Recently, A. and myself found ourselves meeting up at the steps of the University of the Philippines' (UP) library for a lunch date at the Beach House.
The name is a misnomer as there's no sand and surf within sight and the house is no more than a sturdy shack with tables where diners eat al fresco underneath the shade of the old trees. The open grill where they cook hundreds of sticks everyday is constantly spewing white smoke that seems to drip with fat. It triggers some Pavlovian response from me and A. We rush to fall in line, our stomachs rumbling for the soft, oily meat and the rice and the extra rice.
The meal had me burping and thinking about barbecues. When I was in high school, I had spent several summers selling barbecues off the side walk of our rented Quezon City apartment. Pork and chicken innards (isaw) and pork barbecue sold for a few pesos and earned me a few regulars from a nearby printing press and househelps from the block. I was doing pretty well until one day a classmate, one of them cool dudes, drove by with his cousins and bought from my barbecue stand. So there I was...a sticky, sweaty fourteen year-old smelling of burnt pork, greatly mortified that someone from school would see me in my best impersonation of Cinderella. I don't think the cool school dudes noticed me at all but I closed shop after that day, leaving my proud parents wondering about my decision to quit the business.
Like many of my horrible high school moments, my time as a barbecue vendor has become a funny anecdote. But my love for barbecue hasn't taken a back seat, though.
I had recently tried out a dry rub recipe of Jamaican chicken jerks and did the same for pork belly (liempo). So here it is... my recipe for Fat Jerks.
1 kilo pork belly cut into 1/2 inch thick by 3 inch wide slices
3 teaspoons allspice
3 teaspoons thyme
5 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon dried chili pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
Mix all the ingredients, Add in more dried chili pepper if you want hotter fat jerk. Make sure the pork pieces is not dripping with water before rubbing in the mixture. Rub well and make sure the mixture covers up the pork. Let it marinate for at least an hour. You can keep the mixture overnight, in the refrigerator if you want.
Skewer the Fat Jerks and wrap them in aluminum foil, 3 to 4 sticks. Grill in high heat for about 20 minutes. Take out from the fire and unwrap. Place in the high heat grill again for 5 minutes. Use the pork dripping in the aluminum wrap to brush on the pork if it seems to get a bit dry.
Serve with a side dish of rice and fruit flavored salsa.