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Lorenzo Beronilla, Actor and Cookbook Author
New cookbook, Let’s Do This, Folks! Home Cooking with Lorenzo
Tapa Tenders (Tocino Pork)
¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
8 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp (30 ml) rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp (15 g) white sugar
1 cup (240 ml) soda, like 7 UP, or your choice of fizzy liquid
¼ tsp saltpeter, optional
1½ lb (680 g) pork butt
4–5 tbsp (60–75 ml)
To make the tocino, combine the soy sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, vinegar, white sugar, soda and saltpeter, if using. Set the marinade aside.
Thinly slice the pork into slabs about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Do your best to slice consistently, or next time do what I do—ask the butcher to do it!
The marinade and marinating time are very important to pulling off this delicious dish, but let’s go one step further and use a meat mallet to tenderize the sliced meat too. If you don’t have a mallet, you can use a rolling pin or a heavy skillet. Place the slabs of meat between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound the meat for about a minute on each side. This will break up and soften the fibers, making the meat easier to chew.
Fizzy liquid also helps tenderize the meat, and if it contains sugar, it helps to form a coating that will char when cooked. Charring, particularly on the pork tocino, is yummy, so we WANT it to turn out this way. Saltpeter is an optional ingredient that also tenderizes and cures meat. Using it will give the meat the traditional reddish color we Flips grew up seeing.
The meat will need to marinate for at least 8 hours, but the longer the better. I usually put it in the fridge overnight. For the best result, put the meat and marinade in a sealer bag. This way the meat will marinate evenly.
When the meat is marinated, heat a skillet over medium heat and pour in the veggie oil. It’s important to drain as much marinade as possible from the slabs before placing them into the hot oil to avoid splattering. Believe me, I have the scars to attest to the importance of this step! Fry each slab of meat for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until it’s tender and the outside is lightly charred.
A fun alternative is to cook the meat on skewers instead of using a skillet. If you do use wooden skewers, soak them in water for 20 minutes first so they don’t burn. Needle the skewer through the meat, keeping the slab whole. Now you have a shish kebab! Either broil or grill until tender and you get that cool charred look.
Flip Tip: If you can’t find pork butt, pork loin is fine too, “butt” we need it fatty. (Relax, pork butt is a cut taken from the upper portion of the shoulder!) For tapa, sirloin steak is a must.
Serve with rice, fresh ripe tomatoes and a fried egg or two. You could also serve with sauteed Baby Bok choy
Sauteed Baby Bok choy
4 cups stock (veggie, chicken, or beef)
1 pound Baby Bok choy
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tbsp oyster sauce
Bring a large saucepan of stock to a boil. Dip the roots of the Bok choy into the stock for approximately 20 seconds, and then immerse all of it for approximately 1 minute.
Transfer the Bok choy to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
In a wok, add 1 tbsp of sesame oil and 2 tbsp of butter and heat over medium high. Add in 3 garlic cloves minced.
Toss the blanched baby Bok choy strained from the ice bath into the wok.
Add 4 tbsp of oyster sauce to the wok with the Bok choy and sauté for 2-3 minutes.