07 Apr2012

After all those seafood posts, isn’t it about time for some PORK? Heehee. The first of 4 different pork barbecue on a stick versions we cooked over the holidays at the beach, to complement the seafood that is, and before Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, of course. I have toyed with pork barbecue many times before, but always there was something just not right. Too tough, too dry, not flavorful enough, not juicy, lacked that street like hit of I don’t know what. In the same manner that streetside bananaque just seems better than homemade, homemade barbecue typically disappoints, or at least it had, until now.

A few tips that apply across all our recent experiments. First, soak your barbecue sticks for several hours in water AND wrap the exposed areas in foil to prevent burning the sticks. Contrary to many folks suggestions that I use “kasim” or pork shoulder, I insisted on using “pigue” which has less connective tisue and gristle it seems, though has a tendency to dry out. We sliced the pigue about 1/3 inch thick, and intentionally “bunched up” the meat on the stick to help it keep its moisture. I also added some sliced pork belly for those pieces of FAT. I also eschewed the common practice of really long periods of marination, sometimes overnight, as I was worried about the impact on the integrity of the meat. So a couple of hours at most of marination. With thin and small slices of pork, that should have been more than sufficient.

For the purposes of experimentation, no mentioned pork barbecue ingredients except MSG was off limits. I was open to bottled banana ketchup, sprite or 7UP, baking soda to tenderize, etc. My goal was to get a lip-smacking equivalent of the streetside barbecue you purchase from the “best” purveyors, and to learn some other options along the way as well. Party barbecue and party spaghetti would make most gourmands cringe, but they hold a special place in my memory and taste banks… must have just been to too many children’s parties as a kid. :)

For about 800 grams of “pigue,” sliced thinly, mixed with roughly 200 grams of pork belly sliced thinly, I added 10 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped finely, 1/2 cup coconut vinegar, 1/2 cup muscovado or dark brown sugar, lots of freshly ground pepper, 1/3 cup of kikkoman soy sauce, a teaspoon of baking soda, a bit of salt and about 1/2 cup of Sprite. Mix this well and let it marinate for an hour or two before placing on the soaked barbecue skewers. After a couple of hours, I tested one piece of pork, by frying it in a little cast iron pan. It tasted quite good but I added a touch more soy sauce to the marinade. If you are not a frequent cook with a SLAM DUNK recipe for pork barbecue, I strongly recommend this little “taste test” to ensure you have a properly seasoned batch. This would apply to chorizo, tapa, tocino, etc.

While the sticks were soaking and the meat marinating, I concocted my “basting sauce”… I eventually arrived at this mixture of ingredients… about 1/3 cup of the marinade after the pork was skewered, strained through a fine sieve, about a cup of banana ketchup, straight out of a bottle, and in this case a “tamis-anghang” or sweet and spicy variant, several tablespoons of pure lard for flavor and moisture retention and a bit more brown sugar and touch of vinegar and lots of pepper and a bit of salt. Bring this all to a simmer and whisk until it is well mixed and has the consistency of a basting sauce.

We grilled the barbecue sticks over a charcoal flame until it had some slight grill marks and was partially cooked. Then we brushed the sticks liberally with the basting sauce and returned them to the fire. A second bastin basting with the nuclear red orange sauce and the sticks were removed when they were cooked through.

They looked pretty darned good to me and the crew and after a couple of minutes of cooling, we bit into the barbecue. The meat was nicely flavored and the texture was nice to the bite, but just a touch drier drier than I would have liked. It was much juicier than previous attempts, but I think the lower FAT content of the meat was showing at this point. It wasn’t a deadly thing, just gave away the homemade status, as we held back on the fat that makes the street version just so heavenly sinful… :)

I think the lard was a good call, and it added a subtle porkiness that most people would have been unable to pinpoint unless you told them. The banana ketchup succeeded in giving the barbecue that otherwordly artificially colored tinge, that wasn’t as bad as I had previously thought it would be… but it did not look natural. And the meat literally took on some of the dye. Bananas are obviously not red, so to get the ketchup a bright red, there is a LOT of RED DYE in the ingredients list.

The verdict? Maybe an 8.25-8.50/10.00 on the Marketman scale. Not bad for a home effort. And frankly, there must be other potentially evil things that street or commercial vendors must add to their recipes that perhaps I just don’t really want to know about. To make your version sing, just look the other way and add more sugar, salt, ketchup, vinegar, pepper than you think is necessary. More is better, in this case, apparently. A hungry crew and I wiped out this entire platter in a matter of minutes. :)



  1. docfoodie says:

    :) thanks MM..will try these on our future summer trips :)

    Apr 7, 2012 | 5:41 pm


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  3. Kasseopeia says:

    This is the primary reason why we didn’t usually do barbeque at home as a kid and just made inihaw na liempo: so darn hard to get the perfect combo of tasty + juicy.

