Pork marinated in sweet barbecue sauce, threaded into bamboo skewers, and grilled over hot coals.  Served hot and fresh from the grill with a plate of pancit and, of course, steaming hot rice, these handsome pork barbecue skewers are definitely another birthday staple and one of my childhood favorites.  Whenever there’s a reason to celebrate, even in the middle of the hottest summer or the wettest monsoon, my mom would take her tiny hibachi outside and grill pork barbecue for everyone.  I remember a trip back home in rainy July.  It was a welcome-back-home get-together with the family.  I can clearly recall my mom and two of my sisters squatting uncomfortably yet happily around the hibachi outside by the patio.  My mom was basting and turning the skewers.  Liz was fanning the flames with an abaniko while Dinna was keeping them all three dry by holding up a huge umbrella.  It had been raining steadily all afternoon but that didn’t stop us from grilling pork barbecue and enjoying a simple yet intimate home-cooked dinner together.

Two things are key in making perfect pork barbecue.  One is choosing the right cut of pork with the right amount fat and the other is the barbecue marinade.  My mom likes to work with a combination of kasim, pork butt, and liempo, pork belly.  She combines both to get a roughly uniform distribution of lean meat and fat in a stick.  Pork that’s too lean would make the skewers too dry and too tough.  Too much fat wouldn’t be good, either.  I can’t believe I said that.

Making the barbecue marinade is key in getting the right sweet, a little sour, and sometimes spicy flavors.  I have seen recipes that use 7-Up or Sprite.  Some use rice wine.   But almost always there’s soy sauce, brown sugar and plenty of garlic.  My mom makes her pork barbecue with pineapple juice, kalamansi juice, soy sauce, banana ketchup, brown sugar and garlic.   I had never made them before because of my natural fear of the grill but since it was my blog’s first birthday I mustered enough courage to face the grill once more. I phoned my mom and jotted down the rough proportion of the marinade ingredients. Before hanging up, she reminded me to use the proportions only as a guide and to taste the marinade!  Add more or use less depending on how it tastes.  And when I finally made them last week, the flavors immediately transported me back to that rainy July evening with my family.


Pork Barbecue Skewers Recipe, makes 8 servings

1-1/2 pounds pork butt
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup banana ketchup
1 lime
8-inch bamboo skewers

Thinly slice the pork into 1/2-inch-thick, 1-inch by 4-inch pieces. Trim the extra fat.

Peel and finely chop the garlic. In a large bowl, make the marinade by combining the pineapple juice, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and banana ketchup. Add the pork pieces to the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Before cooking the pork let it rest at room temperature for over an hour. Do not discard marinade but set aside for basting.

Soak the bamboo skewers in water for at least an hour to keep them from burning while grilling the pork.

Thread the marinated pieces of pork into the bamboo skewers.  Make sure that each skewer has a roughly uniform distribution of meat and fat. Start with the pointed end of the stick and thread one piece a few times at a time.

Grill over high heat until cooked through, basting occasionally. Serve fresh off the grill.


Pork Barbeque

  • Chris

    Your comment about the right cut of meat is right on! There is nothing worse than biting into a piece of meat and it being dry!!! Your recipe sounds so easy and looks so good, we are going to have to try it soon! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you, Chris. Not sure if you’re familiar with banana ketchup. Tomato ketchup will be fine as well but I’d add a little more brown sugar to make it a little sweeter. But like I said it really depends on your taste preference. Have a good weekend!!

  • http://lemonsandanchovies.wordpress.com/ Jean

    I’ve never made these before but of course, I’ve happily eaten them all my life. Now I can’t wait for our family BBQ next week because someone will surely make these. Your mom’s version looks great. Thanks for sharing her recipe.

  • http://www.momfoodproject.com Serene

    Oh, this looks excellent. I’ll have to make it soon.

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thanks, Jean. I feel the same way, too. This is the first time I’ve done it but I’ve enjoyed it all my life.

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you, Serene for stopping by!

