Fat + Fire = Fantastic!


Grilled liempo or pork belly has to be one of life’s simplest and finest food pleasures. We have this at home at least once a month. And last weekend at the beach, the “non-food focused weekend,” this was lunch one day, served with an eggplant salad. I have done posts on grilled liempo before, but I find that it satisfies every single time we have it… It’s a bid gross to think this, but now that I am much fatter than in my twenties, I suspect I would taste a lot better if I was thrown on a grill after a few hours marinating in good soy sauce, kalamansi and pepper… :)


Part of the magic that transforms the fatty belly into barbecued nirvana lies in the sizzling fat just oozing over the layers of meat. And it must have carcinogenic burnt bits to be really delicious. This takes just a few minutes to grill and I usually serve this with some homemade acharra or a vinegar dressed salad on the side. Hmmm, I just had an idea, I wonder what grilled lechon might taste like?!? Yum or Ho-hum?



48 Responses

  1. love this one! i can always eat grilled liempo anytime. i like to dip it, too, in vinegar, soy sauce, chopped red onions, diced garlic , black pepper and lots of siling labuyo…

  2. I have a feeling you’re going to figure out the answer to the grilled lechon question yourself! ;-)

    Grilled liempo is absolutely one of the simplest food pleasures back home. I remember finishing a platter (and polishing off the fatty bits, too!) with a cold SanMig while stretched out on a fishing boat off Puerto Galera. It couldn’t get better than that!

  3. Hey Marketman,

    Careful, this isone of those “killing Me Softly Dish”. Why is it that all the food that taste so good are the ones that are bad for our health or it comes with a bad side effect? Hmmm.

  4. a few days before the annual trip home, my sis would call to ask what she should cook–i always just request for grilled liempo. simple but delicious!! if she can make bamboo shoots with gata and alimasag, she’s earned all her pasalubongs…nothing like pinoy pork. those pictures make me homesick.

    by the way, MM, i made the XO sauce last tuesday. it turned out SO GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!! got the ingredients last weekend from chinatown. THANKS to you and betty q!!!oh, but the rice-intake!! :-O

  5. I find that grilling pork in coal tastes much better than simply grilling it in the oven. And the fat…. i think it has to be fatty. You don’t necessarily have to eat the fat…

  6. You know what the top picture really brings into my head? That tune that goes something like… “when your pork’s on fire you must realize smoke gets in your eyes.”

  7. One of my all time favorites, eaten with suka’t bawang and lots of steamed rice. My folks normally marinate the liempo for a few hours in vinegar, garlic and cracked black pepper before throwing the meat on the grill. Sometimes they pre-cook the liempo in the oven for more tender meat, then onto the grill for that great smoky flavor.

  8. Fantastic it is! I esp love that second photo. Mouthwatering! Paired with your homemade acharra and eating this at the beach, oh man, what a life!

  9. This ones a staple at our house every Sunday lunch as it is family day. We always pair it with Tahong or Halaan soup with lots of chili leaves and ginger in the broth or vegetables such as chopsuey. Our marinade ranges from the plain salt and pepper to the catsup-infused one with lots of brown sugar and garlic.

    I tried a dry rub of salt, pepper and sugar with dried oreganos a few times and I must say it’s very satisfying as well. The oregano gives a bit of freshness to it.

    Coupled with a toyo/kalamansi/vinegar/sugar/red onion/chilies dip plus steamed white rice…. AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!=) You should add COKE or SPRITE as a drink of choice.

    Good day MarketMan!=)

  10. Grilled liempo is a family favorite, too. This is our lazy Sunday breakfast fare. Just rub some salt and grill. The sawsawan is soy sauce, vinegar, onion, tomatoes and sili. Sarap talaga!

  11. Grilled lechon was a favorite pulutan back when I was a rum guzzling tambay neighbor of a butcher. When the butcher celebrates birthday and such his slaves would sneak out platters of cold lechon to our tambayan. We usually grill the white boring meat portions from the lechon’s back (for the lack of an accurate meat cut term.) NAMIT!!!

    Here’s my fat + fire picture taken during lunch Monday at Patag, Silay City.

  12. Apicio:

    “when your pork’s on fire you must realize smoke gets in your eyes.”
    ….Now laughing friends deride, Tears I cannot hide, hide
    So I smile and say, when a lovely flame dies,

    Pork gets in your thighs.”

