Archive for the ‘Soy Sauce’ Category

Sunday Snack: Filipino-Style Grilled Pork Skewers

26 June 2011
Pork skewers on the grill!

Pork skewers on the grill!

This week we’re introducing one of our absolute favorite and underused ingredients: vinegar. We do a lot of fusion cooking, for lack of a better term, and one of our influences is most definitely the food of the Philippines — itself a fusion of sorts, a wild conglomeration of indigenous, Chinese, Spanish, and American cuisines. One of the hallmarks of Filipino food is the frequent and generous application of sourness in its various forms … in one of our favorite ways, by using vinegar as both a marinade and in sauces. Our platform to deliver the flavor is a great summer afternoon snack: grilled skewers of marinated cubes of pork.

For what it’s worth, we’re pairing these with a crisp sauvignon blanc, in our case, a 2010 Château Lestrille Entre-Deux-Mers. They go great with beer (San Miguel, anyone?) as well.

For more traditional Filipino dishes, we would use cider vinegar or plain old white vinegar, but to the uninitiated, the intensity may be too much, too soon, so we settle for balsamic vinegar and a seasoned rice vinegar. Both the balsamic and the rice vinegar give the pork a nice, sweet, and tangy flavor profile. You can pick up both of these in the ethnic aisle at any reasonable grocery store. If all you can find is plain rice vinegar (i.e. no sugar or salt listed in the ingredients), you can use it, but add a few pinches of sugar and salt to the marinade. Please don’t use expensive balsamic, it would be a waste — use a plain old mass market brand and you’ll be fine.

  • 2 pork chops, 4 – 6 ounces each, or pork tenderloin, or shoulder, or butt … whatever you have on hand. Size isn’t important as long as you adjust the amount of marinade accordingly.
  • some bamboo skewers, soaked in water so they don’t burn on the grill (metal skewers are fine, of course)

    Marinade (cw from top): soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, shallot, bay leaves, lemon, and balsamic.

    Marinade (cw from top): soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, shallot, bay leaves, lemon, and balsamic.

For the marinade, you will need:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup soy sauce
  • the juice of one medium lemon
  • one shallot (substitute some minced yellow onion if you wish)
  • two cloves garlic (or more if you like), peeled and degermed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • one teaspoon (or to taste) Sambal Oleck or another hot, spicy sauce (optional)

It takes an hour or so to properly marinate the pork, longer if you want a more pungent, intense flavor. I wouldn’t go less than 30 minutes unless you plan on reducing the marinade on the stove to use as a dipping sauce. Let’s get cooking:

  1. Combine both vinegars, the soy sauce, the bay leaves, and the hot sauce (if using) in a one gallon ziplock bag.
  2. If you have a Rocket Blender or some other such thing, pulverize the shallot and garlic with the lemon juice and add to the marinade. If you don’t have something like that, just mince the shallot and garlic and add it with the lemon juice to the ziplock bag.
  3. Cut the pork into 3/4 inch cubes or, if you’re using the “S” curve skewer method, 3/4 inch wide strips. Add them to the marinade, mix well, seal the bag, and stick back in the fridge for an hour (or more if you’ve drank the kool-aid and already love vinegar).

    S-type and traditional ways to skewer the pork.

    S-type and traditional ways to skewer the pork.

  4. Decide whether you want to make rice. Rice is awesome with this dish, and can turn this snack into a lunch or light dinner. Have a glass of wine, or crack open a beer. You deserve it, you have arranged things so that you will be eating well very soon.
  5. Get your grill going when it’s time. I’m assuming you know how to do this. For charcoal, pile the coals to one side so you can do both direct and indirect heat. Your strategy will be to sear and mark the pork and then move them to the indirect side to finish. For gas grills, don’t underestimate the power of pre-heating … it’s crucial for good results. You can sear these with a propane torch, too, but your neighbors will look at you funny. Since apparently you read Humboldt Kitchen, you are probably used to this, and have thick enough skin that you couldn’t give a f … care less. If you want rice, make it now.
  6. Remove the pork from the marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Skewer your pork.
  7. If you want to make a great but intense dipping sauce, put the marinade in a shallow pan over medium-high heat on the stove and reduce it to a consistency you like. It’s great to dip the cubes in, or to drizzle over rice.
  8. Grill your pork, taking care to rotate it so you can get some nice grill marks on each side. It won’t take more than 5 or 6 minutes, if you remember that the FDA has lowered the “safe” cooking temperature of pork to 145 degrees F. That’s right, folks, you can leave it pink and not worry about poisoning your loved ones.

    Filipino-style Grilled Pork Skewers

    Filipino-style Grilled Pork Skewers

  9. Pile the pork on a plate and let it rest a bit, then serve with the optional rice and reduced marinade. Thank me later, and welcome to the world of vinegar. You will be craving Adobong Manok in no time, and will be all the better for it.
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