In the Philippines, we are truly blessed with so many sunny days, perhaps at least 300 days a year (that's a guess) but growing up I can hardly remember having too many cloudy days. They only actually come when rain is about to pour, when there's a storm brewing or occasionally on monsoon season but they never last long. After a day or two the sun is back with a vengeance. That's because we are located just a little above the equator which means we almost always get the sun directly on us. Believe it or not though, we take the sun for granted and oftentimes don't like it. Weird, I know, having lived in Michigan which has only about 60 sunny days in a year on average. I think it's because it gets too hot when the sun is out and, being surrounded by water entirely, it's truly humid as well. That explains why we try to avoid walking during daytime, if we can. Just a few steps and you'll be dripping with sweat....yikes.
But, the great thing about having a sunny weather all the time is that it's always barbecue season - pretty much the whole year through. We are barbecue crazy in the Philippines. In every village, barrio and street corner you won't miss a barbecue stand, seriously. The amount and variety of meat that we grill is crazy - from chicken feet, gizzards, organs, etc. Ok, am not trying to gross you out - just explaining how we love to barbecue (and to be honest, I have never tried any of these street food!). We are quite famous for our Pork Barbecue and we have truly mastered it, I believe. My hubby who is not a pork fan at all, was suddenly converted to eating Pork when he tasted the Inihaw na Liempo (Grilled Pork Belly) at a beach resort we stayed in while vacationing in Manila. That was the best.
After several attempts I can now say, I am happy to have made my own version of Inihaw na Liempo. I like that it is flavorful and comes out really tender. We do have a secret ingredient and this is what sets the Filipino Pork Barbecue apart....care to know what it is? Then read the recipe and find out what tenderizes the meat. I used Pork Belly here but feel free to use Pork Chops or your favorite cut of pork (provided there is a little bit of fat in it so it will be more flavorful). You can chop the pork meat into bite size pieces and then skewer them or leave them as is and chop them afterwards, it's really up to you. Enjoy this super easy and really a no-fail recipe, at least it hasn't failed me yet. :)
2 lbs (1 Kilo) Pork Liempo (Pork belly, chops or shoulder - must have a little fat)
For the Marinade:
2 cups 7 UP or Sprite
1/3 cup Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Vinegar
6 Garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
3 Tablespoons Ketchup
2-3 Tablespoons Sweet Chili Sauce
1 Tablespoon Oil
Depending on the pork cut you are using, you can slice them into bite size pieces if you will use skewers for grilling. If you are using pre-cut pork chops, you can leave them as is.
Mix together all the marinade ingredients in a large glass bowl or dish. Place the pork pieces in the bowl and marinate for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight for more flavor absorption.
Preheat the grill. Thread the pork pieces in the skewers, if using. If they are bamboo skewers you need to soak them in water first for about 30 minutes to avoid burning them during grilling.
Mix all the basting ingredients in a bowl. Grill the meat for about 3-4 minutes per side or until slightly charred and cooked through. This may take longer if you are using Pork chops so adjust accordingly. Using a kitchen brush, baste with the sweet chili and ketchup sauce on both sides as you grill. To know if they are fully cooked, just get a piece of pork and slice it in the middle and see if the juices are already clear and the meat is no longer red.
Enjoy! This is perfect with a bowl of rice. You can also have it with a vinegar and garlic dipping sauce on the side! Yummmmm!!!
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