Tocino (Filipino-Style Grilled Cured Pork) | Grilling

Joshua Bousel

I've come to the end of my little Filipino grilling kick that's recently seen greats like lechon liempo and chicken inasal, but I've left one of my favorites for last—tocino. My eyes light up whenever my mother-in-law cooks up a batch of this sweet, cured breakfast pork, and I eagerly end up finishing up an entire plate, as if making up for the lost years when tocino was not in my life.

I've tried making in the past with less than stellar results; something always seemed to be off. I gave it another go recently and finally got something I'm proud to share.

There isn't much to tocino: thinly sliced pieces of pork shoulder are cured in sugar and salt for a few days, then pan-fried and served with egg and rice for a hearty morning meal. Deceptively simple, it's the small things that make all the difference in this recipe, like the little pink salt to make a proper cure, and Anisette (traditionally this should be Anisado wine, but I couldn't find it anywhere) to add some depth to the otherwise sugary flavor.

Since I already had the fire going, I saw no need to dirty a pan to cook the pork, and placed the tocino right on the grill. It cooked up nicely with little sweet crunchy bits of char. The only thing missing was the ubiquitous bright red color—mine was more earthy red from annatto powder, but some red food coloring can pump up the red if you're so inclined.