19 Aug2008


Stunningly well marbled, with an incredible proportion of flavorful fat, Kurobuta is the porcine equivalent of Kobe Beef. Kurobuta literally translated as a “black pig,” is actually the Berkshire breed from England that was given as a diplomatic present to the leaders of Japan several hundred years ago. Trust the Japanese to take a fabulous breed and somehow make it better… This is a pork lover’s finest fantasy. And the same folks (Alternatives Food Corporation) from whom I purchased the “Wangus” or Wagyu and Black Angus steaks conveniently carry the Snake River Brand of Kurobuta pork. When I perused their product offerings, I zeroed in on the pig’s cheek, probably due to a longstanding love affair with guanciale, a special Italian bacon made from fat pig’s cheeks, my earlier post and musings on pigs, here. Buccatini alla Matriciana or Spaghetti or Fettucine a la Carbonara is BRILLIANT when you make it using guanciale; in fact, you would find it difficult to go back to other “lesser” versions of these dishes once spoiled…


So I bought several packages of kurobuta pig’s jowls, thinking I was going to make my own guanciale, see Mario Batali’s easy steps to homemade guanciale, here. But I lacked one absolutely essential “ingredient” — a 50-60 degree F environment with naturally circulating air in which to dry out the pig’s jowls over several weeks. Impossible in Manila during the rainy season. I needed a cave in a Tuscan hillside… So I gave up on the guanciale experiment and decided I needed to cook the pig’s jowls but there weren’t many recipes on-line for these striated and fatty wonders. So hours before the blogger’s dinner, I decided to go back to basics, and sliced up several jowls and marinated the slices in soy sauce, a bit or mirin or japanese rice wine, some cracked black pepper and a touch of brown sugar…


Later, we strung the kurobuta pork pieces on barbecue sticks and grilled them on a charcoal fire and VOILA! the most outrageously delicious pinoy pork barbecue EVER! Who would have thought? This was really quite delicious, and not THAT fatty. Sometimes pork barbecue these days is actually hard and tastes like cardboard. These were soft, juicy and incredibly flavorful. They had a few charred bits, but for the most part, succulent was the best way to describe them. I served two sticks per person over a bowl filled with a simple fennel and orange salad, to cut the richness of the pork, and I have to say this was possibly my favorite course of the evening. I still want to experiment braising the pig’s jowls, and if you had any bright ideas how I might cook them otherwise, please leave me a comment. This was definitely the ingredient find of the year… look out for it on restaurant menus… Kurobuta pig’s jowls are SUPERB! We ended dinner with a rich chocolate cake and as I said in the first post on this series, the wines that Socky brought were wonderful as well!

And the ultimate compliment for the cook that evening? We made roughly 20 sticks of kurobuta barbecue for the crew and waiters’ dinner and when I peeked into the kitchen later in the evening to see how they were doing, Eric, our suki waiter (who had been assaulted and robbed just the day before, but insisted on coming anyway to make sure the plating was done right and the lone waiter in the dining room was well-supported from behind the scenes), said it was the best darned barbecue he had ever tasted! Twenty sticks wiped out. Terrific dinner all around.



  1. Miguel says:

    Wow that really looks delicious..and perfectly cooked too….not so burned like other barbeques :)

    Aug 19, 2008 | 9:13 pm


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  3. Tricia says:

    Wow, this pork bbq looks so yummy! I love pork bbq with some fat!

    How do I make the fennel & orange salad?

    Aug 19, 2008 | 9:24 pm

  4. kitkathie says:

    It’s making my stomach grumble again…sniff sniff… I can imagine biting into the juicy, moist kurobuta..plus the other courses being served… Go, go, go MM!!!

    Aug 19, 2008 | 10:36 pm

  5. joey says:

    The foie and this are fighting for my favorite spot! I was floored when I heard you would be serving Kurubota…and when I found out it was cheeks!!! Let’s just saw it is pork-lovers nirvana! I was beside myself with excitement and it certainly lived up to its famous name :)

    I had a dish in Spain of braised pig’s cheeks with a Pedro Ximenez reduction sauce…it was amazing!

