Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mama's Giniling (Soy-braised Ground Pork with Carrots & Potatoes)

Here it is, folks, our mother's "world-famous" giniling dish.

We are sharing the secrets of what has sustained us lo these many years.

is our mother's old reliable. It never fails to grace our table once, twice, five times (or sometimes more) a month since. . . well, forever. (Or, at least since I remember eating.)

It is an extremely accessible dish, extremely popular with us "kids." (And now, popular with the real kids in the house, our bosses aged 4 and 3.)

This is the one dish that we "kids" have never complained about having so very often: our mother has never heard, as it pertains to this dish, the annoying, whiny question of, "Giniling AGAIN?"

A dish like this having a special kind of hold on us must be -- well, special.

Having nourished our family for decades, our mother believes that it will nourish others. Thus, she has taught this dish to many a newlywed just starting out on the journey of life.

"World-famous" indeed. ;)

In fact, up till about three years ago, this dish was so revered -- think cows roaming the streets of Hindu India -- that it did not even have a name. We did not even know how to call it. It was one of those newlywed "students," a young wife, who came up with the name we're using now.

The word "giniling" actually means ground up, and in this case, it refers of course to the ground pork.

This dish is very easy to do.
(The lighting is a bit off, so bear with the photographs.)

Brown 2 pounds of ground pork in a skillet.

Our mother sometimes adds about a tablespoon of vinegar to cook with the ground pork if she deems the pork to be too aggressively porcine for her liking. Drain and throw out the fluid that the pork generates. That's a Mama secret, which we are now sharing with our readers. ;)

Add black pepper to flavour the ground pork.

(Black pepper, of course! She is dictator of the Black Pepper Regime, as described here.)

The timing of the black pepper is interesting, and I personally do not know if our mother deems that this is exactly the RIGHT time to add the pepper for maximum flavour.

Add chopped garlic. Then, add 1 tablespoon of shao xing wine and 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce.

Add cubed up carrots and potatoes, about 1 cup of each.

The size of your dice does not matter. For no apparent reason, our mother sometimes makes small dice (extremely rare, though) and sometimes large dice. Sometimes the carrot and potato pieces aren't even really "dice"or cubes at all! ;)

Add approximately 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 cup of water. There should be enough water in the skillet so the ingredients do not burn. This dish is like a stew that it needs to simmer.

Add a tablespoon of sugar.


Let the mixture come up to a boil and keep on a low simmer until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Adjust the seasoning. You might need to add more soy sauce to taste.

Serve over white rice and enjoy.

"Classic" Giniling

And there you have it. This is a good dish to have in anybody's arsenal: it's tasty, it's easy, and it will not break the household budget. I can have this three times a week and not complain.

Recently, our mother started to experiment with other flavour combinations with giniling. One of her favourites is the Tomato & Preserved Chili Radish, shown below. [preserved CHILI radish info/pic]

Another one is Fried Tofu Puffs and Preserved Radish, without the spiciness.
[tofu puff pic/info; preserved radish (aka "Szechuan vegetable") pic/info]

These giniling versions are all made the same way. It's actually amazing how different they taste merely by switching around a couple of ingredients.

One ingredient that we (or at least, our mother) never use with pork is ginger, so no ginger was harmed in these dishes.

Not pairing pork with ginger is just a Chinese (or Fukien-Chinese) custom, similar to the Italian one of not pairing seafood with cheese, and the reason for this particular custom escapes me.

I like all the "gourmet" versions too, but my favourite still has to be the classic giniling.

Mama Dishes
Mama's Silkie Chicken ("Dyong Kwe")
Mama's Philippine-style Fruit Salad
Mama's Cilantro Beef Shin
Mama's Black Peppercorn Shortribs
Mama's Fish Head Soup
Mama's Giniling
Mama's Giniling, v4 and v5
Mama's Ampalaya (Bitter Melon)
Ma-Kut (Pork Bone) Soup


  1. I've never heard of the word 'giniling' but the recipe do not sound entirely unfamiliar to the asian palate. Mama's recipe will always be the most reliable and tasty!! ^_^ This is just so full of flavours and I love the step by step pics too! ;)

  2. Ahhh giniling.. It brings back memories of my childhood in Binondo..

    We also used to have raisins added to our giniling. The sweet and savoury seems to blend very well.

    Leftover giniling are cooked with eggs to make tortang giniling. Yummy for sure.

  3. I have never heard of shao xing wine can I get it in an Asian market? This dish looks very tasty and like you said kid friendly!

  4. this is my favorite..should i say..masarap!!

    ps, the photos make me drool

  5. My grandma has her version of Giniling too! and this is also the comfort food for our family! I should make a post about this soon...

    Thanks for bringing back good memories. - Ning

  6. This is really interesting. Family recipes are always the best!

  7. So sweet of you guys to share this! Big hugs to your mom as she really deserves it for comming up with such a delicious dish. I think my favourite is also the classic one and I would never comnplain for having it every day :D

  8. Mmmm, pork makes everything better - this looks great!

  9. I never heard of giniling before so thank you for making me less ignorant. hehe. Family recipes are the best! Thanks for sharing. I wish i could have some like... now! :-)

  10. I've almost forgotten about this dish. It's literally been more than a decade or so. I really appreciate the reminder and more importantly, the family recipe.

  11. haaha.. my mother has her own version too.. it's my fave as well. never gets tired of this dish. it brings back childhood memories, indeed.

  12. I have never heard of gniling. Enjoyed this article. There is nothing like the comfort food you were reared with.:) For me it was Irish Stew

  13. Ooooh! This looks so comforting! Mama's recipes are always the best, aren't they? I hadn't heard of giniling before, but now I think I need to try some. :)


  14. This dish is very home-cooking, so unless one grew up in a Filipino or Filipino-Chinese household, I don't think s/he would know about it!

    People who grew up with giniling, maybe you can share with us your family's giniling. =)

    Wow, we've never done that, making leftover giniling into torta! That's a great idea! (And hey, raisins, huh. Might have to try that. Although, alam mo naman, if we make it differently, then people might "complain", haha.)

    robin sue:
    Yes, shao xing wine is available in Asian supermarkets. Ours come in a dark brown bottle with a red label.

  15. This sounds nice and easy and tasty!

  16. I've never heard of "giniling", but it sure has familiar-looking ingredients cross-culturally! beat hamburger helper any day!

  17. Delicious dish! Really delicious!

  18. Just tried this. Extremely accurate recipe! 2 people and 1 whole empty pot. Thanks!


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