For those who are unfamiliar, Tocino is a Filipino breakfast staple—it is cured, sweet and savory pork. Tocino is always served with sinangag or fried garlic rice, the egg of your choice, and probably some side of fresh or pickled vegetable or fruit. And good coffee. That combination is called Tosilog (tocino + sinangagitlog or egg) and is ubiquitous in many restaurant menus throughout the country.

Over here we’ve got a certified Tocino monster in Caroline. She just loves that stuff. But my problem has always been that the tocino we get from the grocery and in many restaurants is almost unrecognizable as meat and is made with saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to preserve it and keep the red color. It’s the same chemical compound used in sausages, bacon etc. Some major non-food uses are in fireworks and fertilizer (?!?). So obviously, I wanted a version of tocino that did not include saltpeter in the recipe.

Our recipe still includes things like ketchup, soy sauce, a bit of Sprite, and a bit of sugar, not to mention the fatty pork, that some of you might find unhealthy, but let’s live a little. It’s not like we’re having tocino everyday (not even every week, promise). Although this recipe works for two breakfasts with 4-6 servings each time which is part of the point—it’s an economical homemade version that you can stretch. Just the absence of saltpeter is a huge improvement. And the taste? Let me tell you.

We call it Tocino Bacon because that’s exactly what it tastes like. We have the sweet-savouriness of juicy tocino mixed with the fatty-crispness of bacon (also, Tocino means bacon is Spanish). The secret is in the marinade, using that genius sukiyaki cut of pork, and the cooking method. You can usually get the sukiyaki cut in most groceries here and what it is is machine-cut very thin slices of pork with a good amount fat.

We were not all lovers of tocino over here, but this recipe has changed that. Most of all, our tocino expert has approved of this recipe glowingly. We are never going back. – Ina

Tocino Bacon

1/2 kg of pork, sukiyaki cut
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
3/4 cup of ketchup
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of Sprite
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
cracked black pepper


1. Make the marinade by sauteing the garlic in a bit of oil in a medium sized pan. When slightly browned add the ketchup, soy sauce, pineapple juice, sugar, Sprite and pepper.

2. Stir occasionally and gently bring to a boil. Turn the heat off immediately and allow the marinade to cool. Important: Don’t pour the marinade over the pork while the liquid is hot or you will cook the meat.

3. Once cooled, add the marinade to the pork and store, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.

4. Before cooking, take the tocino out of the fridge ahead of cooking so it’s not too cold when you fry. Put a bit of oil in a hot, non-stick pan, and fry the tocino in small batches, turning once. The sukiyaki cut might yield some wider and longer cuts of the pork and you can leave it that way or you can cut up the pork into smaller pieces before frying like in the photo above.

5. As the tocino cooks it will render some of that fat, the sugars in the marinade will caramelize, and you will have a reddish-brown result with some crisp, burnt edges. Serve at once with fried garlic rice, eggs and your favorite vinegar for dipping if you wish.


1. This recipe is good for up to two meals (4-6 servings each).

2. If you get the pork frozen, make sure it is completely thawed and drained before adding the marinade.

3. The marinated pork keeps well in the refrigerator up to five days. We have not tried freezing it or storing it in the ref beyond that so please keep that in mind.


*Photo by Ina Amor Mejia.