This is a favourite of our many house guests: tocino, Filipino-style bacon.
Filipino breakfasts are amazing. There are few meals I love more than a good plate of garlic fried rice, fried eggs and sweet buns (pandesal) with one or more of the following Filipino breakfast meats: Filipino sausage (longanisa), Filipino bacon (tocino), Filipino breakfast steak (tapa) or grilled sardines (tuyo). In many restaurants, you can order these by their shortened names. For example, “tapsilog” for tapa (beef) – sinangag (garlic rice) – itlog (egg) and “longsilog” (longanisa-sinangag-itlog).
This is a quick and easy recipe for tocino - which is thinly sliced pork loin that has been marinated in a sweet soy sauce and fried until caramelized. It is like a thick, sweet and salty back bacon – a cross between pork jerky and bacon, really. We definitely prefer homemade tocino to store-bought. The artificial pink food colouring in prepackaged varieties is really quite off-putting to me. And since it’s so easy to make at home, I don’t see the point of buying it pre-made. Also, by choosing my own cuts of pork, we can avoid the grizzle and fatty bits.
It’s best if you can marinate the pork overnight – this allows the sugar to really soak into the meat. But, if you’re in a rush, 15 minutes is the absolute minimum.
The only thing annoying about making this dish is cleaning the pan!
- 1 pound thinly sliced pork loin steaks
- 1/4 cup Filipino soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon annato powder or paprika
Cut your pork steaks into 3-4 inch pieces. Make sure they are sliced thinly – at least as thin as the width of a finger. If you cannot find thin or fast-fry pork steaks, buy a chunk of pork, place it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes and then slice it carefully yourself.
Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar and annato powder or paprika in a large bowl. Place the pork slices in the bowl. Turn the pieces with your hands until each piece is evenly coated. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes. Longer is better but overnight is best.
When you are ready, coat a large non-stick pan with cooking spray or 1 tablespoon of oil. Heat on on medium high. Drain the marinade from the pork. Arrange the pork slices on the pan so that they lay flat. Cook on medium high to high until the juices bubble. Turn the pieces every 5-7 minutes. Continue cooking as the sugar caramelizes and the juices begin to stick like a paste to the pork.
The tocino is ready when they are nicely browned (or slightly blackened).
Serve with rice (or garlic-fried rice) and fried eggs!