Roasted Pork Belly Roll (Cebuchon)

Merry Christmas everyone!

This is one of the dishes I prepared for our Noche Buena last night and a few readers have asked me how to make it, so I tried finishing it up today, in case you want to make it for New Year’s Eve. 😊

It is a smaller version of a roasted whole pig we used to have when I was little. Whenever there is a big celebration, like town fiesta or Christmas, our aunts would have a lot of food on the table, complete with a roasted whole pig. It was roasted all day on a makeshift pit big enough to accommodate it. When done, we would all fight over the crispy, crackly skin as that was the best part!

This size is much more manageable and practical, as a whole pig won’t fit in a standard US home oven. Not to mention I’m not sure where I could get a whole pig, not that I want to know. 😱

Unfortunately, I was busy preparing several dishes and cakes at the same time I was making this that I wasn’t able to take step by step photos.

This pork roll is easy to prepare but you’ll just need time and a couple of special ingredients.

First, is a big slab of pork belly with skin on. I got mine from a Filipino grocery store, Seafood City in Irvine, California. I got lucky since they just received a delivery when I shopped there. It was around 18 pounds, frozen solid. I left it in the refrigerator for a few days to defrost completely. I bought it Saturday night and prepared it Thursday.

Next, you’ll need some lemon grass. I grow several herbs in the backyard including lemon grass, but if you don’t, try any Asian grocery store or farmer’s market. The photo above was taken after I took most of it for this recipe, so it looks kinda scraggly. 😊

Other ingredients are only vinegar (I used kombucha vinegar because I had some), garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.

You will also need a good kitchen twine to tie this up and preferably, a husband or a wife or someone who can help with the tying process. I used the thick twine, the one on the left, to secure this pork roll.

To serve, you’ll need some lechon sauce. We use the Mang Tomas brand photographed above, you can buy it in Asian groceries.

And of course , you’ll need lots of time!

Hands on time is about 30 minutes the day before, to prepare the pork roll. Then you’ll need to chill this for at least 8 hours(but not more than 24 hours), and then the baking time is about 6 hours. Do a little math so you can have it ready by the time you want!

*note: To serve at 7 pm, I start baking at around 12:30pm as it takes about 6 hours or so to cook.*

So if you have all of those ready, here goes!

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Ingredients:

10-15 pounds pork belly with skin, defrosted

1/2 -3/4 cup kombucha vinegar (or white vinegar)

2-3 tablespoons sea salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic

3-5 stalks of lemon grass, tops and bottoms trimmed, then pounded with a meat tenderizer or back of the knife blade.

1 big red onion, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)

Procedure:

1. Place the pork on a cutting board over the sink and pierce with a meat tenderizer (or fork or knife). Turn over and pierce the skin side too.

2. Pour vinegar little by little while rubbing it all over the pork. Turn the pork over and repeat with the remaining vinegar. Don’t worry about how much you’ll use as excess will just run into the sink. We do this to help dry out the skin and to help remove unpleasant odor. That in turn will make the skin crackly and crunchy and just delicious!

3. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the pork. Be generous as this is only flavoring the pork will have aside from the aromatics.

4. Turn the pork skin side down and place the lemon grass, onions, and garlic straight down the middle, horizontally on the long side.

5. Roll up the pork (I called my husband to help me), making sure the skin doesn’t overlap. It should touch in a circle, end to end – don’t make it into a pinwheel as the skin inside won’t be crisp.

6. Tie the pork in 1-2 inch intervals with kitchen twine. I held the pork roll stable and my husband tied it up. Team work!

7. Any onion or garlic that fell out, I pushed back into the roll.

8. Place the pork roll on a large baking sheet, uncovered, and chill around 8 hours (but not more than 24 hours) in the refrigerator. I prepare this at night and leave it in the fridge overnight.

9. Remove pork roll from the fridge and preheat the oven to 200F. Bake at 200F for 3 1/2 hours. This helps to dry the skin out thoroughly and start the cooking process slowly.

10. Increase temperature to 350F and continue baking for 1 1/2 hours. (*You can bake a cake together at this time since they’re usually baked at 350F).

11. Increase temperature to 450F and bake for 35 to 45 minutes more until golden brown and skin is blistered and shiny. (*You can bake a bread together this time as most breads bake at 450F for 30 minutes or so).

