Tocino is a cured meat product native to the Philippines. It is sometimes referred to as sweet red pork. The curing preparation for this pork dish is similar to that of ham and bacon, except that red food coloring is needed to for this Filipino cured meat.
How to Make Pork Tocino
Making this cured meat is simple. However, you will need to have curing ingredients ready for the process. Pink curing salt or Prague powder is the main curing ingredient for this dish. You will also need sodium phosphate and Vitamin C powder. These might not be readily available in your pantry. It is best to make sure that all ingredients are available in front of you before starting.
I am located in the Chicago area and I sourced the ingredients online. I got the Prague powder (also known as curing salt) online from a website called myspiceage.com. I also ordered the sodium phosphate online from americanspice.com. The annissette liquer was purchased from a local wine store, while the rest of the ingredients came from the local grocery store. Making your own homemade tocino is really easy, as long as you have all the ingredients at hand.
These ingredients are easily available when you are located in the Philippines. Most local supermarkets and grocery stores carry these products.
Start the process by preparing the pork. Slice it into thin pieces. I like to use fatty cuts of pork. Pork shoulder is a perfect cut for me.
Once the pork is ready, prepare the powdered ingredients by diluting in water. Combine all curing ingredients together (see recipe below) and then rub it on the pork slices. The mixture needs to be sealed. Cure it for at least 14 hours in room temperature. I prefer to refrigerate the mixture for around 4 days before cooking. This gives me the best result.
How to Cook Pork Tocino
There is a proper way to cook pork tocino. It is important to cook the meat until it gets tender while not burning the outer part. This means that frying it right away will not give you the best result.
Pork Tocino Alternative Ingredients
This recipe is also applicable with other types of meat. Chicken tocino is a popular version next to pork. Beef slices can also be used to make beef tocino.
There is no direct alternative to the curing ingredients when making authentic tocino. However, you can make another dish with somewhat similar flavor by initially boiling the pork slices in pineapple juice, sugar, a few pinches of salt, and a piece of star anise. Continue boiling until the liquid evaporates. Quickly fry the meat for 1 minute per side.
This version is ideal for those who prefer to make tocino the natural way. It might not look and taste exactly the same, but it is good in its own right.