Inihaw na Baboy (Grilled Pork Belly)

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Ingredients:

I pack of pork belly (usually three strips come to a pack)

Bay leaves (4-5)

Garlic powder (about 1 tablespoon) or Fresh Garlic, finely chopped. I prefer the latter but, in a pinch, the garlic powder does a nice job.

Ground pepper (approx. 1 tablespoon)

I can of Coca-Cola or Kalamansi Soda

Soy sauce and/or Knorr Seasoning Sauce (mixed with the soda, enough for the strips of pork belly to be submerged)

Method:

1. Combine all the ingredients, minus the pork belly, in a Tupperware container or Pyrex dish. Stir it to make sure all the flavours blend

2. Add the pork bellies, making sure they’re submerged. DO NOT slice the pork belly*. You can let this sit for a few hours and it’ll be ready for grilling but I like to leave it overnight in the refrigerator. If you do that, make sure its covered so it doesn’t dry out.

3. When ready to grill – which you can do in a barbeque pit, outdoor grill, or the broiler pan of your indoor oven – cook each side for approximately 8 or 9 minutes (could be less or more, depending on the proximity of the pork to the flame and/or the strength of the cooker you’re using). Bottom line: make sure the pork is cooked thoroughly and that there is a nice browning on the outside.

4. Once the pork is cooked, slice each strip into 1/2″ pieces.

5. Serve with white or Filipino garlic rice, laing (stewed banana leaves in coconut milk). As a condiment, you can use Mang Tomas dipping sauce and/or suka (white vinegar), with or without diced red pepper.

Garlic rice, inihaw na baboy and a scoop of laing

Garlic rice, inihaw na baboy and a scoop of laing

 

* Do NOT slice the pork belly until after marinating it and, for me, after cooking. For my taste, this is the best process for the following reasons: 1. Cutting the bellies before marinating it can lead to the pork getting overwhelmed by the marinade. When eating it, you should get a taste of the marinade while still being able to taste the meat. 2. Cooking the baboy when it’s already sliced can lead to the pork becoming dry.

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Kalamansaki

 

Kalamansaki (aka Cabanatuan)*

 

Kalamansaki

 

Ingredients:

Saki (your choice; the variety will determine how dry or smooth the drink is)

Tonic Water

Kalamansi juice concentrate or Fresh kalamansi juice (with or without sweetener)

 

Method:

It’s really a case of bunging everything together, to taste, stirring it and serving the concoction over ice. Actually, it tastes very much like a Mojito. The amounts you mix together depends on how much kick you want from the saki and how much sweetness or tart you want from the kalamansi concentrtate or kalamansi juice. Living in the United States, the concentrate is much easier to get than fresh kalamansi, and I have a bit of a sweet tooth anyway, so the concentrate is nice. However, there is still nothing like the smell and taste of fresh kalamansi, whether it’s being used in a cocktail, for kalamansi juice or soda, or as a condiment for pancit or daeng na bangus with toyo (soy sauce) and/or suka (vinegar).

Anyway, back to the Kalamansaki.

1. In a highball glass, pour 2 or 3 shots (or saki cups) of saki and 1 or 2 shots of the kalamansi concentrate. Stir.

2. Fill the glass about 2/3 full of Tonic Water and stir gently.

3. Pour into another highball glass with lots of ice in it.

 

 

* I’ve decided to give the Kalamanskai an alternate name, the Cabanatuan. This is for the area of The Philippines where what is regarded as the greatest rescue mission of World War II took place. US servicemen, alongside Filipino guerillas, rescued a battalion of captured US soldiers who were held in a POW camp by the Japanese.

 

 

Lobster Roll

It’s that time of year – summer, barbeque, beach and seafood season – and with that comes a change in how we dress, where we go and, of course, what we eat. One of the things popping up on menus these days is Lobster Roll and I had my first of the season at, of all places, a Nathan’s counter at the food court at The Livingston Mall in Livingston, New Jersey. And, it wasn’t half bad. In fact, it was surprisingly good.

You’re probably wondering why anyone in their right mind, and a self-proclaimed foodie at that, would even dare to get something as delicate as a Lobster Roll at a fast food counter in a mall’s food court. Normally when I’m there, after a trip to the attached Barnes and Noble or from perusing seasonal sales with my wife, I’d grab a couple thighs and a side of Rice and Beans from Popeye’s or a two item rice combo meal from Master Wok. This time, however, those items didn’t appeal to me and neither did anything else that’s there – Burger King, Sakura, the Italian joint, Subway. The Bubble Tea counter didn’t call to me either and I’m always up for boba.

Then, in the same corner and with the same employees as Nathan’s, I saw Arthur Treacher’s Fish and Chips. Having grown up in Hong Kong during the 1970s and 1980s, I’m very much an Anglophile. So, you can imagine my excitement at the thought of Fish and Chips. (Doing a little research writing this post, I discovered that Arthur Treacher’s is a Florida-based franchise and not an English one.) When I got to the counter, I checked out the menus. Treacher’s had, naturally, Fish and Chips. There were also Clam Strips, Fish Sandwich, Clam Strips Sandwich and Lobster Roll, among the other items. The Nathan’s menu had a Lobster Salad Sandwich with bacon. I love a good Lobster Roll but I’ve had some great ones that I’ve really enjoyed – Duryea’s in Montauk, St. James Gate in Maplewood, Stony’s in South Orange – so I opted for the Nathan’s version with bacon and I’m glad I did.

It’s likely the lobster salad used for the sandwich I ate is the same stuff that’s used for the Arthur Treacher’s offering and chances are it’s shipped in daily, probably from a mass produced food plant. Regardless, the sandwich was super tasty. Lobster is a delicate meat. I’ve grilled, boiled and steamed lobsters myself and, on occasion, I’ve kept them cooking just a tad too long. And that can turn the lobster from something that should melt in your mouth into something a little more than rubbery. Well, I am glad to report that the lobster I ate wasn’t rubbery at all. The salad was light on the mayo and seasoned with what I think was some kind of dill dressing but perfectly balanced so I could still taste the lobster and enjoy its texture. The bacon added a nice touch of saltiness and it wasn’t grilled too crunchy so that it crumbled at the slightest touch. There was a touch of smokiness to the bacon that blended well with the sweetness of the lobster and the dressing’s mild tang. Finally, there’s the roll. Many sandwiches live or die by the bread they’re made with. Well, this sandwich does more than live. Most Lobster Rolls I’ve had are served on a hot dog bun. The Nathan’s sandwich was served on a round roll, lightly toasted, but not to the point where it scratches the roof of your mouth or loses the softness inside the crust. It completed the sandwich nicely, a compliment to the bacon’s mild fire and the lobster’s subtle sweetness.

So, as Memorial Day leads into July Fourth into Labour Day, I’m sure I’ll have my fill of Lobster Rolls, Steamers, battered cod, you name. I may even report on each one, coming up with my top five list or something like that. But, the season’s only just begun and it’s fair to say I’m off to a good start. If you’re a lobster fan, I suggest you give the Nathan’s version a try. I give it, until I come up with my own rating system, two thumbs up.

By the way, anyone with ideas for a rating system I can use, please don’t hesitate to shoot me a message via the Contact Panlasa page. Thanks for stopping by.
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