12. Remove from oven. Check that the internal temperature is at 170F – 200F. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.

13. Place on a cutting board, and carefully slice into rounds using a serrated knife. Be extra careful as the skin is crisp and your knife can easily slip.

14. Cut the rounds into bite sized pieces.

15. Serve with lechon sauce, or vinegar with garlic, salt, pepper, and slices of hot chili.

Enjoy!

Tonkatsu (Breaded, Fried Pork Chops)

My all time favorite dish!

Call it whatever you want, schnitzel, milanesa, katsu…I always go with what I called it growing up-TONKATSU. And it has to be pork chops! Chicken is only acceptable to me when I have no other choice. 😊

Served with very thinly sliced cabbage, freshly cooked white, sticky rice, and of course the essential Bulldog sauce (no, it is NOT made with bulldogs!), I am a happy camper! I can really eat this everyday and I won’t get tired if it!

My mom, being Japanese, used to make this when we were little. It is definitely a comfort food for me and my family. My son actually loves this as much as do so even if I try to avoid serving fried dishes, I do oblige and make this once in a while. I always top the cabbage with Kewpie mayo too!

Of course, this is also the perfect “milanesa” to top my Peruvian Tallarin Verde. But more about that in my later article!

You’ll need pork chops. As much as you like!

I marinate them in lemon juice and fish sauce if I have time. Equal parts of lemon juice and fish sauce will make your pork chops taste really good, not fishy at all! Leave them in your refrigerator, covered, for a few hours, ideally overnight.

If you’re pressed for time, just salt and pepper them. It’ll taste good too!

You’ll also need flour. I start with about a cup of flour in a plate, and mix in a pinch or two of salt and pepper. This will be your first coating on the pork chops.

Next, you’ll need an egg or two mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Beat that well in another plate. This is your second coating.

Panko. Japanese bread crumbs. This will turn your pork chops into Tonkatsu.

Grab a bag, open, and pour some into a clean plate. A third plate. One for the flour mixture, one for the egg mixture, and one for the panko. Yup, this is your final coating before frying. 😋

Step 1: place a pork chop into the flour mixture, lightly press down on it to coat with flour,

Step 2: Turn over and coat the other side well.

Step 3: transfer to the egg mixture, coat well.

Step 4: turn pork over to coat the other side too.

Step 5: move on to the panko, coating one side thoroughly,

Step 6: turn over and press pork onto the panko to coat the other side. Repeat with remaining pork chops.

Step 7: heat a good amount of canola oil in a fry pan over medium heat.

Step 8: When hot, slide a couple of pork chops in. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Step 9: Carefully turn over to cook the other side. I find this is easiest done with a metal kitchen tong.

Step 10: cook the other side until golden snd meat is cooked through.

Step 11: carefully remove tonkatsu onto paper towel lined plate or wire rack.

Step 12: thinly slice a small head of cabbage. Rinse in cool water snd drain thoroughly.

Step 13: arrange tonkatsu, cabbage, and rice on s plate.

Step 14: serve with Bulldog sauce snd Kewpie mayo! Enjoy!!!

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Shoyu Chicken

One of the easiest recipe ever! As easy as – place everything in a saucepan, simmer until done and sauce is reduced to a thick, sweet syrup. And of course, the chicken cooked through.

This is another Brentwood UCLA recipe that I still constantly prepare. The original recipe is from my work spouse, Loraine Yokote. She has a lot of easy to prepare yet utterly delicious recipes that I love! I mean who won’t like easy recipes, as we mostly work away from home yet still need to feed our families when we get home, right?

This is perfect, specially for when you are crunched for time. Simmer this on the stove then prepare the sides (rice in a rice cooker needs no supervision, a salad will come together in 5 minutes…) and you will still have enough time to take a shower, or help with homework while dinner is cooking by itself. All around awesome, I think!

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Ingredients:

6 chicken thighs, or 8 drumsticks

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon sake, vermouth, or sherry

Procedure:

1. Place chicken pieces in a saucepan. *I used up a whole package of chicken drumsticks. There were 11 pieces and so I adjusted the amount of the other ingredients accordingly.*

2. Pour in water,

3. Soy sauce,

4. Sugar,

5. garlic and ginger, (I love garlic and ginger, so I added more than what the original recipe called for!)