    Aug 19, 2008 | 10:45 pm

  6. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    The marbling is AWESOME!!! I would love to sink my teeth in them. I prefer my pork bbq cubed rather than in thin slices however. MM, did the marbling make the meat melt in your mouth?

    Aug 19, 2008 | 11:06 pm

  7. estella says:

    i felt like i was invited to your wonderful dinner after seeing the sumptuous appetizers and entrees that you enjoyed with your guests. what a great party!!!

    Aug 19, 2008 | 11:22 pm

  8. natie says:

    no-fat pork bbq…..you might as well eat tapa..that’s a lovely cut of pork!!

    Aug 19, 2008 | 11:43 pm

  9. estella says:

    that marbled meat sure looks like the kobe beef.

    Aug 20, 2008 | 12:01 am

  10. estella says:

    that sure looks like kobe beef!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 12:20 am

  11. Candygirl says:

    Yum yum as always :-)

    Aug 20, 2008 | 12:21 am

  12. estella says:

    that meat sure looks like kobe beef!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 12:21 am

  13. meng says:

    wish i was one of the crew or waiters just to have a taste of the yummy food. huhuhu…

    Aug 20, 2008 | 12:48 am

  14. Marvin says:

    I’ve had guanciale on a few different occasions (all of them, coincidentally at a Batali restaurant), but I’ve never seen pig jowls in their fresh form before.

    I’ve also been looking online for fresh jowls and pig ears that I can use in a Sisig experiment, and this post has pushed me over the edge to actually place my order. Thanks MM!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 2:06 am

  15. Apicio says:

    Oftentimes when dealing with superior principal ingredients, doing as little as possible to them as you did with the tuna, foie gras, wangus and kurobuta yields the most satisfying results. So it seems that just as in life itself, Hippocrates’ admonition to physicians, above all do no harm is a great tack to follow. Ah but the rub is you have to be a skilled cook to make these calls.

    I came across a blog entry of this crazed cook who took it upon herself to do all the recipes in Keller’s cookbook The French Laundry who went to great lengths (and expense) to follow all the anal retentive procedures Keller is noted for and indicated for a lobster consommé en gelée and came up with a totally revolting culinary fiasco. I mean how can one go wrong with a dozen lobsters. I thought you simply boil them and dunk them in sauce mignonette if melted butter is too rich for your blood.

    Aug 20, 2008 | 2:24 am

  16. estella says:

    your pork barbecue really looks good!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 3:54 am

  17. lucadong says:

    two years ago i made a home-cured pancetta; had to choose between “charcuterie” by Ruhlman & Polcyn recipe and “Chez Panisse Cafe Cookbook” by Alice Waters’ recipe. i followed Waters’ recipe mainly because the entire 55 days was done inside the refrigerator. the outcome was very satisfactory, but i did not repeat it since we only have one refrigerator and it really gets in the way for almost 2 months:)… i just thought this might lead to a similar nethod for guanciale…i have a very good feeling these two books are among the 200+ in your library. i will definitely follow your recipe here for the jowl barbecue. thanks.

    Aug 20, 2008 | 6:07 am

  18. linda says:

    Happy Birthday,MM!

    You have made so many people happy by sharing your time,knowledge,hard earned $$$,your kind heart, and so much more and for these you deserve all the blessings and all the wonderful things life can bring.

    A big hug from downunder!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 6:19 am

  19. Beth says:

    Happy Birthday MM!May you have many more!!!!!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 7:13 am

  20. betty q. says:

    MALIGAYANG BATI, MM, SA INYONG KAARAWAN!!!! ….If and when you decide to hold your EYEBALL, I have a request….YOU HAVE TO ASK APICIO (I hope he attends your Cebu eyeball) TO PLAY THE GUITAR!!!! My gut instinct says he is one guitar virtuoso!!!!

