Chargrilled pork belly

Chargrilled pork belly

Inihaw na liempo

7000 Islands
Jana Liebenstein

Just out of town, my family owns a farm, which my lolo and lola (grandparents) bought as a retreat. Here, we enjoy native simplicity. A makeshift hut sits by the cool river, where a table is lined with banana leaves. Next, a big coal pit is set alight. Then inihaw na liempo arrives hot from the flames and we eat it boodle fight-style (see note). Pork belly and Filipino barbecues go hand-in-hand; the fat drips into the flames, which flares up and chars the skin, and smoke infuses the juicy meat.


Quantity Ingredient
125ml coconut or apple cider vinegar
80ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
600g pork spare ribs or belly
Soy, vinegar and chilli dipping sauce
or Garlic and vinegar dipping sauce
steamed rice, to serve


  1. Place the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic and pepper in a large shallow dish and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the pork and, using your hands, massage into the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight.
  2. Remove the pork mixture from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat a charcoal or regular barbecue to medium. Remove the pork, reserving the marinade, and cook for 5–6 minutes on each side, occasionally basting with the reserved marinade until slightly charred and cooked through. Rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Season the pork with salt flakes, then cut into 3 cm pieces, if desired. Serve with dipping sauce and steamed rice.

What is it?

  • The term ‘boodle fight’ stems from the Philippine Military, where lined mess hall tables are piled with food, from steamed rice to whole grilled fish. Neither plates nor cutlery are present. Officer and general alike partake of the meal together with bare hands in a symbolic act of equality and brotherhood. That said, it is equally every man for himself and a friendly fight for one’s fill before it is quickly demolished. The term and the style of eating is now a widespread tradition.
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