor of bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) dominates. It registers alkaline-fishy on the tongue, like Spanish botarga, the way you imagine some heavily evaporated tide pool to taste.

It needs something bland to go with: Rice, of course, but also tortang talong, a roasted, flattened-out Asian eggplant (stem still attached), dipped in egg and fried like French toast. Beautiful.

Nilda's Filipino Food: Inside Bernal Heights Produce, 800 Cortland (at Gates); 643-8903.

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