My dad's Beef Pinapaitan tops my list of favorite comfort food. I've had this dish ever since I can remember. Pinapaitan (from the root word "pait" which means bitter) is an Ilocano dish made with either beef or goat meat (sometimes innards are included), and is flavored with chili and bile. We Ilocanos are known to be a thrifty lot and it is no surprise that this trait is inherent in our cooking. Waste not. Want not.
Some people say that pinapaitan is an acquired taste. Some get turned off by its color. Some get turned off by its bitter taste. Anthony Bourdain, during his visit to the Philippines, tasted pinapaitan and he liked it. Maybe in his past life, he was an Ilocano. But then again AB eats almost anything hahaha.
I, however, love pinapaitan. When piping hot, the soup is amazingly delicious. The bitterness, which comes from the addition of the bile, warms and comforts you, as do the chilis added to the dish. My dad used to say " ang pait, ang tamis" giving another meaning to the term "bittersweet."
A couple of months ago, I asked my dad to teach me how to make beef pinapaitan. He said the important thing is to use the freshest ingredients, particularly the bile and the beef. "Make sure to use bile that is "primera klase", he says. The second thing he told me was to make sure that I don't overcook the beef or else I'll end up with tough, leathery meat.
I watched as he sliced the beef in a certain way (against the grain, he said). I looked intently as he strained the bile and added it to the pot, followed by some water to lessen the bitterness. For some strange reason, I can always tell whether or not a bowl of beef pinapaitan was cooked and prepared by my dad. Maybe it's because i've had pinapaitan since I was a kid. Maybe it's because when my dad prepares this dish, the beef is meltingly tender. Or maybe everytime he prepares this special dish, he prepares it with a lot of love. :) This is the best beef pinapaitan ever.
(please note that my dad doesn't measure his ingredients so I had to eyeball the measurement)
1 kilo beef lomo (tenderloin), sliced thinly into 1 1/2" strips
1/2 kilo liver, sliced thinly into 1 1/2"
cow bile, strained ( my dad used 2 sacs)
1 onion, sliced
1 ginger, sliced thinly
sili mahaba (long green chillies)
spring onions, sliced
salt and pepper to taste.
Wash beef and liver thoroughly, then pat dry. Thinly slice beef and liver and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a pot, saute garlic, onions and ginger until fragrant. Add bile and dilute with water. (You can always adjust bile and water ratio to suit your taste.)
Let it simmer for a few minutes. Add the chillies. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. When the soup comes to a slow boil, add the thinly sliced beef and liver. Turn off heat. The residual heat from the soup will cook the beef. Sprinkle chopped spring onions.
Serve hot with rice.