It’s 8 in the evening, and here I am, thinking about what I ate for lunch. And I’m hungry. I’m not sure if this is entirely psychological or somatic, or a little bit of both, but yeah, I can say that my tummy’s rumbling. It’s all in my head. It’s all in my head….
Let me make a confession: while I was on my retreat, I caught myself thinking about what I’m going to eat when I’m done with the silence. Don’t get me wrong, the Jesuits served filling, really really great meals, but I was craving. The craving for salty-sour grilled pork was so bad.
When we were in Dipolog-Dapitan a week ago, prior to my retreat, we went to their boulevard for dinner, and there, we were greeted by a proverbial barbecue mecca. There were rows and rows, stall upon stall of skewered anything – pork, chicken, chorizo, innards, even tocino! All you had to do was point or pick the meat, and they’ll grill it. I’ll devote a post to that, but as a prelude – I have been imprinted with this lingering obsession with barbecue. Hence, this post.
Sweet or sour? That question profoundly affected me. For real. Would I ‘try’ to recreate the sweet smoky my taste buds were treated to when I was on vacation? Or would a more rough and tumble salty-sour taste pique my cravings even more? After careful deliberation – the taste of sweet grilled pork would have to wait. Salty-sour ruled the day.
I’d have to say grilling pork marinated in salt, pepper and vinegar is easier to manage. Because there’s not much sugar in it, it doesn’t burn as fast as when you grill pork with a soy sauce, ketchup and sugar marinade. But if you’re like me, I like a hint of sweetness, so a tablespoon or two of brown sugar does the trick.
Memories associated with the sensation of eating salty-sour grilled pork would have to be with my family at the beach. We would buy the pork on the way, then grill it as soon as we arrive. The nuances are there: sometimes we only rub it with salt and pepper, then the vinegar becomes the dipping sauce, together with soy sauce (toyo), onions, garlic and tomatoes. But whichever way it’s been cooked, it always leaves us full, happy, and bathing in the sun.
Salt and Vinegar Grilled Pork (serves 6 – 8)
2 kg pork belly, sliced 1 ½ inch thick
- 1 cup white cane vinegar
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 2 – 3 tablespoons brown sugar, optional
- 3 tablespoons patis/fish sauce
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup Knorr liquid seasoning
- 1 whole garlic bulb, minced
- A dash of red pepper flakes
- 2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons white cane vinegar, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar, or to taste
- Combine the marinade ingredients.
- Add the pork and make it is thoroughly coated with it. Marinate it overnight, turning once, after a few hours.
- Grill the pork on each side until golden brown, with grill marks. Make sure the meat does not burn. The time it takes for you to grill depends on how hot the grill is.
- When done, remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes. Slice into bite-sized pieces and serve with rice and dipping sauce. Enjoy!
- Make the dipping sauce: over medium heat, add oil in a small saucepan. Add garlic and toast lightly. Add red pepper flakes and toast for a few seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust taste to your liking. Remove from heat and serve with the grilled pork.