6. and finally the sake. Stir, stir, stir!

7. Cover the saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil.

8. Lower heat and simmer for about an hour. The longer you cook it, the more tender the chicken will be. Watch the level of the liquid in the pot. You do not want this to burn.

9. After about an hour you will have this deliciously sweet, glazed chicken that goes perfectly with freshly cooked white rice! Or salad if that is what you like!

10. Enjoy and I hope you like it!

The original recipe by Loraine Yokote

Spicy Eggplant

Spicy Eggplant…this is one of my favorite dishes to order when eating out at an Asian restaurant. Of course with COVID-19 I had been cooking almost all of our meals at home for over a year.

Most of the meals I like to eat are easily made at home so I just had to recreate this recipe too as I have been craving spicy, salty, sweet foods lately. Must be because we are in this pandemic longer than anyone thought we would. This dish checks all the boxes – spicy, sweet, and salty – truly delicious with plain steamed rice. As a bonus, you get your veggie serving in there too!

You can make this vegetarian by cooking it as it is but my boys like meat and frowns if they cannot find meat in their plate so I did add a couple of handfuls of chopped meat in there. You can also make it spicier buy adding more chili paste. As always, feel free to tailor my recipes to your tastes!

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For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon plain white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste (sambal oelek)
1/2 teaspoon ground bean sauce (or hoisin sauce)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

To finish cooking:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 pound eggplant, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

*I added about 200 grams chopped pork to this recipe when I was taking photos of it for this article. You can leave it out if you want, but it sure makes it taste better!*

1. Prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing well. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok to 350 degrees F.

3. Add the diced eggplant and cook, stirring once, for about one minute. Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and set on paper toweling to drain.

4. Remove all but about a teaspoon of oil from the wok. Turn the heat to high and add the garlic.

5. Add the chopped pork and let it brown for a few minutes.

6. Carefully pour in the sauce.

7. Let the sauce come to a simmer for 30 seconds.

8. Add the eggplant back to the wok and cook for 10-15 seconds while stirring.

9. Combine the cornstarch,

10. and water to make a smooth paste.

11. Stir it into the eggplant mixture.

12. Keep stirring until it thickens.

13. Let it come to a boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

14. Serve hot with lots of steamed white rice.

15. Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s Thai Style Yellow Curry Sauce

I love the convenience of bottled simmer sauces that are becoming available at the grocery stores. They are truly life savers for when you come home late from work and need something on the dinner table real quick. The trick is finding out which ones you like, which means trying out a few brands.

I’ve always been lucky with almost anything I get at Trader Joe’s. They’re reasonably priced and always delicious, but sometimes you get hooked but you can never get it again. I had some favorite cheeses and sauces that was not available anymore when I came back for more. Sad.

So if I see something I want to try, I usually buy a couple to start with. They do have expiration dates so I cannot really get a dozen or so as we will get tired of it if I cook it too often. 😊

So…this is my most recent find!

I’ll cook this with some cut up chicken, garlic, onions, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, and a couple of bell peppers from the garden.

You can definitely eyeball the amounts and adjust anything to your taste.

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Begin by preparing all of your ingredients. I used the following:

1-2 tablespoons oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 onion, peeled and diced

1 pound of chicken breast, cubed

1 big potato, peeled and diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 zucchini, trimmed and cut into half moons

A handful of mushrooms, chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 bottle of Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce

Water

Freshly cooked rice and chopped cilantro, for serving

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Sauté garlic and onions until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Next add the potatoes and carrots. Stir and cook for a few minutes.

3. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and bell pepper.

4. Pour the curry sauce over. Fill the bottle halfway with water, cover and shake to get every last bit of the delicious sauce, open the bottle then pour contents into the pan.

5. Stir the mixture and cover with a lid. Lower heat to medium low and simmer until chicken and vegetables are done, around 10-20 minutes.

6. Serve over freshly cooked, hot rice. Top with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Mackerel Pate

Hello my friends!

Today I’ll be making a delicious fish sandwich spread. As you might know, I make our bread at least once a week and of course, I want the best sandwich fillings to go with it.

My very favorite will always be butter and orange marmalade, but tuna salad, and BLT are close contenders.

We do have the usual Turkey and/or Ham with cheese and mayo quite often too.

