Filipino Food: Pork BBQ

When I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn, my family belonged to a Filipino club. Every few months our club had parties that were more like pageants or shows. All the kids were taught dances and songs, which we were expected to perform at these parties. And the reward for our hard work was the food. Oh, the food! 

I enjoyed performing the songs and dances--except for one. The photo to the left shows me in full costume while dancing the Tinikling, a choreographed nightmare that still haunts me thirty plus years later. In addition to wearing an ankle length dress, I had to hold the hand of my male counterpart while stepping in and out of a set of bamboo sticks. Sounds easy, right? Well, the catch was this: every third beat the bamboo sticks would slam (and I mean SLAM!) shut. So if you didn't keep track of the beats, your foot would get caught between the bamboo sticks. While I survived the dance, I'm not sure if I will ever stop dreaming of getting my foot caught. Sometimes this particular dream is more frequent than the one about being in high school and not being able to get my locker open. Horrible, horrible...

As I mentioned before, the best part of these Filipino club parties was the food. And it seemed like no matter what the weather was like, there was always BBQ skewers. My Mom's recipe for the marinade included Seven Up soda and a banana ketchup called Mafran. Living in the suburbs does not grant me access to Mafran, and I tend not to have soda in the house. So I've made some substitutions.


4 lbs pork shoulder, cut into pieces (1/2 inch thick, approximately 2 inch square pieces)
for the marinade:
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup brown sugar
juice from 4 limes
2 tablespoons baking soda

Bamboo skewers

Put the all the ingredients for the marinade in a large mixing bowl. The marinade will bubble, which is fun to watch. The following is a video my daughter and I took of the marinade.

 Add the cut up meat and mix it around in the marinade. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Also, soak bamboo skewers overnight.


Take the bowl out of the refrigerator and wait at least one hour before putting the meat on the skewers. Each skewer should have 3 to 4 pieces of meat. Save the marinade and use it to baste the meat while it cooks on the grill.