  13. Nothing like it on earth! I just came from North Carolina where their version of barbecue left me hankering of our simple pinoy marinade of toyo and calamansi. It just takes so much rice to go down with!

  14. It seems like everyone has his/her own liempo memories haha. Mine would undoubtedly be the inihaw na liempo at Manang’s in Ateneo. So simple yet so good!

  15. This post brought back memories of pork belly in Cebu. There are a lot of ihaw-ihaws in Cebu where one chooses a marinated pork belly from a bin and have it grilled. We get to pick the slice that matches our preferred fat to meat ratio :) Served on a bamboo plate lined with a banana leaf and a steaming cup or rice or a couple of puso to accompany it. Washed down our throats by beers if we consume this for dinner, ice-cold Coke if we’ve sneaked out of the office for an extended lunch. And don’t forget the sawsawan. Life’s simple pleasures, indeed.

  16. This is truly one of life’s simple yet sublime pleasures!

    Carlo! Manang’s rocks!!! Omg, the memories! :) How many cups of rice could you finish? ;) Ok, I’ll be think if this all day now…

  17. One of my favorites as well. I remember there’s a a cluster of roadside restaurants in a small town in Isabela that serves one of the best inihaw na liempo. Not charred at all but definitely smoky and, well, a little sooty. That doesn’t sound too good, and it may well have a good dose of carcinogens in it but it tastes great with suka, chopped shallots, cracked pepper and smashed garlic cloves. And they serve it at room temp too, with cold rice. Hmm, this may be a case of the memory tasting better than the actual food. We’d usually have it on road trips to/from Cagayan. Road trips are always great because it’s the only time your normal standards on food, both in taste and cleanliness, gets thrown out of the window- eating becomes an adventure.

  18. carlo and joey: ooh, manang’s! yum! the dining area has improved somehow, but the inihaw and pork chop are still great. mmm!

  19. Back in college, we would go to a hole in the wall on the corner of Katipunan and Aurora Blvd. They would have these and we would all sit down for lunch, rubbing elbows with the Jeepney drivers who would frequent the place. It was great with a spiced vinegar which was served on the makeshift table. The spiced vinegar was essentially coconut vinegar with cracked peppercorns and lots of bruised and while red and green chilis (sili).

  20. Back in college, we would go to a hole in the wall on the corner of Katipunan and Aurora Blvd. They would have these and we would all sit down for lunch, rubbing elbows with the Jeepney drivers who would frequent the place. It was great with a spiced vinegar which was served on the makeshift table. The spiced vinegar was essentially coconut vinegar with cracked peppercorns and lots of bruised and whole red and green chilis (sili).

  21. Food serendipity strikes again, I just put a marinated portion of liempo in my turbo, and expect to dig into a comfy and tasty dinner of liempo with rice and a side dish of pickled cauliflower. My house is starting to smell of garlic and soy sauce, my salivary glands are in overdrive!

  22. Burn baby burn! You should serve it with some tzatziki and be a real Greek. I can smell the fat burning and drooling all over the keyboard. Yikes.

  23. Wow, this is a new post, and yet so many people already blogged. Just proved how good this dish is. I am going back for my annual trip in Pinas next summer, and this grilled liempo will sure be one of my sought after Pinoy food. Sawsaw sa suka with native garlic and onions, wow, and with grilled eggplant too, Ayos!

  24. Oww,I just remember, ganon nga ang ginagawa ng mga pinsan ko sa natirang lechon, especially the fatty part, they will grilled it, brushing sweet & sour suka, with lots of pounded garlic. Then served in a bamboo table, lined with banana leaves – naku lahat naka-kamay. Served with blanched kangkong or inadobong okra. And malamig na tubig, in a bottle-glass.

  25. this is sooo late, and so unrelated to this post, but better late than never, and ive been a fan and a commenter for so long so i imagine i have the right to post an unrelated comment, hahaha ;-)


    belated happy birthday MM! thanks for all the fabulous blog posts, and for keeping the love for pinoy food burning in all our hearts :-)

    (big hug!)

