This is a great dish. My version didn’t turn out exactly as it should have, but it was still delicious. More on that, later. Plan ahead at least 8 hours for making this, because the meat needs to marinate for that long.
“Tocino” means “bacon” in Spanish, which gives you an idea of what this dish is all about. Different countries have different interpretations of tocino, and this recipe is for the Philippines version. Filipino tocino typically uses a fattier cut of meat, such as pork belly, but other cuts are used, as well. I used sliced pork loin, which is actually a little too lean for this dish. Making it again, I’d opt for a lean cut of pork belly. Because loin is so lean, there was no fat to render out, which is key to this turning out as it should.
The version I made is a compilation of several different online recipes.
What you’ll need:
- 1 pound pork (shoulder or belly), cut into 0.25-inch slices
- 0.25-0.33 cups brown or light brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1T soy sauce
- 2T rice vinegar
- 0.25 cups pineapple juice (or orange juice)
- 0.5T finely ground black pepper
- red food coloring (optional—I didn’t use)
What to do:
Mix the brown sugar, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar and juice in a medium bowl. If you want reddish tocino, add the food coloring, if using, to the marinade.
Add the sliced pork, mixing to ensure the pork is completely covered with marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 8-16 hours. Don’t skimp on the time; it’s an important step.
About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let the temperature moderate on the counter.
In a large frypan over medium heat, pour all of the meat and marinade into the pan and distribute it within the pan.
Pour enough water to just barely cover the meat. Bring it to a low boil and let it braise until the water is cooked off.
With the water gone, and turning the pork pieces over from time to time, keep cooking until the sugar in the marinade begins to caramelize. Keep an eye on it at this point to ensure it doesn’t scorch. If you used a really lean cut of meat, it’s OK to add a little bit of oil to the pan to facilitate caramelization. Doing this would have made my version turn out more caramelized.
Once the sugars are caramelized, remove the meat from the pan and serve immediately.