Foodie Friday: Homemade Tocino

First Friday of the month:  Food / Mom-Cook

Sweet pork. That's how I refer to tocino for the benefit of the kids whenever we have this viand for lunch or dinner.  Tocino is cured meat, Spanish for bacon.

This tender and tasty red slices of meat, glazed and slightly charred when cooked, is a traditional Filipino breakfast dishTocino is often served with garlic fried rice (sinangag) and sunny-side fried egg (pritong itlog), hence the contraction Tosilog -- used to name this favorite set meal.  Spiced vinegar complements as dipping sauce, and sometimes, you will find tangy achara (shredded vegetable pickles) on the side to complete the course.

This is one of those dishes that the kids actually like (since it's on the sweet side), but unfortunately, not recommended especially for youngsters. Well, like most canned and processed foods, it is mainly due to the nitrates that act as preservatives, plus the red food coloring! Giving in to our tocino craving, I just limit serving this ready-to-cook dish to once a month.

Much to my delight, a recent post from Market Manila has opened my eyes to homemade tocino. Curing my own pork has never occurred to me! Why, oh why, just now? The idea of being able to serve this to my family guilt-free (sort of) really excited me!  And with this very simple preparation, I can finally turn my back on those mass-produced bright red tocino.

The challenge for me of course is to make mine as yummy as the ones I used to buy! (",)  As I've mentioned in the past, I don't exactly measure ingredients unless I'm baking, so below are approximate proportions of this version of sweet pork. Note that there should always be more sugar than salt.

Ready, set, cure!

Homemade Tocino

500 grams Pork tenderloin (lomo), sliced
1 tablespoon sea salt / rock salt (or coarse salt, not iodized)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika / Spanish paprika (whichever is available)
Approx. 4 tablespoon pineapple juice (optional)

To cure:
Pat on the salt and sugar mix on strips or thin medallions of meat
Sprinkle ground pepper, and paprika mainly for color
Mix  in pineapple juice if you wish, for extra flavor
In a sealed container, refrigerate for 2 days.

To cook:
Heat a small amount of oil in a pan.
Pan-fry cured meat until it caramelized and cooked through, around 20 minutes.

My first crack at curing pork turned out a bit too salty so I made some adjustments on the salt and sugar, then proceeded to make chicken tocino a week later.  This batch cooked and tasted so much better, especially with the tender and juicy thigh fillets I used (photo below).

Best served with rice and fried egg.
Enjoy this definitely Pinoy fare for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And don't forget the vinegar!

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