  26. Hey Estella: Most often, the simplest things are best left alone…Now, I always am guilty of cooking like I’m cooking for an army…anyone with 2 teen-age boys who are growing faster than my weeds in the garden + the hubby can relate to this!…So when I make this grilled liempo, I make MORE THAN ENOUGH so we have leftovers…and this is what I do with the leftovers…cut them up to bite size pieces…a bit smaller than MM’s picture (cut up grilled liempo)…then I grill slices of Japanese eggplant (brush them with the Ginger-Sesame Dressing I posted a while back). …then I cook Japanese rice with seasoned chicken stock instead of water…next…Do you have Nori wrapper: it comes preseasoned or plain ones…preseasoned ones you can buy in korean stores as well but it can expensive. So you can make your own: buy the ordinary Nori (seaweed wrapper) then ever so lightly brush both sides with sesame oil and sprinkle ever so lightly with kosher salt or sea salt. Grill or barbecue for 5 SECONDS only per side or until edges start ot curl. Remove from fire …cut each piece into small serving pieces. Make A lot of these…if you have growing boys like I do, you will end up with nothing!!! Now comes assembly: ahead of time, do this…with a tiny ice cream scooper, scoop the rice and arrange them on serving platters…same with the grilled eggplant (cut to bite size pieces) , and same goes for the grilled liempo. …You can have your friends make their own or arrange it like this, …take one wrapper place a scoop of rice in middle, make a well in the center of the rice ball….place a bit of eggplant and top it with the grilled liempo… Arrange them on the platter like TACOS. I prefer my friends do their own for I cannot make them fast enough. As soon as one platter goes out to the table…it’s as if the boys INHALED THEM!!!!

  27. 128 am florida time my saliva all over… cant find this cut here at Publix… I have been told at the Latino store. 2 more weeks am back in Greece. Oh yes Jo is right I eat this with tzatsiki what a combo….

  28. betty q.’s post reminded me of what i did when my korean friend game lots of seasoned nori. I put rice, chicken and kimchi in it then ate it in a bite. The grilled eggplant sounds really yummy.

  29. bettyq, that is really great. Since bloggers are starting to know your expertise into “exotic” cooking, I would like to ask you or any of the blogger here (since you mentioned nori wrapper), if you know or have used banna-tapioca wrapper. I have seen them today in a vietnamese restaurant (when I was looking for pig jowl – no success), and they have this wrapper. It looks like the rice paper (wrapper), and I asked the teller how to use it and she does not have any idea. The writings in the package did not suggest any type of dish to use it for. I wonder if its used for making a different kind of turon or crepe..Please advise.

  30. Hey Ebba…Yes, I have seen those wrappers you are referring to , but I haven’t used it…I have to exercise control in buying any more things that I keep telling myself that I am going to use them one day!…However, what you have seen..the banana ones…looks like thinly sliced bananas over a thin layer of rice sheet? …I would imagine that it probably is used as some sort of a sweet snack…I think it will crisp up when fried much like banana chips and you tear pieces of it and eat them or it can be used as some sort of receptacle…like after frying, cut them while warm before it crisp up and use it to hold sweet rice with coconut and sesame seeds or crushed peanuts …or better yet make something like puto maya (?)…BUT here’s what I would do…I will fry them to a crisp and then put it in a cup till it’s crispy, then make banana ice cream (buy the best store bought ice cream you can find and add mashed bananas)…serve the ice cream in the “banana basket”….another one…make banana cake..cut them into slices and arrange them on your plate….serve this with vanilla or caramel ice cream and tear the “banana cracker” into odd shapes and use that to accompany the dessert drizzled with caramel sauce.

    I hope this helps, Ebba!

  31. By the way, Ebba…I am NO EXPERT compared to the people I know, I am the LOWEST ON THE TOTEM POLE!!! I have had my share of DISASTERS…while trying to perfect this Indian Candy (smoked salmon strips), you can just imagine the amount of salmon I went through…

  32. hey mm, what’s the recipe for this delicious inihaw na belly. I hope this is cebuano style. p.s. sinugbang lechon is reallllllllly goooood based from my experience (esp if you grill the tambok part of the belly where the lamas used to be)

  33. Great with mushroom sauce!!
    tip: if your cooking in batches, keep the cooked meat in a pot with lid if possible, this way, meat will still continue cooking inside the pot, makes it even tender, and it will keep it warm, away from langaw pa hehe

  34. Oh… nice… my sister and I are planning a grilling session next week… ^___^

    liempo is great… we’ll try this…

  35. one of the best pork liempo marinades i’ve tried did not have vinegar. it’s just made of soy sauce, black pepper, and pounded ginger & spring onions. very simple but also very tasty. where’s the best place for simple inihaw (pork, chicken, fish)? i don’t mean the sweet bbq kind, i mean the one’s with just soy sauce or salt & pepper.



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