    As an adult, though, we picked up a couple of tricks from a Manong who sold pork barbeque on a street corner: use tender pieces of pork trimmed from bigger loin hunks (I am guessing this is sold in bulk as “scrap” and is cheaper) + bits of scrap fat OR use kasim and parboil in marinade.

    I never got around to the parboil+grill but Uyab and I did cut liempo thinly and in rectangles. This we strung onto sticks then grilled. Soaked for 6 hours in toyo, Sprite, calamansi, salt+pepper, and UFC banana ketchup. =P

    Apr 7, 2012 | 6:30 pm

  4. Kiko says:

    Masarap din siguro kung meron din star margarine yung basting sauce aside from pork lard. Thanks for the tip Mr. MM :)

    Apr 7, 2012 | 6:37 pm

  5. Clarissa says:

    :) Our helper manages to make this perfectly every time, without measuring anything! We use pork kasim. Then for the marinade, UFC catsup, the regular kind of soy sauce, and calamansi. That’s it! :) Then for the basting, we use the marinade, but cooked, simply to avoid raw meat juice coming into contact with cooked meat :)

    Apr 7, 2012 | 7:14 pm

  6. Footloose says:

    @Kiko, that reminds me of the Star Margarine that also played the stellar role in Marketman’s inasal.

    Based on the sixth (from the top) pic, I’d choose the ones daubed with your basting sauce. A bit of color adds a wholesome appearance to food as long as it does not glow in the dark or any tone close to the livid purple they use here for tocino.

    I watched a returning celebrity chef on a Brazilian channel once who was demonstrating how to make his guava ketchup who when asked by the host how he got the idea recounted that he had a Filipino room mate in NYC who introduced him to banana ketchup. Apparently, this is a field ripe for experimentation and I have myself since tried my hands on tamarind ketchup with Jamaican jerk spices that if I may claim it so myself, wasn’t all that bad.

    Apr 7, 2012 | 7:45 pm

  7. Elodie Amora says:

    I miss Pinoy-style bbq! We had grilled pork a couple of weeks ago here, but my French family didn’t use a basting sauce.

    Apr 7, 2012 | 8:31 pm

  8. betty q. says:

    I use baking soda to tenderizer the meat, but I generally massaged it into the meat together with pounded garlic, salt/pepper first to break down the cell wall for no longer than 20 to 30 minutes However, it should be used sparingly for too much of it would give off that odor and will turn your meat to mush! We eat FRUITS like there is no tom. …so sometimes I use GRATED ASIAN PEARS (Koreans use this to tenderize Kahlbi ribs) in lieu of baking soda. Another one I found by accident is using finely minced (close to being pureed) onions. Back in the late 70’s when my sister used to have a bake shop, I made this marinade with finely chopped Onions (oh….the amount of tears I shed!!!!). We had a barbecue griller in the store. It was just for us and friends of my sister would come and eat them too! Then they started ordering which means more onions to finely chop!!!! I am guessing that onions contain an enzyme….an enzyme closely related to papain perhaps? But I am sold on the onions…not only does it add flavour to the barbecue together with the garlic, it is readily available and no chemicals involved as in using commercial meat tenderizers!

    Hey Footloose, if you don’t like the nuclear purple they use there for tocino, maybe someone will see this comment and try using BEET POWDER (available at health food stores) it is far better than the red dye being used. Beet Powder…adds sweetness as well as the NATURAL reddish hue!…or maybe just juice some beets!

    Apr 8, 2012 | 12:10 am

  9. Sleepless in Seattle says:

    Aaahhh..Pork BBQ,street vendor style…. one of my wish list for you to obsess or to replicate.Thanks!! will try this soon.Will wait for # 2 ^_*

    Apr 8, 2012 | 1:23 am

  10. josephine says:

    I was waiting for the meat! One can only have so much seafood, even if it is lent…
    Recently did something similar on my barbecue on the roof. Pork shoulder plus some belly pieces, cider vinegar, brown sugar, some whole cloves in the marinade, lots of garlic. Plus the ingredient which really made it stand out, a little pimenton de la vera picante from next door Spain ( but I understand from friends you can get this in Manila quite easily) which does 2 things, it really lifts the taste, but you also get the red color without any nasties! OK this is never going to be your ordinary street barbecue, but then again we wouldn’t be having this discussion otherwise.

    Apr 8, 2012 | 6:14 am

  11. evita rasmussen says:

    My husband, a foodie, was always curious as how to keep pinoy bbq moist and tender. He observed that Filipino vendors in street food fairs in Manhattan always put foil on the cold side of the grill. He tried this on our grill and has not turned back ever since. He bastes the bbq on the cold side of the grill where the foil is and since he has been doing this our Pinoy bbq has always been moist and tender.