My mom was taking about how she eats some canned mackerel more often now as it is very good fo your health, so imagine how excited I was when I found these at Trader Joe’s.

I was going to mix it up like my tuna salad but figured out I can make a more tasty spread using cream cheese. It makes a thicker spread that you can thin out using some mayonnaise. I hope you’ll like it!

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Ingredients:

1/4 red onion, chopped

4-6 tablespoons cream cheese, at room temperature

Pinch of garlic powder

Pinch of ground black pepper

Pinch of Salt

1 6oz can mackerel, drained

1 hard boiled egg, peeled and chopped

*you can add 1 – 2 tablespoons mayo to loosen up the pate if you like it more spreadable*

Procedure:

1. In a bowl, mix together onions and cream cheese.

2. Add garlic powder,

3. Ground black pepper,

4. And salt.

5. Open the can of mackerel and drain well.

6. Place the fillets in the bowl.

7. Mash and mix everything together.

8. Add in chopped eggs.

9. Mix well. Add mayonnaise if using.

10. Spread on a thick slice of toasted bread.

11. Enjoy!

Moo Goo Gai Pan

Here is a quick and easy version of a staple Chinese restaurant take out!

Once in a while I’d crave Chinese food really bad. Most good restaurants are not close to where I live so it’ll be about a 20-30 mile drive to get to one and I’m too lazy to drive out to hunt them down. So I made this using an older cookbook I saw at the library a while back.

The cooking process takes no time at all so make sure to prep everything in the beginning (chop, dice, mince…)and have it all ready to go.

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Ingredients:

1 pound chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons Chinese shao xing wine

2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/3 cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons oil

2 teaspoon garlic

2 teaspoon minced ginger

6 oz snow peas

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

Salt and pepper

Green onions, to serve

Procedure:

1. Prepare all ingredients and set close by.

2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together chicken, soy sauce shao xing wine, cornstarch, chicken stock, oyster sauce, and sugar.

3. In a wok, heat up oil. Sauté garlic and ginger until fragrant.

4. Drain chicken, keeping the marinade, and add the chicken to the wok. Stir fry until cooked through, about 5 – 10 minutes.

5. Add the snow peas, and stir fry for a minute.

6. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for another minute.

7. Add in the reserved marinade and boil for 3-4 minutes. Make sure you boil it.

8. Serve hot with freshly cooked white rice.

9. Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #93: Meatloaf

Meatloaf in the ELB…it might not look as amazing as oven baked ones, but convenience wise, it can’t be beat.

You just mix everything in a bowl, shape into a patty or 3, fit them in the ELB bowl, steam, and tada! A wonderful meal.

If you want to prep this the night before (like if you need it for next day’s lunch), you can follow the directions up until it’s covered with foil then refrigerate it until needed. Place in the ELB when ready and steam until done. I like to use a thermometer to make sure the meat is cooked through.

You can pair this with rice, veggies, Cornbread from this recipe https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/05/07/electric-lunchbox-beef-stew-and-corn-bread-with-optional-flan/ or even this Bacon Grease Cornbread here https://athomewiththeresa.com/2020/10/26/electric-lunchbox-63-bacon-grease-cornbread/

Hope you like this recipe!

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1 heaping cup of ground pork

1 egg

1/3 cup Ritz cracker crumbs (or plain bread crumbs)

1/4 cup plain yogurt (or milk)

2 tablespoons chopped onions

1/4 teaspoon salt (I used celery salt)

Ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Procedure:

1. In a bowl, combine ground pork,

2. Egg,

3. Ritz cracker crumbs,

4. Yogurt,

5. Chopped onions,

6. Celery salt,

7. Ground black pepper,

8. And Italian seasoning.

9. Mix well to incorporate everything together.

10. Since there are 3 of us in my home, I divided the mixture into 3 roughly equal sized portions. I shaped them into individual logs, and squeezed them into the medium ELB bowl. It would definitely work in the big ELB bowl too. Set this aside for now.

11. In a small bowl, combine ketchup,

12. Worcestershire sauce,

13. And brown sugar.

14. Mix well to combine.

15. Use this sauce to coat the tops of the meatballs.

16. Cover the bowl with a piece of foil. Set the bowl on the ELB base. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.

17. Carefully open the ELB and check the meat for doneness. I use a thermometer to make sure. 😊

18. Serve hot and enjoy!