What Is Bopis?

B. Chisholm

Bopis is a spicy Filipino dish containing finely chopped pig's lungs and heart sautéed with chilies, onions and sometimes tomato. It may be eaten as a bar snack similar to Spanish tapas or as a main meal, usually with steamed rice. Recipes for bopis may differ from region to region and family to family, with regards to ingredients, spices and flavoring.

Bixa fruit, which is used to make annatto, one of the ingredients in bopis.
Bixa fruit, which is used to make annatto, one of the ingredients in bopis.

Filipino cuisine has been inspired through history by various cultures that have been involved in the history of the Philippines. Located in the Pacific Ocean, and part of southeast Asia, the country, which consists of over a thousand islands, has seen many cultures pass through it due to its location on a migratory route. The Malaysians came first, then the Chinese, Spanish and Americans. Each of these left influences on the cuisine now known as Filipino cuisine.

Tomato is sometimes used in bopis.
Tomato is sometimes used in bopis.

The pig lungs may have a very pungent odor so before making bopis it is advised that they are well cleaned. Nowadays the butcher may do this, but there are many traditional methods too. These include simmering the lungs in wine, vinegar or a combination of lemon grass and pandan before using.

Bopis has a fine texture so the lungs and heart are chopped or minced well. The dish is usually cooked in a wok at high heat and the garlic and onions are sautéed until browned. Depending on the recipe, chili may be added at this point. The heart and lungs are then added with vinegar. Some cooks add stock too.

Some bopis recipes require the addition of carrots or tomatoes. The pot is then left to simmer until it is cooked to the right consistency. Again, preferences differ, as some cooks prefer a saucy dish, while others cook for longer to give a drier consistency. More chili may be added before serving, as well as salt and ground black pepper to taste.

A commonly used ingredient when cooking bopis is annatto, which is an orange colorant and flavorant. This is made from the pulp around the seed of the Bixa orellana tree, which was originally from Latin America but has spread throughout the tropical areas of the world. It is described as having a peppery taste. The overall taste of bopis, is a spicy, tangy flavor, which has a good bite to it, depending on the amount of chili used. It is often served as an accompaniment to beer in Filipino bars.

Bopis is usually served with steamed rice.
Bopis is usually served with steamed rice.

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