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.
It was said to be named after the Spanish word “tocino”, which is used to describe cured meats.
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.
I do this by placing the cured meat in a cooking pot and then I pour 2 cups of water. I also add 3 to 4 tablespoons of cooking oil. This gets boiled uncovered until the water evaporates. The pork should be tender at this point. Let it fry on the remaining oil until darkens a bit. Make sure to keep an eye on the meat to prevent it from getting burnt. It has a tendency to burn quickly especially when fried in high heat because of its sugar content.
Once cooked, serve it with fried rice and fried egg.
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.
Pork Tocino is usually eaten during breakfast along with warm rice. Tosilog is a popular meal comprised of garlic rice (or sinangag), fried pork tocino, and a piece of fried sunny side up egg.
One word of advice though, even how good cured meat tastes, moderate consumption is still recommended. Too much intake can still affect our health in the long run. It is best to have pork tocino at least once or twice per month. By the way, it tastes best when dipped in spicy vinegar.
Good luck everyone and let me know if you have questions. You can reach me by emailing or by following our Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts (@panlasangpinoy).
Try this Pork Tocino Recipe and let me know what you think.
Homemade Pork Tocino
- 2 lbs. pork ham
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Prague powder #1
- 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon sodium phosphate
- 1/4 cup anisette liquor
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1/4 cup crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Vitamin C powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Red food coloring
- Slice the pork ham to about ¼ inch thickness
- Dissolve the sodium phosphate in 5 tablespoons of water.
- Except for the meat, combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
- Apply the combined mixture to the meat by rubbing. Make sure that the mixture is evenly distributed across the meat
- Place the mixed ingredients in a covered container
- Store the covered container (with meat and mixture) in room temperature for 14 hours. It may also be refrigerated but would take at least 3.5 days to complete.