    My dear friend…MUCHAS GRACIAS!!!!….got it today ….I can just picture you under that big Acacia tree in Bohol serenading MM….hahaha….can’t thank you enough!!!!!!!!!!!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 7:53 am

  21. rocoi says:

    happy birthday, MM! what’s for dinner tonight?? :)

    Aug 20, 2008 | 8:19 am

  22. estella says:

    happy birthday, mm!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 8:38 am

  23. gia mayol says:

    malipayong adlaw, marketman!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 8:40 am

  24. natie says:

    WOW!!!! have a delicious birthday, MM!!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 8:52 am

  25. AleXena says:

    Now I can react=) I dont eat beef so I am much excited to see this part of pork glistening in all its fat glory=)

    Happy bday Market Man!!!=) Many more wonderful dishes and recipes to post on your food blog!~:)~

    Aug 20, 2008 | 8:59 am

  26. portugalbear says:

    happy birthday MM !!!Looking forward to what you’re having for your birthday

    Aug 20, 2008 | 9:49 am

  27. RoBStaR says:

    for those in the u.s.a, the company website is :
    chk them prices… ouch. but am intrigued.

    Aug 20, 2008 | 10:04 am

  28. shalimar says:

    snake river farms.. thats the meat we have here at the boat. Yummy yummy wagyu beef..

    Aug 20, 2008 | 12:15 pm

  29. mona says:

    Happy Birthday, MM!
    Here’s to more delicious experiments posted on your blog. Thanks a bundle for making my lunch hour doubly appetizing!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 12:52 pm

  30. sometime_lurker says:

    HBD, MM!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 1:37 pm

  31. Katrina says:

    I remember Joey saying again and again, in awe and an almost reverent voice, “The fat is IN the pork!!!” I don’t think anyone could have made our pork-adoring friend any happier tht night. Staring at the second picture above, I myself am amazed at the marbling on that piece of meat! I won’t attempt to come up with a better word to describe it, as you already have: it was truly succulent.

    Aug 20, 2008 | 2:10 pm

  32. Mandy says:

    oh my, i can really imagine how juicy the barbecue was judging from the looks of the sliced uncooked pork. i know i will never, ever become a vegetarian!

    stupid question: does alternative foods sell retail? i know they have some items in the grocery i go to and it’s not thorough; their product list is to die for!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 10:43 pm

  33. cumin says:

    Happy birthday, MM! My wish is that you will continue to be showered with blessings — but today’s storm turned out to be a deluge!

    Aug 20, 2008 | 10:45 pm

  34. ragamuffin girl says:

    Happy Bday MM!

    Lots of Thai restos here use what they call pork neck- grilled and served with a tamarind dip. It’s yummy but at home we just marinate pork neck (which is probably pork cheek, right? Correct me if I’m wrong) in soy sauce, calamansi, garlic, salt and pepper then grill. we then slice it thinly and serve with the usual Pinoy crispy pata dip.

    Your bbq is making me hungry. And homesick.

    Aug 21, 2008 | 9:54 am

  35. alicia says:

    I think I want to start a blog so I can be invited to one of these dinners! Bravo! Everything down to the meal in the kitchen looked delicious. Am curiuos to see what other plans you have for the pork jowls and any other cuts of the kurobuta you may have bought.

    Aug 21, 2008 | 7:33 pm

  36. jattremua says:

    kurobota is like kobebeef in texture not mushy very juicy and with nutty chewable texture when preparded semi well done paired it with hoisin sauce umm very subtle to the palate and goes well with red wine..

    Sep 3, 2008 | 6:34 pm

  37. caryn says:

    heehee. a friend and i had a hilarious boo-boo when we first had kurobuta at a stall during a japanese festival. we were so excited to see the sign that we rushed up and asked for 2 sticks, we were flummoxed when handed meat that looked normal. we said “kurokunai yo” (it isn’t black) the vendor chuckled at that and explained that it was the skin that was black, not the insides. we left feeling enlightened, eyt embarrased for having made such a stupid mistake. hehehe.

    Oct 9, 2008 | 3:56 pm

  38. sinbad says:

    I had my first try of the Kurobuta sausages and it was so delish!!! I always wanted my sausages grilled then made caramelized onions with caraway seeds on the side…It was splendid! Thanks to jimmy who introduced this lovely Kurizo!!!

    Mar 31, 2009 | 10:47 pm


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