    Apr 8, 2012 | 6:45 am

  12. mei kwei says:

    will we see this in the zubochon menu soon?

    Apr 8, 2012 | 8:36 am

  13. christina foss says:

    NOW you’re talking! Can’t wait to try this recipe- looks great.
    Any chance the Zubuchon will ever make it to Vancouver, perhaps as a franchise? I regeret it’s probably the closest I’d ever get to taste it…

    Apr 8, 2012 | 11:08 am

  14. lee says:

    Pork post = me comment.

    One of the places to get good pork bbq in Bacolod City is in Libertad Market. There’s this little place with a quaint Mom and Pop (nanay and tatay) name; Ernesto and Flordeliza. The pork bbq is plump, a little sweet, and drenched in achuetint. Namit.

    Apr 8, 2012 | 11:23 am

  15. Ging says:

    How come barbecues nowadays are always a nuclear orange and sweet? :-(
    I remember the days when the meat looked natural and the marinade was salt or sauce and calamansi juice or vinegar. now THAT was good bbq :-)

    Apr 8, 2012 | 1:47 pm

  16. cora says:

    I have to drive almost 30 minutes to get a good Filipino pork barbecue, just like the street food bbq. I noticed that the cook grilled the skewered meat on the grill pan, then dip in their sauce, and grill them again over the coal for few minutes to get that smoky flavor. Fresh bbq is always great and for some reason the flavor changes after a day. Anyway, great Easter post. Yum!

    Apr 8, 2012 | 3:08 pm

  17. ami says:

    Pork bbq was my suggestion a couple of posts back when you asked us what filipino food you should obsess about next. Thanks for the recipe.

    Apr 8, 2012 | 4:33 pm

  18. PITS, MANILA says:

    Saraaap! Never fails to make make hungry. Just the scent of these grilling makes one’s appetite escalate. I prefer more “toasted taba” in mine, a generous siding of atcharang papaya, pinakurat for dipping sauce, and steamed/fried rice, please! or even chopped tomatoes with salted eggs and siling-labuyo … :)

    Apr 9, 2012 | 10:50 am

  19. evita rasmussen says:

    We tried using banana ketchup in the basting sauce this past weekend. What a difference. My husband said he would begin adding it to his basting sauce. The pork lard sounds good, too. Next time. I always follow your blogs, Marketman!

    Apr 9, 2012 | 8:32 pm

  20. ted says:

    MM, Pineapple juice is a great meat tenderizer. So instead of using Sprite in your marinade, substitute it with pineapple juice. Your marinade recipe is almost like mine except, i don’t use baking soda and Sprite. I also use boneless spare ribs for my meat, that i get from costco.

    Your basting sauce is interesting, i would try to add banana ketchup with my reserved marinade. Thanks.

    Apr 10, 2012 | 6:02 am

  21. sophie says:

    thanks BETTY Q for the tip of using Beet powder or the juice…. MM’s recipe of TOCINO became a staple in my house.. now i can experiment it with Beet.

    Apr 10, 2012 | 9:54 pm

  22. betty q. says:

    Sophie: We all eat with our eyes….visual appeal! So, I have made tocino as well using atsuete powder…add it to warm oil to release the color but not too much of atsuete oil or your tocino will turn muclear orange! Have you tried barbecuing tocino first? It is a must try! …but because of the high sugar content, it will burn faster on the grill. So, I only grill them to get the grill marks (they will still be uncooked) then finish them in the oven. You get the smokey taste of hamonado tocino….very, very good!

    Apr 11, 2012 | 4:09 am

  23. Betchay says:

    Want to make it a 10/10? It has to be cooked outside in dusty streets! ha!ha!ha! Joke!

    Apr 13, 2012 | 9:00 am

  24. malyn says:

    We were also one of those eternally searching for the ultimate “secret” to getting that “kanto-style” BBQ taste.

    After some experiments and disasters ;) we have now pretty much settled to using this: kasim for the meat (as advised by out friendly, neighborhood BBQ vendor), for marinade: Tomato Ketchup ( a good way to use up all those fastfood ketchup sachets we save), soy sauce, garlic (minced), suka, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Sometimes I add a touch of Worcestershire sauce though I know the vendors would not go through the bother of that additional expense, but you may try if it suits your taste. I cook the marinade and cool it before adding to sliced meat. I also make a big batch and store it so we have ready-made sauce for liempo or porkchops.

    For the basting sauce, I use the marinade with oil added to keep the BBQ moist. If you have some kecap manis,you may also add this to your marinade as it adds a deeper “soy” flavor. I have also tried banana ketchup and oil for basting as i see this done by the vendors but I prefer the marinade for basting.

    Try it and adjust according to your preferences. :) Hope this helps someone.

    Dec 26, 2012 | 10:05 am


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