Diet goes belly-up over my friend’s pork belly

30 04 2010

WOLFGANG PUCK once said, “In cooking, if you cannot even season the simplest thing, why cook?”   And I have to say, I couldn’t agree more.  I’ve had his angel hair pomodoro at Macy’s in San Francisco and I can vouch that he breathes life to the challenge he himself posed.

In the Philippine setting, I would consider pork to be one of the simplest things, if not the simplest.  And frankly, while I’ve enjoyed it in its various incarnations – adobo, picadillo, afritada, menudo, sinigang – I find that serving it devoid of any sauce or broth is actually the true test of the cook’s skill.

And at a friend’s baby boy’s second month birthday party, I came across what I honestly consider to be one of the best-tasting grilled pork I’ve ever had.  It was just the most perfectly seasoned cuts of pork belly, seared with grill marks that accentuated the balance of sweet, salty, and citrusy hints that got so ingrained into the layer of fat and meat.

While pride in my own skills have prevented me from asking for recipes from friends, that night in the party, I had to pull my good friend aside and demand for a copy of the recipe.  The flavors thoroughly worked in into her pork belly dish but their seeming stark simplicity left me at a loss in recreating the ingredients and the procedure in my head.  She’s been quite busy at work – she’s one of our Planning Managers – so I had to sheepishly follow up.

I finally got my hands on her recipe and just had to make it over the weekend.  The result?  I was a rock star at home.  I made enough to last a couple of days.  As with any really good marinades, the pork turned out great whether grilled or fried. And as how she served it at the party, I made a cucumber salad to go with it, along with a soy sauce-calamansi-leeks dipping sauce.

Thanks a lot, Jo!

The pork in Ms. Jo's special marinade! I used a combination of the "liempo" (pork belly) cuts and what the meat guy called as "country-style" cut that didn't have the strip of fat at all!


This one got fried! That's a beautiful strip of pork belly sizzling in there!


In place of grill marks from the barbie, caramelization from the pan is great!


My cucumber salad!


I love the burst of flavor and color(!) that tomatoes and red onions give to my cucumber salad.


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