Preparation time: 5mins
Cooking time: 2 hours
Arguably the national dish of the Philippines, this deeply earthy, tangy dish is steeped in history, and born out of a necessity for food preservation. Consisting of only 6 base ingredients, this simple and delicious staple continues to be a favourite in every Filipino household. Extremely versatile, it can be prepared with almost any protein - this recipe uses pork belly which is slowly braised to produce a soft, melt in the mouth texture. It can be enjoyed on the day, better still the day after, and any leftovers can be transformed into the most amazing pork sandwiches. Joy.
2kg native breed pork belly, cut into 1 inch cubes
Ask for a leaner portion of belly if possible, as the slow braising will render a lot of the pork fat which must be skimmed before serving. Note: the fat can be reserved for use in other dishes.
8 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp black peppercorns
5 bay leaves
150ml white vinegar
250ml light soy sauce
1. In a large pot, fry the cubes of pork with a little veg oil over a medium heat to brown evenly on all sides. Do this in batches so the pan does not become overcrowded. This will ensure the meat fries and does not boil in its juices.
2. Remove the pork from the pot and add the garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves. Fry until aromatic, about 1 minute. Return the pork to the pot along with the remaining ingredients. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
3. After boiling for 2 minutes, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the pork is fork tender. Stir occasionally.
4. Skim off excess fat. The dish can be served at this point with a lot of sauce. Alternatively, the sauce can be reduced to produce a 'drier' dish. To do this, remove the lid and turn the heat up to high. Reduce the sauce to desired consistency. Note: as the sauce thickens, more frequent stirring will be required to ensure it doesn't catch at the base of the pot.
5. Remove bay leaves. Serve with steamed Jasmine rice, and if you like some simple stir fried vegetables.
1. Continue to reduce the sauce until completely evaporated. Allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.
2. Remove from fridge and roughly chop meat.
3. Over a medium high heat, fry until golden.
4. Traditionally served in a sandwich with pandesal, but any soft white roll will do.
Recipe and photos by Mike Heywood, South London resident (currently on tour in The Philippines), regular customer, pork devotee, home chef and instagrammer extraordinaire. To see more stay tuned to this blog or follow Mike on Instagram @4TELIER
Meat cut and sourced by The Butchery Ltd and farmed by Maurice Trumper, Abervagennay.