INFOGRAPHIC: Know Your Pork Cuts + Recipes You Can Use
We know it's daunting and can be confusing. What is a picnic ham? Are spareribs the same as the country-style ribs? Is the lechon kawali cut the same as the liempo cut? What part of the pig is the pork butt?
No worries. We break it down for you, from what it looks like to what cuts come from it. We even share a few tips on which is the best cooking method for each, so that armed with this useful guide, you can tell the butcher the cut you want for today's meal with confidence.
Kasim (Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt)
The kasim, which is called pork shoulder or pork butt in English, is one of two of the most common and versatile primal cuts in the meat case. Cut from the shoulder of the pig, it's a tough cut with lots of fat and tissue that make it ideal for slow cooking, but also makes it a general-purpose one. It can be ground up into ground pork or cubed and cooked as adobo. It's a fantastic cut to roast whole as its layers of fat help keep it moist.
How to cook it: Braise or stew, roast, grill
Menudo Cut - best used for menudo or pork dishes with smaller, uniform cuts, like igado.
Adobo Cut - best used for adobo or pork dishes that use bigger chunks, like this pork and potato stew.
Pork Steak - these bigger cuts of kasim are great for pork steak recipes.
Pork Barbecue - this cut is small, uniform, and perfect for putting on sticks to make Pinoy-style pork barbecue.
(Bonus Tip: some butchers sell them skewered already!)
Picnic Roast - this cut is the biggest of all the kasim cuts, and is best used in pulled pork recipes.
Lomo (Pork Loin)
Cut from the back of the pig, this is a moderately flavorful primal cut that will remain tender if cooked right. As is, season and slow roast it to make a pork rib roast for dinner. Ask your butcher "to French" the ribs and tie it up into a circle shape to get a crown roast. Or go simple and slice between the individual ribs for pork chops. Fillet it to get a whole pork loin which, when sliced and the skin is left intact, becomes cutlets and can be butterflied.
How to cook it: Roast, Braise or stew, Fry
Rib Roast - this rack of pork ribs is best used in roast or braised pork recipes.
Pork Chops - this versatile cut can be grilled, fried, roasted, or added to stews! Here are some pork chop recipes you should try.
Pork Loin - pork loin is different from pork tenderloin. Here are pork loin recipes to try.
Pork Cutlets - this cut is what's used in Japanese tonkatsu! Besides that, there are a lot of other pork cutlet recipes that are just as delicious.
Butterflied Pork Chops - You can use pork loin or pork chops to make this cut, but butterflied pork chops can also be bought as is at your local butcher.
From the same area as the pork loin, the tenderloin is the most tender of all cuts from the pig. It's small enough to be pan-fried whole and is fantastic when treated like a steak: seared on the outside until the inside is cooked through while being basted with a flavorful butter. While tender it's best seasoned well or even cooked with another flavorful ingredient as its flavor is the most mild of all the cuts.
How to cook it: Fry, Roast, Sauté, Stir-fry
Medallions - Pork medallions can be used in pork chop or pork steak recipes, too.
Filet Mignon - Pork filet mignon can be used instead of beef, which is great as they're less expensive.
Pork Strips - Pork strips are one of the quickest cooking pork cuts as not only are they cut small; they're already incredibly tender as soon as they're cooked.
Debone the loin and the row of bones that encased it is the ribs. Those located closer to the belly are the ribs while those closer to the backbone are the more tender baby back ribs. Remove the lining that covers the inner portion of the ribs or ask your butcher to do it for you before cooking. Pork ribs are fantastic basted and charred on the grill or roasted in the oven.
How to cook it: Grill, Roast
Baby Back Ribs - Not to be confused with spare ribs, baby back ribs is a whole rack that is perfect for grilled or roast recipes.
American-Style Ribs - American-style ribs are great for braised and barbecue ribs recipes.
Liempo (Pork Belly)
The favorite of Pinoys, the liempo or pork belly primal cut comes from the side or belly area of the pig. It's a fatty cut with interchanging layers of meat and fat, making it the most flavorful of the pork cuts as well as the one of the more versatile of cuts. Lechon belly roasts can be stuffed and rolled while the spareribs are delicious cubed up and used in sinigang.
How to cook it: Fry, Roast, Grill, Boil
Bacon - your favorite breakfast meat comes from liempo! You might be used to buying it, but did you know you could make homemade bacon too?
Country-Style Ribs - the best thing about this cut is that they're usually boneless.
Spareribs - this versatile cut is amazing roasted, barbecued, or even in soups and stews! Try these spareribs recipes.
Lechon Kawali Cut/Slab Bacon/Pancetta/Salt Pork - need we say more? Lechon kawali is one of the most beloved pork dishes in the Philippines because it's juicy, flavorful, and when done right - can have super crispy skin!
Pigue (Pork Leg or Ham Cut)
The second most versatile of the primal pork cuts, the pigue is taken from the opposite side from where the kasim is cut from: the back leg area. The pigue is also known as the leg or ham cut because joints of ham, including the spiral ham which is the boneless version, are made from this cut. Boneless, it's another general-purpose cut but is the leaner cut of the two. Because it is less fatty, it's ideal for slow cooking to help tenderize the meat.
Ground pork - you can make pork giniling recipes which use ground pork or giniling as the main ingredient, or use just a tiny amount in vegetable reciepes to add a more flavor.
Menudo cut - Just like the kasim, pigue can also be cut menudo-style.
Adobo cut - Just like the kasim, pigue can also be cut adobo-style.
How to cook it: Braise or stew, Roast, Boil
Pata (Pork Hock, Front or Back)
The pata or hock, from either the front or the back knee joints of the pig, is another Pinoy favorite because of the crispy pata and patatim. But beyond these two popular dishes, the underrated pata is a cut that can be used for the wide variety of dishes that otherwise require the general-purpose cuts.
While not fatty, it's nonetheless a flavorful cut, mostly owing to the skin surrounding the dark meat of the leg. The skin-on pata, when sliced, can easily sub for cubed meat in pork nilaga or sinigang. Deboned and chopped, it's the highly available substitute for the hard-to-find maskara for sisig. Plus, it's fantastic simmered in a tasty broth, as part of homemade stock, or stewed or braised in a flavorful sauce that only becomes thicker from the natural gelatin of the cut.
How to cook it: Fry, Boil, Braise or stew
Pata slices - Pata slices make cooking in a small pot easier, as they're smaller than bone-in pata. They're great for when you want pata chunks, in dishes like pata tim or humba.
Ham - Ham can also come from pata! With the bone removed, you can make flavorful ham recipes with it.
Ready to make your best pork dish yet? Here are more helpful guides to Filipino food that use pork: