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I stopped shopping in Chinatown for almost three months just to avoid a rat poison scare in food shelves in the area. This occurred when Toronto banned the sale of Shark’s Fins, and I was not taking any chances. I always made sure that no matter how cheap or affordable prices were in the Chinatown District, I would still get the same quality of meat cuts I needed for my daily meals, and of course, I was almost always being very cautious. The only other oriental stores I knew were located in the suburbs which were about an hour away from my place downtown. This slight change of routine made me aware of other popular grocery stores in my area and independent meat outlets which I didn’t discover if I had not paused from ‘Oriental Shopping,’ so to speak.

By early February, when the scare dissipated, I decided to make a ‘BIG’ comeback to the good old Chinatown area. I just couldn’t resist myself from buying ‘exotic’ meat portions and vegetables that just weren’t available and carried by many Canadian operated groceries. And if they were, they were about 15% more expensive as compared with Chinatown’s.

As I stepped into the doorstep and relived the past I left for three months, I quickly felt the whiffing smell I had longed and missed; that stench that clung to your jacket after an hour or so of shopping inside their small, narrow aisles. I was back alright! In one of their display fridges stood the best and worst parts of the Pig et al; and the most delicious too. Staring at me were two gigantic Pig’s Ears, and checking the price at under $4.00, they were a bargain. I couldn’t resist! I took the pair, and told myself I will make the Filipino Classic Tokwa’t Baboy. The long absence from Chinatown made me miss Pinoy Food altogether, and after celebrating the holidays with oven roasted Steaks, Turkeys and Porkloins, I felt it was also time for the Classic Pinoy Food to also make its own comeback. As soon as I reached home, I cranked my stovetop to high and started boiling water.

Ingredients: Serves 1 to 2
A pair of Pig’s Ears
¼ of a lb. of Lean Pork
1 Spanish Onion
1 to 2 Cloves of Garlic
Slivers of Ginger and Bird’s Eye Chilis
Equal parts Filipino Soy Sauce and Vinegar
A touch of Premium Chinese Light Soy Sauce
Crushed Black Pepper
Salt

On the side:
Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice, Fish Sauce, Finely Chopped Onions & Chilis

1. Drop the Pig’s Ears and lean pork cuts in salted water and let it boil. Remove the meat parts from the pot, and throw the first boil. Clean the pot and replace with warm water or use a new pot, if necessary. Do these steps until the water has been cleared from all scum, and don’t forget to always salt the water everytime.

2. As soon as the ears are tender, let it hang ‘Dry’ on a strainer for about an hour so and allow the water to sip down a pot; so with the lean pork. Season with salt. The drier the ears are the better for sautéing or deep-frying.

3. Julienne the Pig’s ears, boiled lean pork, and other aromatics.

4. Heat up a wok and pan-fry the Pig’s Ears until they turn to golden brown. Discard some oil if necessary. Add the lean pork and let it turn brown a bit. Start adding the slivers of onions, ginger, chilis, and crushed garlic until aromatic. Toss and swirl.

5. Cut the Fried Tofu into cubes and toss it altogether into the wok. Stir until everything comes together. Season to taste.

6. Add a touch of Chinese Light Soy Sauce. (makes the difference)

Pig’s ears reminded me so much of my ancient and ancestral past. My dad and I used to travel to Plaridel, Bulacan for two to three hours just to check on the small Piggery farm he had managed and owned for several years. Whenever we visited, I would almost always request the ‘keeper-farmer’ to grill some Pig’s ears. He had made it so fast and so delicious that the taste of the ears didn’t leave my taste buds. It was just so crisp to the bite! I also couldn’t seem to copy his grilling method when I had reached home with my own pair. From then on, I searched for Pig’s ears everywhere.

Just outside the village where I grew up, there was a BBQ place I frequented just for the BBQ Pig’s ears. Those were the days when I used to commute about an hour or so (without traffic) from the city centre (Makati) to the suburbs. I just needed that stopover at the corner store for a bite or two of Filipino BBQ delicacies and a bottle of San Mig before taking another tricyle to reach my final destination. Like an Oreo cookie to milk, I would dunk the Pig’s ears in vinegar filled with aromatics and spices. I did this routine almost daily to sit and relax after bracing an enormous gridlock at the Bicutan interchange. That corner store also served Tokwa’t Baboy with Rice, which, unfortunately, I never had a chance to taste.

It was also the time in my young adult life when I had not watched my blood pressure fluctuate as often as now. Tough luck for me.

4.0 from 2 reviews

Tokwa’t baboy
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 1-2
 
Ingredients
  • A pair of Pig’s Ears
  • ¼ of a lb. of Lean Pork
  • 1 Spanish Onion
  • 1 to 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • Slivers of Ginger and Bird’s Eye Chilis
  • Equal parts Filipino Soy Sauce and Vinegar
  • A touch of Premium Chinese Light Soy Sauce
  • Crushed Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • On the side: Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice, Fish Sauce, Finely Chopped Onions & Chilis
Instructions
  1. Drop the Pig’s Ears and lean pork cuts in salted water and let it boil. Remove the meat parts from the pot, and throw the first boil. Clean the pot and replace with warm water or use a new pot, if necessary. Do these steps until the water has been cleared from all scum, and don’t forget to always salt the water everytime.
  2. As soon as the ears are tender, let it hang ‘Dry’ on a strainer for about an hour so and allow the water to sip down a pot; so with the lean pork. Season with salt. The drier the ears are the better for sautéing or deep-frying.
  3. Julienne the Pig’s ears, boiled lean pork, and other aromatics.
  4. Heat up a wok and pan-fry the Pig’s Ears until they turn to golden brown. Discard some oil if necessary. Add the lean pork and let it turn brown a bit. Start adding the slivers of onions, ginger, chilis, and crushed garlic until aromatic. Toss and swirl.
  5. Cut the Fried Tofu into cubes and toss it altogether into the wok. Stir until everything comes together. Season to taste.
  6. Add a touch of Chinese Light Soy Sauce. (makes the difference)

