Filipinos take breakfast seriously. While a lot skip this all important meal, we take the saying "eat like a king to start the day" to heart. It has been a long tradition to have a full spread at breakfast. In the olden days, this was made possible by the dutiful wife and her staff. It was deemed necessary then to eat a heavy meal early in the morning before setting off to work.
Nowadays, the venue for breakfast is the silogan. Silogan is a new slang word coined to refer to eateries serving silog: sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg, served fried) with a choice of tapa, longganisa or tocino. The name of the dish changes accordingly: tapsilog, longsilog or tocilog.
The word tocino means cured slices of pork and directly translates to bacon. Unlike bacon, Filipino tocino is sweet. Traditionally, slices of pork shoulder or butt are cured in salt, sugar and salitre (saltpeter). An off putting beetroot red food colouring is also added.
I used my sister Tess' recipe for tocino. She makes it all natural, without any preserving agents. I used pineapple juice instead of the lemon juice she uses, but she says any acid ingredient will tenderise the meat. I added a tiny bit of sherry to give a hint of pinkness and a ham like flavour.
The flavour of this tocino is the most delicious I have tasted so far. The best part about it is that it develops a sweet glaze at the end of cooking. This recipe is a definite keeper.
Yield: 4 servings
750 gms. 1/2" thick pork shoulder steaks (4-6 pieces)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. sugar
3 tbsps. light soy sauce
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
3/4 c. pure pineapple juice
1-2 tbsps. dry sherry
2 tbsps. cooking oil
1 tsp. of achuete (annato seeds)
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a glass dish. Put the pork steaks in and mix thoroughly, making sure that each piece is coated with the marinade.
Set a sheet of cling film directly on top of the mixture and press out any air. This will ensure that the liquid is always covering the meat.
Leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours, or up to 7 days.
You can cook this after curing or freeze with the marinade in zip-lock bags or plastic boxes. Use within a month.
Take the meat out of the marinade.
Heat up a frying pan and add in 2 tbsps. of cooking oil. Add in the achuete and fry briefly to colour the oil. Skim off the seeds and discard.
Add in the pork slices. Fry on medium heat, covered, until cooked through and tender (20-30 minutes), turning the meat when one side is done. The meat juices will ooze out and provide a cooking liquid for the pork. This will caramelize towards the end and form a glaze. Move the pork pieces occasionally to prevent scorching. You can add a little bit of water to the pan if the glaze becomes too dry and the pork is not yet tender.
Serve with sinangag (garlic fried rice), sliced tomatoes or atsara (papaya pickles) and fried eggs.
To make sinangag (4 servings):
2 tbsps. of cooking oil
1 tbsp. crushed garlic
4 c. of cold cooked rice
2 tbsps. light soy sauce
salt to taste
Separate the rice grains using your fingers. Do not wet them as this will make your fried rice claggy.
Heat up a wok or frying pan.
Add in the oil when hot. Saute the garlic in the oil until golden brown.
Add to the pan. Stir fry until hot, scraping the bottom of the pan well so the rice doesn't stick.
Add in the soy sauce and the salt and fry again for about 3 minutes. The rice should be fragrant, toasty but neither dry nor hard.
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