On My Kitchen Table: Filipino Pork Barbecue

Whenever I tell someone that I am part Filipino, conversation inevitably turns to food as a way of relating to my ethnic background. The main dishes that comes up are chicken adobo (my childhood comfort food), balut, aka duck embryo (my childhood nightmare), and of course, Filipino barbecue. Anyone who has had good fortune to be friends with Filipinos and to be invited to one the big Filipino gatherings that always revolve around food, has tried this wonderfully delicious skewered creation.

After many attempts and combining different recipes I have found online, I finally got it to the taste that I remember from my childhood. I’m pretty sure I danced around in jubilation when my taste buds were transported to the many barbecues of my childhood. We also always had American fare as well- hotdogs and hamburgers, potato salad, but there was always, always a platter of pork skewers and there was never ever, hardly ever any leftovers.

Filipino bbq

Filipino Pork Barbecue

3 – 4 lb pork- shoulder, butt, belly or country-style ribs

*a note about the pork*
Different recipes I have found list one of the four of those different cuts of pork listed above and I’ve tried them all and they are all good. Pick one and go for it. Just trim off the excess fat and then slice into thin slices that are about 1- 1 1/2 inches wide x 2 inches long.

2 lemon- juiced
3/4 c ketchup
3/4 c soysauce
1 tbs minced garlic
1 7 oz can sprite
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 c onion minced

Combine these ingredients in a large container.

*a note about the marinade*
Some recipes say to reserve 1/2 cup of this marinade before adding the pork to use as the basting marinade while you grill the pork. I always seem to forget to do this. Every. Time. I have read that you can just baste with the marinade that the pork sat in…but I have a deep phobia of poisoning my loved ones, so I take about a cup of the marinade and put it in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil, then simmer it for 10-15 minutes. I then feel safe to use it for basting the meat. I have no idea…make your best judgement call here. I need to work on remembering to just separate out the marinade before adding the pork.

Toss the sliced pork into the marinade. Cover the container and refrigerate overnight or for at least a few hours. If you separated the basting marinade, cover and refrigerate that too. The next day, pull out wooden skewers and place the sticks in a long casserole dish filled with water. Let the skewers soak in the water for a few hours. Doing this helps the wood sticks from catching on fire in the grill. It still happens, but it’s a slower burn.

Thread the thin pork slices onto the skewers- generally 3 pieces fit on one skewer. While you’re threading the skewers heat the grill to medium-high heat. While grilling, be sure to baste the pork with the marinade with a basting brush every few minutes and turning the pork so that it cooks evenly.

Serve with steamed white rice. For some reason I love to eat this with sliced up garden tomatoes with just a sprinkling of salt.

I wouldn’t say this is an authentic Filipino barbecue recipe, but it tastes like my childhood. My kids love it too. Being first generation American, half Filipino and half Central American, I barely have a grasp on my Filipino heritage, so my kids are getting crumbs. But I am making sure that they are delicious crumbs! That, and they know how to say “fart” and “smelly armpits” in Tagalog. I know, I’m shaking my head too.

Next up to master- lumpia! yum yum yum yum. I made these only once with the help of my non-filipina mom. It took us all day. But it was worth it.

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