Inihaw Na Liempo

(Filipino Grilled Pork Belly)

October: National Pork Month

A Filipino fiesta is incomplete without pork: lechon, pata, adobo, sinigang and inihaw! So October is an even more popular month for Filipinos as it is National Pork Month. Whenever we go over to Islander’s relatives’ homes, there is always a Pinoy pork dish of some sort. If there is a family gathering outdoors, and there is grilling going on, then everyone gets to feast on meat sticks and pork belly (this makes sense as both recipes use similar ingredients of mafran/banana sauce and calamansi juice for the marinade). One of Islander’s favorites is inihaw na liempo. The marbled meat looks charred but is still moist and tasty. Grilled pork belly is simply served with hot steamed rice and a vinegary dipping sauce to sop up the flavorful fat. Because it is so rich, inihaw is a rare indulgence now for us. But when we eat it, it is a special treat at those family gatherings and during National Pork Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from Ang Sarap!)

Ingredients

  • 2-2 ½ pounds pork belly
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup calamansi juice (or lemon juice)
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup banana sauce/ketchup (or tomato ketchup)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil

Directions

In a medium bowl, make the marinade by combining the soy sauce, calamansi or lemon juice, garlic and brown sugar.

Season with black pepper. Place pork belly in a zipper top plastic bag and pour the marinade in the bag. Seal well and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the pork belly to a plate and pour the marinade in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for a minute to kill off any pork bacteria. Let cool in another bowl and mix in banana sauce and oil.

Preheat the outdoor grill. Cook the pork belly for about 10 minutes on one side, basting with marinade frequently. Turn over on the other side and continue to baste until cooked through (do not overcook or the pork will be tough). Put pork belly on a plate or pan and let rest for about five minutes. Slice into bite-sized pieces. Serve with vinegar dipping sauce.

Bonus Recipe:

Sawsawan (Vinegar Dipping Sauce)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vinegar (we use a combination of ¾ cup cane sugar vinegar and ¼ cup mirin/sweet rice vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (may omit if using sweet rice vinegar)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 dried chili peppers or ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes

Directions

In a mixing bowl, stir together the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, onions and peppers. Store remaining sauce in a jar, refilling with a little vinegar if needed. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Notes

  • If mafran/banana sauce/banana ketchup is unavailable, substitute with tomato ketchup. If calamansi juice is unavailable, substitute with lemon juice.
  • Search our blog for more Filipino and pork recipes.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Sweet and Sour Pork

October: National Pork Month

Chinese take-out is a fast and easy meal option when life gets too busy and hectic for us to cook at home. Sometimes, we are disappointed in the sweet and sour pork we usually order because 1) there seems to be more coating covering less meat, 2) the sauce is a super-saturated and unnaturally fluorescent red color and 3) the vegetables tend to have lost their crispness and fresh flavors. Homemade sweet and sour pork is tastier yet a tad time-consuming. But it is worth the effort when “going gourmet instead of take-away.” Try cooking this classic Chinese recipe when time allows and when observing National Pork Month.

Recipe

(Adapted from “Taste of Hawaii” by The Honolulu Advertiser)

For the marinade

  • ½ pound pork shoulder or butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sherry
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 egg
  • dash pepper

Directions

Cut the pork into 1-inch cubes. Make the marinade by combining in a large bowl the sugar, sesame oil, salt, sherry, oyster sauce, soy sauce, egg and pepper. Soak the pork for at least an hour. Reserve the marinade to mix with the batter.

Sweet and Sour Pork

For the batter

  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions

Remove the pork from the marinade. In the marinade bowl, add the egg, cornstarch and water. Mix well and return the pork to the marinade. Deep fry in hot oil until the pork pieces are cooked through and the batter becomes golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.

Sweet and Sour Pork

For the sweet and sour sauce

(Adapted from Chinese Cooking by Drake Publishers Inc.)

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup vinegar (we use cane sugar vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sherry
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons constarch
  • ½ cup water or pineapple juice, drained from the can
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of pineapple chunks, drained (reserved)

Directions

Prepare the vegetables. Set aside with the drained pineapple chunks. Bring to a boil over the stove top the sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sherry and ketchup. Reduce the heat to simmer. In a cup, mix the cornstarch with the water or pineapple juice to make a smooth paste. Stir into the sauce until thickened. Remove from heat.

Sweet and Sour Pork

In a separate skillet, heat the oil. Saute the garlic, then gently mix in the bell peppers onions, tomatoes and pineapple for 3-4 minutes. Do not overcook to retain the freshness of the vegetables. Discard the garlic. Add the vegetable and pineapples to the sauce until everything is well coated. Arrange the fried pork pieces on a platter. Pour the sauce mixture over them. Serve hot with steamed white rice or noodles.

Sweet and Sour Pork

Notes

  • Thanks to Sister Durie K. for giving us her “antique” cookbooks, “Taste of Hawaii” (1985), compiled by Mary Cooke, former food editor at The Honolulu Advertiser, and “Chinese Cooking” (1973), published by Drake Publishers Inc.
  • Plan ahead for each step in this recipe. Marinate the pork early in the cooking process. The sauce can be made beforehand and reheated before adding the fresh vegetables and pineapples to save time.