Pork barbecue is a true national favourite. It crosses economic boundaries – it’s cheap but classy – and appears in a variety of settings as street food, party food, served as a beer snack or a main meal with rice. It is found across the country, in every town, every day. As vendors light up the coals to feed the crowds, it becomes an experience as much as a snack. It’s the arms fanning smoke over skewers and basting the meat and the distinctive sweet, garlicky, chargrilled taste.
There are countless variations of pork barbecue. Generally, meat to fat ratio defines the good ones; this recipe uses half-half pork shoulder and belly for just the right moistness and flavour. And the key ingredient? Pineapple juice or lemonade for flavour and tenderising.
500g (1 b 2 oz) boneless pork belly, skin on
500g (1 lb 2 oz) boneless pork shoulder
250ml (81⁄2 fl oz/1 cup) pineapple juice or lemonade
125ml (4 fl oz/1⁄2 cup) soy sauce
80g (23⁄4 oz/1⁄3 cup firmly packed) brown sugar
1 garlic bulb, cloves smashed 2 long green chillies, thickly sliced
2 red bird’s-eye chillies, thickly sliced
2 tsp salt flakes
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Vegetable oil, for cooking
Toyomansi (soy sauce and lime juice dipping sauce) and steamed rice, to serve
Trim any excess fat from the pork belly and shoulder, then cut the pork belly into 6mm (1⁄4 inch) thick slices, then into pieces about 4cm (11⁄2 inches) wide. Cut the pork shoulder into 1 cm (1⁄2 inch) thick slices, then into pieces about 5 cm (2 inches) wide.
Place the pineapple juice, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, chilli, salt and pepper in a large non-reactive shallow dish and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the pork and, using your hands, massage the marinade into the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Soak about 25 bamboo skewers in water for 20 minutes to prevent them from burning during cooking. Preheat a charcoal or regular barbecue to medium. Drain the pork, reserving the marinade. Alternately thread 1–2 pieces each of pork belly and shoulder onto each skewer (don’t bunch up the meat), then brush both sides with oil.
Cook the skewers, in batches, for 6–8 minutes, turning and basting occasionally with the reserved marinade until cooked through and slightly charred. Remove from the heat and serve with toyomansi and steamed rice, if desired.
Recipe: Yasmin Newman (extract from 7000 Islands)
Photography: Jana Leibenstein
Styling: Vick Valsamis
Food prep: Caroline Griffiths