Grilled liempo-A A +A
Pots and Pans
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
GRILLING is an art, just like any other culinary means of turning a piece of meat into something more tasteful and edible. And this is not only for meat since we also grill seafoods, vegetables, fruits and even root crops to give a more distinctive taste and appearance.
How many times a day do we get to pass by a grill or barbeque shop? And how many shops do we see around the city and even nearby areas that sell not only liempo but also barbeque pork and lechon manok?
The delicious aroma, the smoke, the sight and even the sound of the skin crackling from the fire can make us stop and look. And if budget permits, we get to buy a piece that is good for the family’s lunch or dinner’s main course, with” sawsawan” (dip) on the side.
Or maybe, if we just can’t cook at home because of time constraint, this, including lechon manok and barbeque, are the easiest and fastest delight we can get for our meal. And I can say, a lot cheaper too compared to restaurant food.
An inch thick, with some skin, fat and some bones (which is actually the liempo part or belly) is the best. Although some other parts will do. But because of the combination of the meat and fat, once it is being cooked, it gives the meat the needed tenderness and juiciness which when again, combined with the crackling and crispy skin, dipped in your favorite sawsawan, can make us eat non-stop!
There are so many ways in preparing the meat and it doesn’t mean that one way is correct and the other way is wrong. It really depends on your palate. Basic seasonings would include salt and pepper. Some would have calamansi, (Philippine Lemon) in the mixture to give it a sour-y taste that we Pinoys love.
Adding toyo (soy sauce) tends to darken the meat, so using a little bit will go a long way. Some uses patis as the salting agent. Some combine soy sauce and vinegar with some chopped garlic and maybe onions. If one is on the sweeter side, then a little sugar can be added to any of the mixture.
But what I find the most simple and easiest is the rubbing of commercially prepared seasoning mix (and there are a lot!) and letting it stand for half an hour or so to let the seasoning penetrate the meat before grilling it. So how hard can grilling a piece of liempo be?
Well then again, it is not only in the meat, but also in the fire. It is the charcoal and the intensity of the fire. Too high, the heat burns the meat but with uncooked inside part. Heat that is too low won’t cook the meat properly.
Remember also that having an even cut of meat will help cook the meat evenly. This can always be done by your meat shop at no extra cost.
I have also seen a lot of people “grilling” their liempo inside the oven. I, for one, also do this if I am running out of time. Just make sure to position or arrange the meat in a way that there will be even heating and cooking. Some uses just the top fire or heat, some will use both. It really depends on your preference. Just make sure the meat is not overcooked because it could dry out and ruin everything.
Grilling also remove excess oil, which is, well, better than frying in general. That is, if you don’t include the crispy skin and the fat portion!
What about sawsawan? What is in it?
Well, again, basic ingredients include soy sauce, vinegar, chopped onions and/or garlic, slices of tomatoes, hot sauce or hot pepper to give the sauce a twist, and maybe some slices of ginger. Some might prefer just plain soy sauce while others might like vinegar only. Catsup, maybe? What about sukang pinakurat? Am I making everyone hungry yet?
So, whatever the occasion maybe, this is one of the many Pinoy food we all like. And it is found almost everywhere. It is affordable and an instant treat to everyone. Of course, it is also easy to prepare. So why not try this yourself… now?
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 09, 2012.