As soon as I tossed the Inihaw na Liempo – Grilled Pork Belly on the grill, the smoke that floated upwards was an enticing blend of garlic-vinegar scents. I clutched the grill’s handle on the cover and swung it open it to take a peek. There on the grill rack, the pork pieces were sizzling, the skin popping with large blisters, and the garlic scent was irresistible.
I sliced the cooked pork belly on the chopping board. I remembered how much my late dad enjoyed these ‘inihaw na babi” as they are called in Kapampangan, with a mug of his favorite chilled San Miguel beer. This entrée was a mainstay at my childhood home in the Philippines. Thoughts of my father came to mind as I plated the pork belly cubes along with grilled eggplants, sweet corn and a mango-tomato salsa on the side.
We celebrate many events during the month of June at our home. We have family birthdays, Father’s Day, Philippine Independence Day, and it is my blog’s 10th anniversary. What started out as a digital log of sorts for my sons to cook when they moved away from home, turned out to be an enjoyable endeavor for me with weekly postings of recipes and stories. And the friends I’ve made in the blogging and culinary world, both here in America and the Philippines have been invaluable.
Best of all, it is you, my dear readers who keep me going week after week. When I cook and share my recipes, I think of you and hope in my heart you will enjoy what I posted.
As I arranged the platter of fragrant pork belly morsels, with its tantalizing, char-grilled edges, I looked around me and smiled. I have all I need right now and I am grateful.
Inihaw na Liempo - Grilled Pork Belly
The Filipino Inihaw na Liempo – Grilled Pork Belly uses the most basic Asian condiments one can find in the pantry: garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, calamansi juice, and the usual salt and black pepper. The beauty of this delectable dish is in its ease and simplicity that yields the most scrumptious grilled pork entrée with intoxicating garlicky aromas. Don’t forget to serve these luscious, char-grilled chunks with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce on the side. This is an Asian in America recipe. Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer or main course.
- Outdoor grill: Charcoal or Gas
For the grilled pork marinade:
- 2 pounds pork belly, boneless whole slab, about 3/4-inch thick, fat trimmed
- 1 large head of garlic minced, divided, use 3 to 4 cloves for side dipping sauce, the rest for marinade
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar (or use white vinegar)
- 1 Tablespoon calamansi juice fresh or frozen; or use lemon juice
For basting the grilled pork:
- 1 cup Sprite or 7-Up soda
- 1 Tablespoon toyo (soy sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon patis (fish sauce)
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
For the side dipping sauce
- 1 cup cider vinegar (or use white vinegar)
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic minced; from the whole head of garlic used in marinade
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 2 to 3 pieces siling labuyo (bird's eye chilies)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 stalk scallions chopped
- boiled rice
- In a large, non-reactive mixing bowl, combine the whole slab of pork, garlic, salt, ground black pepper, vinegar and lemon juice. Using a fork, pierce the pork belly around so the liquid and rest of the ingredients penetrate. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours or up to overnight.
To grill the pork:
- Prepare the basting sauce by combining in a medium-sized bowl: The Sprite or 7 Up soda, soy sauce, patis, vegetable oil and brown sugar. Mix well and set aside.
- Grease the grate with non-stick spray or brush with oil to prevent meat from sticking.Pre-heat the outdoor grill to a medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Discard the liquid marinade from the pork. Place the whole pork slab over the grate and grill directly on medium heat. Brush the meat with the basting sauce every few minutes. Pork belly slabs can go over direct heat, but make sure it is not intense direct heat.Brush with the marinade after turning the pork on each side, once or twice. Turn the pork piece so the slab is nicely and evenly brown and the fat has rendered a bit. Total grilling time for this amount of boneless pork: (20 minutes per pound) Should be around 40 to 45 minutes over medium direct heat.Cook pork thoroughly till no pink parts remain.
- When pork is cooked, remove the slab from the heat and transfer to a chopping board. Allow the pork to rest for 5 minutes. Collect the juices that will flow from the pork as you slice and pour it over the meat when serving.Slice and chop the pork into bite-sized cubes or strips, about 1-inch in length. Serve warm with a side dipping sauce of spicy vinegar and boiled rice.
To make the spicy vinegar:
- In a small, serving bowl or mason glass jar (4 to 6 oz.) combine the vinegar, minced garlic, peppercorns, bird's eye chilies, salt, black pepper and scallions. Mix well. Set aside to serve with the Inihaw na Liempo - Grilled Pork Belly.
Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of the marinade ingredients. The actual amount of the marinade consumed will vary. The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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