Monday, October 3, 2011

Tocino A La Lalaine (Filipino Cured Pork)

For me, “tapa” (meat jerky), “longanisa” (a type of fresh sausage) and “tocino” (sweet cured pork) all together make the triumvirate of authentic Filipino meat breakfast. Arguably, I think they comprise the top Filipino-style meat preparation (or processing, if you like) techniques that have captured the unique taste of Filipinos. As a result, most mothers always include them in their weekly menu, especially for those who have kids with persistent habit of escaping breakfast. The food serves as bait in effectively luring kids back to the dining table. The sight of the freshly cooked meat alongside garlic fried rice and sunny side-up eggs are simply too enticing to ignore, even when in rush. Yes, I’m speaking from my own experience. :-)

For this post, our friend Lalaine will be sharing a unique recipe for pork “tocino”, a top favorite of most children including mine. While generally, “tocino” is prepared by marinating or curing thin slices of pork in salt, sugar, Anise wine, annatto, garlic and saltpeter, Lalaine’s version is with the use of pineapple juice and totally without saltpeter or “salitre” (in the local language). While I understand that saltpeter is a standard additive in most commercial preparation intended to extend the shelf life of the processed meat, I think homemade versions such as Lalaine’s should consider deleting it …… and I am happy she did. 

The reason is that saltpeter is actually potassium nitrate, a chemical use in the manufacture of gunpowder and explosive devices as well as fertilizers. Therefore, the fireworks and rockets we light during New Year’s celebration have saltpeter in them and I don’t think you like the additive to be in your food as well. :-)

“Tocino” is traditionally simmered in a small amount of water until the liquid evaporates and the meat is then slightly fry with the rendered fat and some oil. Alternately, you can directly fry it in oil though this method will usually result to somewhat burnt appearance. Another way of cooking, although not very popular, is by grilling it over live charcoal where the resulting dish will taste like pork barbeque with a unique hint of cured meat.

There are many recipes on how to prepare homemade “tocino” but I find Lalaine’s technique as very simple and sure to be loved by kids. Her use of pineapple juice infuses a slightly tart taste which somehow counters the sweetness and the flavor balancing effect works very fine with my taste buds.

To prepare, we need about 2 kilograms (4.4 lbs) thinly sliced pork. The shoulder cut called “kasim” is my preferred meat although round (or leg chop) or “pigue” will also work well. I don’t bother having some fatback in the meat. It will make for a much flavorful dish. However, you are at liberty to take them out and cook separately as “rebosado” and just use the lean meat for “tocino”. :)

The other ingredients needed are 750 ml pineapple juice, 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp white sugar (brown sugar is also fine), 2 1/2 tbsp iodized salt, 1 head garlic, finely minced, 1/2 tsp MSG (optional) and a drop of red food coloring.

The first step is to boil the pineapple juice until it is reduced and has slightly thickened. Set aside and let it cool down.

In wide mixing bowl, combine the meat with garlic, sugar, salt and MSG (if using). Mix thoroughly until the marinade is well distributed to the meat.

Add in thickened pineapple juice and mix once again until evenly coated. Add a drop of food coloring and mix until gorgeously red in color. Keep in the fridge and let to cure for at least 3 days.

During the curing/marinating period, stir once in a while to ensure even infusion of flavors. After about 3 days, it’s ready to go. :-)

To cook, fry the “tocino” the way you like it which in the case of Lalaine is by direct frying in hot oil. Fry in batches. Never mind if the edges will exhibit some burnt sugar. That’s how it’s going to be and it will still be tasty. :)

Continue frying the rest of the meat or as much as you need. Two (2) kilos might be too much for your health. Drain in paper towel to remove excess oil.

Serve with plain rice and sliced tomato. It’s a truly satisfying breakfast (or main meal) the kids will surely love, except probably the tomato. :) Enjoy! c“,)


  1. thanks Joy ..... yes, it is so simple to prepare and yet heavy on the taste .... :)

  2. Excellent recipe, tried it twice but used annatto powder(achuete) in lieu of the red food coloring and no ketchup.

  3. flipster thanks a lot .... your annatto usage is more natural, simply wonderful, i will try it next time ... :)



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