  • http://oneperfectbite.blogspot.com Mary

    These look incredibly. I love to visit here. Your recipes are terrific and I love your photos. As long as you keep them coming I’ll keep coming back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • http://www.impromptudiva.com/ skip to malou

    I’m with you and Jean, i always enjoyed eating Pinoy pork bbq, but I haven’t made it myself. I miss those banana ketchup infused pork bbq, they go best with a cold beer or cold soda… sarap!

  • http://janiscooking.wordpress.com Thella

    *claps* Pinoy bbq for the win! :)

  • http://morethanamountfull.blogspot.com/ Chef Dennis

    those pork skewers look so very very good…wow…looks like it could be dinner tonite!

  • http://youarewhatyoueatorreheat.wordpress.com katie o.

    these look amazing. and still have no idea what banana ketchup is. i swear jun, i learn so much from you! As for the pork butt, this is most definitely a cut of meat that will not dry out. Love it!

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  • http://www.blazinghotwok.com darlene

    I have a bad habit of picking up unfamiliar sauces and condiments when I visit Asian groceries. Consequently I have a pantry full of stuff, including banana ketchup, that I’m not quite sure what to do with. Now I have a reason to crack it open. Cool.

  • Jean D.

    Hey your post ended up in Sauveur Website! Congrats!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Thank you, Jean! It was very very cool!! I’m hoping they’ll feature more Filipino food!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog!


  • http://www.moonglowgardens.wordpress.com Annapet

    Your marinade rocks, Jun! Saveur should have a special column for you! Wow, many of us are guilty of enjoying Filipino Pork BBQ all our lives and not actually making it. I never get to cook for our family gatherings because I’m the youngest girl.

    That ends tonight.

    Thank you once again, and congratulations!

  • http://www.junbelen.com Jun Belen

    Hello Annapet,
    Thank you very much for your very thoughtful note. I’m glad you enjoyed the barbecue marinade. It’s definitely one of those things I loved growing up. Definitely brings back memories of life back home.

  • http://hungryrabbitnyc.com Ken│hungry rabbit

    Love a good barbecue and love pork, so this is quite the heavenly skewer for me. If only I can still light up my outdoor grill, this would be instant heaven.

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  • Adora’s Box

    Pork barbecue is my all time favourite. Yeah it was always in our celebrations, too, and the marinade has 7-up and banana catsup (UFC). I also love buying it in the stalls with a shake of spicy garlicky suka. This is yummy, Jun.

  • Towerdelianddiner

    I am reminded of a recipe for pork satay. The peanut sauce for spicy pork skewers goes really well with beer. It is a great idea for tailgate food.

  • Tiffanylhunt

    Thank you for this recipe! This is every good memory from my childhood as well. Your blog is fabulous. 

  • Nisney75

    I was wondering how long can I go with marinating  the pork? Can’t wait to try this…..first time!!!!!!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    The longest I have marinated my pork and chicken (this recipe works really well with chicken legs and thighs, too!) is a couple of days.  The soy sauce and ketchup give the meat a beautiful caramel color (and flavor!) when grilled.   Thank you for writing and let me know how it goes.

  • variouztrickz

    Hi Mr. Belen, Can you make a recipe for Inihaw na Isaw ng Manok or Baboy? For sure, many Filipinos and foreigners will love that. Thanks

  • Noel antonio

    Hey Jun!

    Love your work. Question for you. I grew with pork skewers all my life and LOVE them. Thank you for the recipe. But I must admit, NOT a big fan of Jufran or Banana Ketchup. I’m not sure why you would sweeten a tomatoe base sauce like that. Anyhow is Banana Ketchup a real necessity in this recipe? Would it take away from that filipino flavor that I grew up with? Your thoughts, please.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Noel, thank you for writing. I think you should give banana ketchup another try! It isn’t made of tomatoes. Banana ketchup is made of mashed bananas, sugar, vinegar, and spices. Pork barbecue just isn’t the same without it.

  • Barbecue skewers

    Those pork skewers look so good. When I do my grilling, I try to purchase metal skewers to save some trees and the wood pieces can flake off.