Avoid These Mistakes When Making Pinoy-Style Pork Barbecue

Make the juiciest, soft-to-the-bite sticks of pork every time.

IMAGE Riell Santos

No party is complete without the Pinoy-style pork barbecue. It really is something special. It's not the usual barbecue: it has a balanced sweet and savory marinade and barbecue sauce that makes it unique and infinitely delicious. 

What makes a Pinoy-style pork barbecue recipe so delicious? The perfect Filipino-style pork barbecue is made with some care since there is a chance that the pork, or any meat for that matter, can over marinate and turn mushy instead of becoming tender. 

In fact, there are a few things that can go wrong when you do set out to make the perfect pork barbecue recipe. We're here to help you identify those factors and if possible, make sure you never do those mistakes again:

Slice your meat thinly and across the grain to get the most tender meats for your barbecue.
Photo by Pixabay

Mistake 1: You don't slice the pork thin enough. 

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The most common problem encountered when making pork barbecue is tough cuts of meat. While you want to use the most tender cuts, you also don't have to be tied to that hefty price tag. The pigue or kasim are both perfectly fine cuts for barbecue but there's a trick to using these cuts right. 

You need to not only slice across the grain to shorten the muscle strands but you also need to slice it just right. Too thin and you'll have bacon-like strips that will burn faster than it can cook on the grill. Too thick and you'll have pork that are more like kebabs than barbecue. A thickness of 1/4 of an inch is just thin enough. 

Once you have your pork sliced to the perfect thickness, cut up the pieces so you have pork pieces that are around 2 inches long. This is just long enough to skewer 2 to 3 times. 

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Soda is the secret ingredient in your Filipino barbecue sauce.
Photo by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

Mistake 2: You don't use softdrinks in the marinade. 

It may be a Pinoy thing to do this but we say you need to add a can of that lemon-lime soda into your marinade. Not only will you be amping up the flavor of your barbecue marinade but you will also be using the tenderizing abilities of the fizzy bubbles and citric acid present in the softdrink to tenderize your meat to perfection. 

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Make sure you marinate it enough to allow flavors to seep in. 
Photo by Pixabay

Mistake 3: You didn't let it marinate long enough. 

You finally made your marinade and the meat is in the flavorful liquid. What next? Patience. It's the trait lacking in many cooks since cooking is usually a fast process but in this instance, you need to exercise patience and let the meats marinate for at least an hour and at most overnight or 8 hours. Any shorter than an hour of marinating and you will end up with meat that only has a little bit of flavor and chewiness that could have been solved with a longer marinating time.   

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These skewered meats are ready to go on the grill!
Photo by Bru-nO on Pixabay

Mistake 4: You let it marinate too long. 

There is marinating and then there is marinating for too long. Marinating your pork barbecue just right is the perfect balance of tenderness and flavor. However, there is such a thing as marinating your meats for too long. Too long actually depends on how acidic or how strong the acid is in your marinade is. If you used calamansi, soda, or vinegar in your marinade, your marinade is now acidic to a degree. 

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The trick here is to determine how long to marinate your meat. Overnight is plenty of marinating time but this can be stretched to a day or 24 hours since the sugar, soy sauce, and other ingredients temper the acidity of those ingredients. However, marinate for longer than that and you can end up with meats that have gone beyond tender and have instead turned mushy.

Avoid this by timing your food preparation so you are ready to skewer and grill as soon as the meat has been marinated just right.  

Remember to soak your bamboo sticks before grilling to prevent it from burning off!
Photo by Hes Hidayat from Pixabay

Mistake 5: You forgot to soak the bamboo sticks in water. 

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While this doesn't affect the pork barbecue, this will affect how you cook your pork barbecue. If you have ever picked up a stick with no visible stick to hold onto but burnt ends, it's probably because whoever was preparing the pork barbecue forgot to soak the bamboo sticks before skewering the pork. 

Soaking the bamboo sticks ensures that while you're grilling your pork-laden barbecue sticks, the wood doesn't burn or catch on fire. Not only is this a safety tip, but it's also a smart one. You won't ever have to serve stickless pork barbecue ever again. 

You'll want to brush your barbecue with this delicious sauce but not too early!
Photo by Patrick Martires

Mistake 6: You basted the pork too early. 

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Your eagerness will get you into trouble when it comes to cooking your pork barbecue. Pork barbecue that has many burned spots are probably the result of brushing the barbecue sauce onto the pork stick too early. The barbecue sauce has a higher amount of sugar in it than the marinade and it's the sugar that's causing the pork to burn faster, easier. It's wonderful when caramelized just right but go too far and you will end up burning the barbecue sauce onto the pork. 

Hold back and allow the pork to cook through before basting so the barbecue sauce can heat up perfectly and stick to the pork just enough to be sweet and sticky. 

Once you have your perfectly cooked Pinoy-style pork barbecue, you'll have to make a big batch every time to satisfy everyone who will want a stick or three. 

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