 

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About The Author: Erwin

When I was growing up, my parents and I used to eat out and try different restaurants after celebrating the Sunday Mass. Moreover, during the course of the summer break, I had the opportunity to see some places which, when looking back, I had never realized how lucky I was as a teen to be able to travel. My family and I went to Europe and some parts of the United States, and what I saw along that path of my life inspired me to become a 'Chef.' The 'whites' they wore for me, during those growing-up and finding 'myself' years, portrayed a sort of fascinating and powerful figure in an extremely sophisticated, higly inviting and invigorating work place; and still maintain an unblemished and clean uniform after a very busy service. That picture of a 'Chef' stuck to my head for so many years. True enough, with meager resources left to spend for the youngest, that dream never happened. Life went on. I went to university and studied an insignificant course, Business Management, and after graduating, I ended up working as a Credit and Financial Analyst in the banking industry in Manila; slugging it out in the corporate arena in Makati. It was the first taste of being called a 'yuppie' and was almost always looking forward to an after-office eating and drinking extravaganza in the expanding and growing Makati Business District; and, of course, the weekend. Anyway, forging ahead to my life today, that dream as 'Chef' stayed in the back of my mind all the time that when I left the Philippines for Toronto in 2003; and after finally settling down on my own in 2005, I had started studying Professional Culinary Arts Courses in the City College to get that almost long-forgotten 'dream' going again. It was a Continuing Education Course, and more or less, students who have also shifted careers or who were trying to find work (like myself) as a newly landed found ourselves working with pots, knives and fire which I believe and I felt, everyone in class have never, ever touched during their past, professional lives. Since then, I have been working in and out of different kitchens; flipping eggs and hamburgers, grilling steaks, shoving bread and chicken in a 500'C oven, and almost anything that can be either deep-fried or toasted just to serve hungry, sometimes pesky, customers. I became a 'grease' cook; a short-order cook with no definite place of employment, and definitely not a 'Chef.' My articles are based on the after-thoughts of my past and present day experiences in this fast-paced, starkling, and sometimes disheveling kitchen environment. I never imagined that a kitchen 'worklife' turned that way as against the 'Ideal' environment I had thought about for years. No regrets. During this journey, I've discovered food which I've never thought I'd be able to taste. I learned to appreciate wine and travel more; now that I have understood the culture of food to society. That was non-existent when I was growing up. This journey has not ended. I'm still discovering and still learning. It's a tough industry to be in and for what's next or for where I'll finally end up in remain a sordid mystery.

Discuss - 9 Comments

  1. wow you’re really have a knack to making yummies.. I’m good only at eating lol.. thanks for sharing your recipe. :) dropping by from YS.
    Family Eats and Travels recently posted BLUEGRE indulgence

  2. Wow these pig ears reminded you of your keep farmer you must go back to him to ask of his recipe, but I am certain that you cook it amazingly sumptuous, I don’t cook, I only cooked fried fish fried pork fried everything. LOL but I am good in eating. Heheh visiting from YS>
    Sahm’s Dining Diary recently posted Yummy Sunday # 10: Mango Sago

  3. Jenn says:

    This is my type of Tokwa’t Baboy – using pig’s ears! I love the texture of the cartilage, but I prefer to have the dipping sauce served on the side. Well, I still haven’t tried the stir-fried way of cooking/serving this, I might give it a try.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Jenn recently posted Jollibee Chicken Nuggets Crunchers

  4. Jessie says:

    Masarap itong ilagay sa sizzling plate! Iba ang naituro sa amin ni daddy – boiled and cut up pork (cooked in water with vinegar, salt, pepper and bay leaf) mixed with fried tofu. I think interesting yung ganito.. the frying process will give the pork more body.
    Jessie recently posted Tea Tattle (SM Fairview)

    • Erwin says:

      Hi Jessie! Thanks! I wanted to do that too, like cooking Lechon Kawali or Crispy Pata, but I wanted to make sure the ears were thoroughly clean. I felt the tons of salt I put in every water change would work just the same. By the third boil, the ears were already too tender for another boil. :)

  5. michie says:

    thanks for sharing your recipe.visiting for YS

    http://girlytalk.net
    michie recently posted Spaghetti Carbonara

  6. this looks very delish, am drooling to the max :-) Returning the visit from Yummy Sunday.
    Jessica Cassidy recently posted Salted shrimp fry

  7. Iska says:

    This is how my dad cooked tokwa’t baboy, too, with pig’s ears. The boiled pork ala-Jessie’s dad and ‘lechon kawali’ version – sa labas ko na natikman. But I like ‘em all! :D

  8. Cheerful says:

    wow, this is really something…very yummy, i am sure! thanks for sharing your recipe, i love here because of those interesting post and good recipe! visiting from WE, hope you can visit me back. thanks and have a great week. :)
    Cheerful recently posted AISB’s Readathon 8

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